Let’s talk about functional consulting. I’m going to introduce you to two new tools, one about the project lifecycle and one called the functional quadrant.
What these two tools do for you is that they give you an idea of what a functional consultant does, they allow you to figure out, well, can I actually do any of the functional tasks already, they are going to give you confidence to approach job descriptions, recruiters, and hiring managers with a little bit more idea of what you’re talking about, and you’d be able to identify the gaps between the current skills that you have and the full functional skill-set let’s say.
So what this is, is it’s the project lifecycle. All E-Business or cloud projects kind of follow this basic set of steps: Objectives, Requirements, Design, Build, Test, and Transition. And what I recommend is as a functional consultant you try to build up to full functional skill-set, that 6 skills.
A project starts with Objectives, Requirements, Design, Build, Test, and Transition. When I transferred into functional from technical I had design and build, I had a problem straightaway in that I was only useful for two of the 6 project phases. If you can build up, add two more skills on like requirements and test and eventually get to six skills, then you become much more valuable to your client. You can stay longer on the project, you can develop much better reputation for delivery, and that’s why I really recommend for the full functional skill-set.
The next tool that I wanted to talk about is the functional quadrant. It is it’s a description of all of the 600 odd functional skills or project documents that are relevant for E-Business projects, don’t worry about the number because we’ve broken them down into these 6 areas. It is the graph with business at the top, business skills, and technical skills at the bottom. And then on the left you’ve got the skills that would be done by a business analyst or a systems analyst so a functional consultant — these three terms with functional consultant are sort of interchangeable.
If we go back to our 6 skills again Objectives, Requirements, Test, Transition, Design, and Build; Build is kind of a cross between systems analyst and technical because it’s kind of supporting the delivery of code. Design is the functional design which kind of surrounds, gathering the requirements for those and pieces of customizations. Objectives at the top is catering the business requirements and this is a pure business skill, that’s why it’s over on this side of the graph here. And Requirements is kind of a little bit more what a typical business analyst or a business would do.
Transferring from Technical into Functional
If you’re transitioning into functional from the technical area like I did, you can start off with two skills like I did and then build up and develop the rest of the four skills. T1, T for technical, your two bank of skills are build and test, you could transfer into functional like I did with these two skills. But then you got to quickly develop your design and requirements skill-set which is Stage T2. And then finally T3, objectives and transition.
- T1 Phase – Build and Test
When you start as a technical consultant and go into the functional role, you’re in the T1 phase so you can do build i.e., support unit testing and you’re able to do functionally support testing; unit, integration/system/user acceptance testing.
- T2 Phase – Requirements and Design
The next phase is you start to develop your skills capturing requirements and going into proper design, designing an interface from a business point of view.
- T3 Phase – Objectives and Transition
The final stage there is to be able to capture the objectives at the start of a project and be able to do transition at the end of the project.
Transferring from Business into Functional
If you’re coming in from the business or you’re coming from the user community the first skills that you typically already have would be test and requirements, then you would develop the next phase which would be design and objectives, these are kind of the next stepping stone in your development. And then finally you’re going to look to build your transition and your build skills if you’re coming in from the business.
- B1 Phase – Requirements and Test
When you start as a business user and go into the functional role, you’re in the B1 phase so you can perform testing i.e., support and carry out testing and you’re able to contribute in requirements stage; capturing business requirements and communicating that to project team
- B2 Phase –Design and Objectives
The next phase is you start to develop your skills capturing high-level business objectives, and deep-diving into proper design, designing an interface from a business point of view.
- B3 Phase –Transition and Build
The final stage there is to be able to manage the transition phase and be able to manage unit testing with developers.
Transferring from Support into Functional
And the final group to transition into functional are people coming from the support community so your bank of skills as support would be requirements and test because these are two areas that you’re kind of most familiar with. Your next skills that you pick up would be design and build, they’re the next closest ones to your current skill-set. And then finally the last two skills would be objectives and transition because they’re kind of the most difficult for a support person to develop as a functional consultant.
- S1 Phase – Build and Test
S1 is where you use your existing support skills in the design phase so you can support the design by understanding the configuration, and in testing so that you can support testing phase due to your knowledge of being able to operate the business processes in Oracle.
- S2 Phase – Requirements and Design
Stage 2 then is being able to capture requirements, and then Stage 2 is also being able to support any customizations, support the developers and testing the customizations.
- S3 Phase – Objectives and Transition
then the final stage for a support consultant might be to capture the high level business objectives at the start of the next project and to be able to support the transition, which is turning on the new system without breaking anything.
What I’ve tried to do there is give you an idea of the stages if you’re coming in from support, if you’re coming in from technical, and if you’re coming in from business.
At the end of this post, there’s a detailed whitepaper for those of you that are more interested in finding out a lot more detail on each of the skills. So in each section of the whitepaper you’ve got the objectives, for that skill the pre-requisites and the kind of soft skills that are required to deliver those areas, there’s a lot more information there.
So just like to say thanks very much for listening, I’d love to see if you have any comments or questions below.
And until next time, take it easy.