Introducing DLM Consultants Part 1: The Mission

This post is the first part of a five part series that introduces DLM Consultants and discusses each of the training and consulting packages that they offer:

Taking a leap

At the beginning of the year I set myself a few SMART objectives for 2016. The photo above represents two of them. It was taken by a friend without my knowledge on day 6 of a 7 day trek across the Andes in the last week of my Redgate sabbatical. What makes it an especially important photo to me is not visible.

This was the precise moment I decided to quit my job and set up a consulting company.

I loved Redgate, my employer, and did not want to leave but I knew deep down that I had to. I was a pre-sales engineer, but I didn’t get enormous pleasure from making sales. I enjoyed solving problems and helping people achieve great things. I got a lot of scope to achieve this in my role because our software was pretty awesome – but at the end of the day the measure of my success was how many licences I could help to sell. I wanted the measure of my success to be how well I solved the problem. These two measures were very closely aligned, but they weren’t the same.

Redgate makes great software – but the task of a software tools provider is to extrapolate the common problems felt by thousands of developers and create software that solves 90% of the problem for 90% of the people. It’s great that these tools are available as they make an awful lot of peoples’ lives easier. But I just don’t get a kick out of such a high level task. I’m a people person. I like to work with specific people, on specific problems and to see the joy on their faces when we exceed their expectations.

I wanted to be a Database Lifecycle Management (DLM) consultant, rather than a DLM pre-sales engineer – and Redgate does not have a professional services team. They work with approved consulting partners instead. (And that’s exactly what they should do.)

These facts led me to a very simple (and uncomfortable) conclusion. I had to quit my job. I had to part ways with the most amazing employer I have ever had.

The mission

Having established the fact I had to move on I faced a decision – work for someone else or work for myself. Initially I thought it would be a good idea to learn the consulting trade at an established company from experienced people. I had many fruitful discussions with various companies but kept coming to the same conclusions.

Despite having some really exciting opportunities available to me I couldn’t supress the urge to start my own company. If I worked for someone else I’d have to do things their way. The measure of my success would be their measure. I might have to do work that didn’t excite me. And I already had a pretty clear idea what I wanted to achieve. I already had a mission in my heart that I wanted to go on. That’s why I started DLM Consultants.

Our mission is that our clients’ databases will no longer be their bottleneck on delivering customer value.

DLM Consultants

Bottleneck

This is a mission that I understand. This is a mission that I have the knowledge and skills to achieve. This is a mission that I believe is worth a lot to many businesses (and hence has legs financially). Most importantly, it’s a mission I care deeply about.

I have seen so many organisations handling database changes exceptionally poorly. Organisations that can’t answer simple questions about who changed what and when and why. Organisations that don’t know who is making changes to the production database right now. Organisations that don’t have enough automated tests so every minor change causes a huge amount of manual testing overhead and risk.

These problems cost organisations a huge amount of money and represent a significant bottleneck to the business. These problems really do hold businesses back from realising their true potential. These problems give the data professionals that I have got to know and love over the last few years a bad reputation for being too slow, unreliable and bureaucratic.

riskyDeployment

I want to help.

I thought long and hard about the wording of that mission statement. There is one particular element to it that I wrestled with for a while, as I recognise it’s an unusual choice. A more engaging or optimistic mission statement might have been simply:

“Databases will never be a bottleneck on delivering customer value.”

Perhaps I should be more ambitious than just concerning myself with ‘our clients’? Isn’t there a bigger goal out there? Can’t I make it my mission to solve the problem for everyone? That’s what a really successful organisation would strive to do. That’s what Redgate would strive to do.

Well, perhaps that is what a really successful organisation would do. But as I mentioned, I like dealing with specific human beings. I like working on specific and unique problems. I didn’t enjoy the problems associated with finding a general fit for everyone. I want to help specific people succeed.

I’ve read the books. I’ve seen the realities. I like applying the concepts in specific contexts and helping specific people.

That is the driving principle behind DLM Consultants. I want to help real people with a genuine and significant problem. Everything that DLM Consultants does will stem from our mission statement.

The strategy

Everyone I have spoken to has told me three things are important when setting up a consulting company:

  1. Get a good accountant and a good accountancy software package.
  2. Devise some packaged services.
  3. Create a product.

Step 1 is done. I got recommendations off friends in my area who ran small (mostly IT consultancy) businesses like mine. I created a shortlist and met with a few in person. Then I chose the one that I had the most confidence in. I also invested in a Xero account based on recommendation, including recommendations from my chosen accountant. Now I just follow instructions and seek advice when I need it. Job done. Accounting achievement unlocked.

I’m reserving judgement on step 3. If I do create a product it will stem from my mission statement and a genuine feeling that the product needs to be created.

That leaves step 2.

Our packaged services are defined units of work that DLM Consultants offer. These packages represent a clear value proposition with clear deliverables. They are designed as bitesize units of consultancy that can either provide value as a single engagement or represent the start of a longer relationship with a client.

DLM Consultants will start business with three consulting/training packages that will be offered alongside bespoke consultancy. This post is the first of a five part series that will discuss each of the packages and the bespoke consultancy in more detail.

Posts will be published at noon (UK time) each day this week.

Welcome to DLM Consultants. 🙂

More from this series

Summit

  1 comment for “Introducing DLM Consultants Part 1: The Mission

  1. Joe Glover
    August 10, 2016 at 11:33 am

    Reasoned and well thought through, wishing you every success.

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