Several weeks back I published a fairly detailed job description of a consultant. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive on this post, not so much for the newness of the content but rather for the straightforward detail and breakdown of the core areas of competency and focus that the role mandates. One of my desires is to write about topics that are useful and applicable to how professional services companies and consultancies do their job. Another desire is to explain, in more detail than expected, things that customers should know about how services companies think and operate.
The better PS and consultancy firms have done great work in publishing models, methodologies and methods for delivering a service and helping a customer and these are often not shared or made available. In the spirit of continuing a shared approach, I wanted to publish on another key role that services companies employ and customers benefit from; The Engagement Manager (EM).
An EM is an interesting role in that it involves many of the same competencies you would expect to find in the consultant but has a larger focus on business development, sales and account growth and penetration. In some ways, it is the ultimate salesperson or account executive. The role can have a sales quota but also have responsibility for program delivery. The EM interfaces with people at all levels of the organization and is a partner to the consultant(s) on the ground.
The word "engagement" infers a tie and a bond to a relationship and for many customers, the role of the EM is invaluable in maintaining a healthy and fluid relationship. To that end, below is a job description that I've used as a framework for the role of EM. Each competency area contains three bullets, the first being the minimum expectation, the second a common baseline and the third a seasoned professional.
The Engagement Manager
Knowing The Customer
Has a well-grounded understanding of the customer’s environment, organization, challenges, objectives, and goals
Has an established map of the environment inclusive of the dependencies and priorities
Has the knowledge to completely articulate the customer's business model, it's competitive risk and market position
Through collaboration with the customer and account team, possible solutions and opportunities are understood and identified in a timely manner
Through collaboration with senior management, stakeholders, sponsors and partners, specific opportunities are quantified
Through standing meetings and sessions with senior leaders and decision makers, facilitation and follow through of specific solutions and services are regularly completed and aligned with the customer's requirements
Student Of Industry
Maintains a fundamental understanding the services and solutions that the company can provide to customers
Translates the fundamental understanding into discussions and communications that are directly related to the customer and their specific needs to address challenges and solve problems.
Operates as a subject matter expert (SME), provides customers with insights and counsel and sees beyond the scope of service
Defining the Service
Focuses primarily on standardized/productized services that can be easily explained and communicated to customers
Focuses on customizing services and solutions for customers to tailor the engagement specific to the customer environment
Focuses on value driven solutions that are defined and shaped by a specific set of needs, leverage reusable IP, and content but take into consideration the interdependencies of teams, commercials and expected outcomes
Operates as a go-to person to advise the customer and interface with the account team
Operates as a senior leader to build trusted relationships, leverage the right resources and establish credibility with the customer
Operates as the trusted advisor, has demonstrated the ability to lead and close engagements, develop opportunities and maintain buy-in
Consultative By Nature
Brings a fresh perspective to the customer and account team, contributes to how the engagement(s) can be shaped and led
Demonstrates strong facilitation and communication skills to advance opportunities, manage stakeholder expectations and engaged in a consultative dialogue and approach
Seen as a core leader and contributor for counsel and direction for the customer coupled with a deep understanding of the customer environment
Operates as an independent resource, relying mostly on themselves to complete tasks and manage opportunities
Leverages available resources to ensure that the customer can be serviced efficiently and effectively without creating a bottleneck situation
Like a conductor understands their role is to lead and leverage the best possible network of resources, skills and tools that best service the customer and communicate a model driven by above average response times, do the right things at the right time in the right order
Follows the process, maintains good records and data and communicates well with the customer
On top of the details, each opportunity, engagement and reporting item is understood, maintained and shared including completeness of data and customer information to ensure open communication and visibility
Maintains a complete and structured set of data for each customer and the respective opportunities/engagements
The other piece of work would be to map these beginner, intermediary and advanced competencies to a set of metrics within your organization to determine how well, or how bad, the role is being fulfilled. This can be as simple as a stack ranking model but can be as detailed as defining acceptance criteria for each of the three competency descriptions across all the competency areas.
It is also important to understand the need for this role vs. an account executive, an account manager, a consultant and/or the other roles you might employ that are more senior and customer facing. You might choose to call the EM by another name; e.g. Partner or Principal. You may also choose to have the EM role dedicated to an account or two and look to have their time, or a portion of it paid for by the customer. It is really a matter of what you expect the role to be and to do within your organization, and for that matter, the customer's organization as well.