Can signing a code of ethics really encourage honorable behavior among consultants? Download two firms' conduct codes, and find out how they use them.
Editor's note: This article was originally published by Beth Blakely on March 11, 2002.
Two TechRepublic members submitted their firms' codes of ethics and conduct for consultants. Download the ethics and conduct codes to see how your company's practices compare to others in the IT consulting industry.TechRepublic member Subramani Ramakrishnan submitted the "Code of Ethics and Principles" used at his firm. Ramakrishnan is a second-year student in Software Enterprise Management at the Indian Institute of Management in Bangalore, India, and a consultant with IBM Global Services India. He said he has never been asked by a client to break his firm's code. TechRepublic member Darren Chick, a Managing Partner at DM Concepts, Inc. in Philadelphia, submitted his firm's code of conduct. The code is "a basis for a solid communication process," Chick said. In addition to the conduct code, Chick included his firm's list of "minimum expectations" for consultants.
Chick, who has been an IT professional since 1990, said the most common ethical dilemma consultants face is the temptation to perform work they know is not in the best interest of the client. Consultants can earn their clients' trust and give them confidence that they're "getting what they are paying for" by providing services that will serve clients in the long-term, not just inexpensive, fast fixes to short-term problems, Chick said.
"As professional consultants, we're paid for our opinions. That is, we're paid for our experience and what we know," he said. "In completing a project that fails to adhere to a client's long-term interest, are we in breach of our code? Absolutely."
Chick's conduct code includes directives that may seem unrelated to ethical behavior, like logging time daily and submitting a forecasted schedule for the coming week. However, he said those things are important because schedules and deliverables are a consultant's only accountable elements.
"By publishing — and follow-up reporting — a schedule, we ensure that clients are getting what they paid for: professional support of an initiative that is clear, consistent, and above board at all times," he said.Get weekly consulting tips in your inbox TechRepublic's IT Consultant newsletter, delivered each Monday, offers tips on how to attract customers, build your business, and increase your technical skills in order to get the job done. Automatically sign up today!