Who needs a software consultant
For the past 15 years, I've spent much of my professional life building software. A few years after graduating with an undergraduate degree in computer information systems I was the lead developer at a technology and business skills training company.
At the time, I thought I was more than deserving to lead the greenfield development of a new customer relationship management application that would drive much of the technology within the company, everything from managing clients, vendors, and trainers, to the scheduling of in-person and online training classes, and more. The application would be, and perhaps still is, instrumental to the company.
Also at the time, I thought that consultants were all like the Bobs in Office Space - the folks in white shirts and ties whose sole purpose for their existence is to reduce costs by firing employees. As Peter said to the consultants (Bob and Bob), "good luck with your layoffs, I hope the firings go really well."
Thankfully, I was encouraged to engage with a software consultant, Pete Freitag from Foundeo, to assist with designing the software architecture and engineering of the application. To this day, I'm grateful for working alongside and with Pete. He was nothing like the Bobs.
What is software consulting?
At worst, software consulting is like a marriage counselor. We're hired as a third party with no bias for conflict resolution. It can be ugly - I know. I once arrived at a new client's office to be ushered into the coffee break room to be told about the conflict, how I was there to take one side, and to convince the grumpy old dude that the team needed to move into a new direction.
At best, software consulting is like a guide (think Yoda from Star Wars or Sophia Petrillo in Golden Girls) in the story of a hero. We're hired because the hero has been called to action and needs someone to help lead them to success.
What does a consultant do?
Many software consultants are simply staff augmentation that are brought on as short-term contractors to fill hiring gaps. If you are looking for this service, there are dozens of firms that are large multi-national corporations that will put bodies in seats.
I believe that software consultants should:
- Understand the strategic goals and vision of the organization.
- Align stakeholders to build software solutions that serve to accomplish short-term goals while never losing sight of the organization's long-term vision.
- Be on the lookout for important decisions and potential issues that arise during the development process.
- Collaborate with the software architects, engineers, product owners, and all stakeholders.
- Communicate technical decisions to product and business owners in a manner that is clear, concise, and understandable.
- Mentors team members in order to improve their skills while encouraging them to tackle complex problems.
- Like a guide, a software consultant is there to assist and get into the nitty gritty when the going gets tough.
Who needs a software consultant?
So, who needs a software consultant?
A hero who has been called to action and who recognizes their own limitations and need for an expert.
So, if you're looking to hire a software consultant then find an expert guide who will lead you and your team to success.