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What is Consulting?

35 replies on 3 pages. Most recent reply: Jun 13, 2006 11:36 AM by Bruce Eckel

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aj millar

Posts: 1
Nickname: ajm
Registered: Oct, 2005

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Oct 4, 2005 12:52 PM
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Thanks for dissecting the issue of consultant. I've worked with both types: the true professional who turned out to be - first and foremost - an excellent mentor, and the imposters. Unfortunately, it's the prestige that the label "consultant" carries that the imposters use to their advantage.

John Henry

Posts: 1
Nickname: johnhenry1
Registered: Dec, 2005

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Dec 27, 2005 3:22 PM
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I am doing consulting for awhile. It seems the consulting industry has been shifted to low end. A consultant used to get high hourly rate around $100+/hr and can live a rather good life. Now it is usually $50/hr for a 3-6 month contract, working along with some offshore consultants. And on site you see outsourcing firms work from offshore with a rate of $5/hr. And usually clients let you go because they don't have fundings for you even you solved their problems and did a good job.

How can we ask those guys with $5/hr pay being expert in consulting business.

I suspect that eventually, consultants means temp workers earning $6.75/hr (that is minimun wage) with no health insurance, no paid vacation time and they are supposed to be experts in Java, peral, C++, Oracle, etc, by client companies.

Arkady Perepelyuk

Posts: 1
Nickname: arkperep
Registered: Jan, 2006

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Jan 16, 2006 5:55 PM
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> I am doing consulting for awhile. It seems the consulting
> industry has been shifted to low end. A consultant used
> to get high hourly rate around $100+/hr and can live a
> a rather good life. Now it is usually $50/hr for a 3-6
> month contract, working along with some offshore
> consultants. And on site you see outsourcing firms work
> from offshore with a rate of $5/hr. And usually clients
> let you go because they don't have fundings for you even
> you solved their problems and did a good job.
>
> How can we ask those guys with $5/hr pay being expert in
> consulting business.
>
> I suspect that eventually, consultants means temp workers
> earning $6.75/hr (that is minimun wage) with no health
> insurance, no paid vacation time and they are supposed to
> be experts in Java, peral, C++, Oracle, etc, by client
> companies.

Unfortunately, I know about off-shore consultants first hand. There are a few of them on the development team I’ve lead for the past several years. First of all, they are no longer as cheap as you think they are. We are being charged about half of what a really solid experienced domestic consultant or staff developer (not just a body, but a brain as well) would cost. However in my opinion they are (a) not even worth half the money we pay due to the lack of real experience, cultural differences and accountability; (b) the rates are slowly but surely going up and soon (when we're through killing our domestic IT resources) will equalize; and (c) I am forced to train and mentor those so called "consultants" to get them to perform adequately on my projects, as I'm sure many technical leaders, architects and project managers have done as well. So, not only outsourcing IT work to numerous off-shore vendors is damaging to our economy in general and the IT profession in particular (and especially to those true consultants who have brought real value to the clients for years), bit it's also a significant drain in my project budget without any considerable and/or timely return on the investment. All my 3 off-shore consultants are rookies, and some of them are mediocre rookies at that. I'd be more than happy to trade all of them for 1 serious and dependable pro. God, it would get me a lot more done while saving my firm serious money in the process. However, the off-shore consulting shops are the only vendors we can deal with based on our corporate policy and after having interviewed dozens of their consultants, I am stuck with my rookies for awhile. To make matters worth, I know that by the time I'm done training them into somewhat skilled developers, they'll be gone as has happened to me on many occasions...

Ralph Wilson

Posts: 1
Nickname: rdwilson2
Registered: Mar, 2006

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Mar 16, 2006 6:14 PM
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I have only recently been pointed to this article but it rings so true that I wish I had had a link to it much earlier.

Over the years (and there have been about 37 of them) that I have been "in the trade", I have been in various positions: internal consultant, external consultant, "hire-gun" (i.e. either a temporary programmer or manager hired to accomplish a specific task and then leave), and "full-time, permanent, employee" (aka, "two-week notice contract employee"). I have been on the inside watching true consultants and psuedo-consultants at work and I have been on the outside watching employees get burned up by mismanagement. In all that time, I have seldom, if ever, seen a more concise definition of the true meaning of a "consultant" . . . nor have I seen a more concise description as to why AA, et al, most commonly fail to provide such services to their clients.

I have to agree with the comment "One of the ironies of consulting is that the goal of the consultant must be to make him or herself obsolete.." Unfortunately, I have also been in the position of being frustrated (either as an internal or external consultant or even as a perm-placement worker) by management's careful efforts to defeat any and all attempts on my part to transfer the knowledge I had to at least one (other) person in the organization. This puzzles me because I learned early on in my career that it is far more probably that a company will retain "intuitive knowledge" about their system/applications/data/whatever if more than one person has that knowledge.

All in all, an excellent, inciteful article that more people in our profession . . . in fact, more people who employ (as employees, consultants, or contractors) people in our profession . . . should read .

Robert Karlsson

Posts: 1
Nickname: bobert1
Registered: Jun, 2006

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Jun 12, 2006 12:05 PM
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Oh boy. Back in the nineties and into the IT nuclear winter, I consulted in NYC and sometimes NJ. My ususal assignment was "We have this project. We paid XYZ co big bucks - it sucks. Help!" More times than not we just had to throw the code base out and start over - as it was clearly written w/o thought or consideration for the actual problem at hand. For instance I re-designed a Terminal Server app that was using huge bandwidth sending unnecessary graphics (because the pgmr thought that was cool). If he had actually downloaded the white pages for Terminal Server he might have noticed that the #1 tenet is minimize traffic size and volume. Just one example. There were many.

Now, since I believed that a consultant's job was to bring new abilities to the client, I actually tried to do so, to make myself obsolete, as mentioned above. In fact, that was my shtick in interviews - "Mr VP, your staff will be better prepared for your world after i'm gone then they were before I got here." The reality is that in all those years only three people really took advantage of my willingness to transer my hard-earned wisdom (I've been in IT since 1983, in all sorts of business environments and on all sorts of platforms). What I mean is, I tried to show them how to THINK like a complier, or a network, or even like a user. Now, those three folks were and are grateful but the vast majority of people were more intersted in the TV shows currently airing than understanding their craft. This at very large, "world class" organizations. The other thing was you had to be careful about showing your bandwidth - once the client understood that you could do a lot of work fast, well that's all they wanted - for as many hours as you could stand. Recipe for burnout? You bet.

Then the implosion came and the few help wanted signs carried "no contractors need apply" or "persons w consulting backgrounds will not be considered". So the very people who truly attempted to be professional were turned into modern day Okies - the Bytes of Wrath.

As you may have guessed - I got out of the game. Recently, though, I built a business workflow system for a friend's company - he is making millions w it and is estatic. A good reference, there. And I'm thinking about rejoining the fray, thinking about this very topic - how can I work and really benefit personally - grow, learn, be appreciated and rewarded for my contributions. Ideas?

Bruce Eckel

Posts: 875
Nickname: beckel
Registered: Jun, 2003

Re: What is Consulting? Posted: Jun 13, 2006 11:36 AM
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I think that creating your own products produces the highest degree of satisfaction, because when you inevitably get some of the estimations wrong, you can forgive yourself rather than hoping that a client will forgive you. And you can also do it right, according to your own standards. That's worth a lot.

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