April 20, 2008 Leave a comment
Bob Cringely has a good article on IT Consultants, specifically what makes good consultants and bad consultants.
I was an IT consultant for 10 years, from 1993-2003, my clients ran the gamut from small startup to large multi-national corporation, and the contracts ran from short two week stints to much longer multi-year contracts.
This paragraph in his post really resonated with me:
The best consultant I ever knew was Christine Comaford-Lynch, who is now an author and a VC and no longer does IT consulting at all. A key part of her success was her requirements gathering process. She turned it into a very effective collaboration effort involving the key people who would use the software. The requirements would be tight, the project would be highly focused, and there would be little or no scope creep. When it came time to implement the project her project managers didn’t have to be Attila’s — there was cooperation and enthusiasm. The training and start up of the application was quicker and easier. There were few surprises that needed to be fixed.
Over time I learned that the key to a successful consulting job was setting and managing expectations, explaining to the client exactly what they were going to get, and making it clear where one’s expertise ran out. Clients really appreciates that last point, I had developed a very specific set of skills and would focus on those. While it does mean that money is left on the table, but it means that you don’t set yourself up for failure.