Reflections on a Year of Consulting

It has been more than a year since I last posted a blog entry. There have been a lot of changes in my life during that time. The most significant professional one has been that I switched jobs.

I had been thinking for a while about the next step in my career trajectory. I felt that I needed to get more hands-on programming experience by working on a variety of projects in different industries. The best option to do that seemed to be by joining a software development consulting company. So when I was offered the role of a Senior Software Engineer at Terazo - formerly APIvista - I did not hesitate to accept it.

It has been an enjoyable experience so far. I even managed to get promoted to Lead Software Engineer and now have two teams, each working on a different client project. The coolest aspect of the job has been the amount of learning I have been able to do in the past few months.

Since this is my first experience as a consultant, I discovered a quite a few interesting things about the field. Here are three of them:

  • A business could employ different models of engagement with a software development company. These could range from temporary staff augmentation to complete outsourcing of all development. A common scenario is to bring in consultants with specialized skills that do not currently exist in-house. So even though the market may seem saturated with suppliers, there are plenty of opportunities too.
  • While the contracts are negotiated and signed by senior management, the key to a successful engagement is building trust with the client’s staff a consultant interacts with, on a day to day basis. In the beginning, it is essential to gauge the culture of the organization, identify the gatekeepers and build relationships with them. The actual delivery work starts later.
  • Referrals are the leading source of new clients for a consulting company. Having a unique and focussed brand helps but not as much as the good old “word-of-mouth” advertising. On the other hand, repeat business is almost guaranteed if the consultants provide the client with great service during the initial engagement.

I am sure there will be more revelations as I continue on this path and I will make an effort to write about them here.

Wish you all a prosperous new year!