Advice for Going It Alone in IT Consulting, Technology Contracting

By Donald Sears  |  Posted 2010-03-01

There was one area in 2009 that saw growth in IT jobs while the rest of technology work essentially floundered: Consulting and contracting.

"The most robust job segment, Management and Technical Consulting Services, has gained a net 13,600 jobs in the first 11 months of 2009, with net job gains in four of the last five months," said David Foote of technology research analysts' Foote Partners in December.

Independent technology consulting continues to make sense for a host of reasons in 2010. The main driver is of course the economy, and that companies cannot add as much full time headcount as years past. The good news is that many projects are moving forward this year that were pushed aside by the cost cutting of 2009.

Consulting is not a new aspect of IT, but it's certainly new to a lot more technology workers who have seen the forest from the trees. This is where demand exist right now, so adapt and thrive. But you need to understand the challenges this type of work will present to technology workers of all levels and experience.

There is a good article on CIO from a consultant, Kamala Puram of Chrysalis International, sharing the lessons she has learned in her first 10 months being independent. Here is what she advises you take heed of if you want to have success:

  • Know the full scope of a project before you talk rates
  • Don't overbid
  • Know the client's expectations
  • Don't take a project you can't handle
  • Don't expect a red carpet (check your ego at the door)
  • Don't pull rank
  • Avoid practical ideas
  • Brand yourself

On "avoiding practical ideas," Puram wrote:

Your role is to suggest the best option, and that's not always the most realistic one. One of my clients was planning to implement a web-based solution to improve real-time communication among sales people. The solution required sales people to log on to the Internet to pull information about their accounts, such as the status of customers' orders, so that they could incorporate that information into their sales calls. The problem was that the sales people resisted using the system. I challenged the client to think about alternative delivery mechanisms... The client's initial reaction... was negative... Ultimately, they decided to use different technology to push information to sales people in real time because it was a better communications mechanism...

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