IT Consulting

Bruce Eckel (of Thinking in C++ and Thinking in Java fame) has a very interesting post titled "What is Consulting?".

My job title is "consultant" and fortunately from time to time I get do work that truely matches Bruce's definition of consulting (with which I agree). That type of work is very satisfying. But I wouldn't want to miss being directly involved in building software, so to not give advice from the sideline. I.e., getting your feet dirty (in dutch: "met je poten in de modder staan" ;).

An important point that Bruce stresses is the need to invest time and effort in maintaining your knowledge and gaining new knowledge. This is indeed very important to be effective as a consultant. I get to do R&D 1-2 days a week. I consider myself fortunate because I must admit that the majority of my colleagues work fulltime on projects for clients. Apart from being able to try out new technologies, reading blogs, thinking about software architecture and development during my day job, I also invest quite some spare time in this.

What do you think? Should everybody in a consulting firm be given time to do these type of things? Can a consulting firm in return demand employees to invest spare time in gaining relevant knowledge? And with that I mean going beyond just investing time in getting a MCAD or MCSD certification.

Or should a consulting firm make a clear distinction between consultants (with a high hourly rate but not 100% billable) and people who work fulltime on projects (with a lower hourly rate, but 100% billable)?

Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect those of my employer.

One thought on “IT Consulting

  1. I think every consultant should be given at least some time to develop. I don't mind spending some of my private time to improve my knowledge, but it would be nice if the company you work for allows you to spend some time during working hours on that.

    I don't think you're company can demand that you do this in you're own time. But I know that most consultants spend some of their own time to get the knowledge they need. And that's a good thing, because you gain knowledge on subjects you're interested in. What could happen is, that when the company gives you time during office hours, is that they will tell you what you should investigate. And that is not always a subject you like.

    You're actually quite lucky that you get to spend 1-2 days a week to do some R&D work. I'd almost want to transfer to your company, providing I could do the same ;-). But I know that I could have the same priveliges at my company, provided my customer doesn't mind. And at this moment, they do mind.


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