The simplest definition of technology consulting is best described as a business arrangement whereby a company engages the professional services of people with highly specialized technical skills for a finite period of time. Engaging the services of specialized technical professionals (consultants) can be expensive so companies retain these consultants for the shortest amount of time needed to complete the project. As a client’s project nears its end, most consultants begin preparing to transition to a new project with a different client and most likely at a different location.
This definition only provides a base level understanding of a profession which is far more complex than the offered definition. I designed this site to not only provide real-world information to aspirating consultants and current consultants but also to provide a forum (blog) whereby readers can connect with the author with questions, comments and to express opinions.
There are 6 very finely divided permutations which serve as the structure of technology consulting. A consultant can spend his/her entire career working in one model. Other consultants might work in several models and still others might move freely between all 6 models. A single company may use technology consultants representing more than one consulting model at the same time. In a way similar to the transition of consultants from model to model, companies can make similar transitions over time. The potential transitions consultants, as well as client companies, can make over time will become clear as you learn more details about the various consulting models.
The consulting model descriptions presented here cannot possibly present every aspect, nuance or issue pertinent to each model but the author endeavors to differentiate between the various models and present positive and negative aspects associated with each model. Each model presents unique attributes, unique strengths and unique weaknesses and it is the reader’s task to compare each model in light of their unique situation. In the outset, one model may be more attractive than the other models but may change as a consultant might progress from one model to another based on that their acquired knowledge, experience or personal requirements.
I will leave the overall comparison of each model up to the reader while issuing a caution there are burdens inherent in all of the models. The burden of travel…. and all of its attendant implications, is usually present in all 6 models. Personal and family tolerance of constant separations is an individual decision. In addition, the degree of education or practical experience a person brings to his/her first consulting job merely opens the door. A successful consultant must stay current or technology will pass them up. Consulting isn’t for the faint-hearted, it entails public speaking, making oral presentations before client administrators and colleagues along with providing periodic written assessments as a project progresses.
Another consideration is $. Under Models I and II, the company consultant is usually a W-2 employee and has his/her travel expenses, per diem, company side of their social security contributions, tax disbursements, and employee health deductions paid for or reimbursed by his/her employer company. In Models III – VI, the independent consultant usually “fronts” all expenses for later reimbursement by the client company, and pays both sides of his/her social security obligation and health care options.
I also want to stress that a successful consultant is somewhat of a fulltime student. The degree of education or practical experience a person brings to his/her first job in consulting is merely an entrée. A consultant must stay current or technology will pass them by.
The 6 technology consulting models are: