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How to Select a Consultant

When choosing a consultant it is good to know that there are basically three different types of these IT consultants. Choosing the right consultant requires knowledge of types of consultants available.  The correct choice may determine the success of your computer system, project, or task.

How To Select an IT Consultant who are just thinkers and writers.  They come in to your company and identify an overall solution to your computer or data processing issue/task.  This solution is usually a high-level management-type document that describes the general solution and may identify or recommend a technology set to go along with the solution.

How To Choose A Programming Consultant - thinks and does some or directly manages the work of creating an IT solution.  This individual is more of a jack of all trades and usually has the skills to find and identify the solution, sell the solution to management, and finally do it or see that it gets done.

How To Pick A Contract Programmer - these are the folks who only deal with doing the program/database coding.  Typically they must be managed day to day, these days you'll find many contract programmers who's primary language is not English.

As with all disciplines the skills and ability of  the above individuals varies widely, as do the amount they'll charge for the work.  Beginners in each of these fields will usually charge by the hour and will include every minute, including phone calls and fixing their mistake.  We have heard horror stories of programmer consultants/contract programmers delivering code late and unworkable. Then when asked to make it work they want more money!

What is Blue Claw Database Design?

Good question - over the last 25 years we've done all the above type of IT consultant work.  Nowadays we best fit into the Programming Consultant description.  Here are some key characteristics of our business:

  • We normally work in fixed-price mode.  Prices are based on what type of group you are (individual, startup company, large corporation), the complexity of the project, your ability to communicate your needs and understand a proposed solution.
     

  • We have decided on the technology set we use - specifically Microsoft Access.  However, we have experience with all levels of database application development and therefore we are up front about what we will do and what is likely to be best for your data processing project.  And, if it is not a good fit for us will will try to recommend a consultant who can/will do it.
     

  • We never charge for fixing our mistakes.  We have recently created a process to reduce the number of 'delivered bugs' - key to this process is association with an outside/independent quality assurance group.

What's Next in How To Select a Consultant?

Interview the prospective programmer or consultant to find out what 'type' they are.  Can you communicate with them?  Do they pick up on what your business is about quickly? Have they done similar work - in fact or concept?

Get references (2 or 3) and check each reference.  Don't forget to ask about responsiveness to support requests after delivery and final payment was made.

Be concerned if a programmer will not give you access to the source code.  If they are a small shop with just a few programmers then insist on it - otherwise move on to someone else.

We hope this article has provided you with valuable information on how to select a consultant.









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