Software consulting that is right for you
It is important to distinguish software consulting from other similar service offerings like contract programmers, or staffing agencies that involve software development resources. There are several key factors that differentiate the software consulting firm.
Consulting Business Model
In order for a firm to truly be in the software consulting business, it needs to engage clients as a consultant! This may seem simple, but in reality, many companies simply see themselves as the provider of services that the client has asked for. They may or may not know anything about the customer’s business or industry focus, and an understanding of the needs driving the engagement in the first place may not be there.
Rather than being implementation-focused, a consulting business model means understanding that the client has a business problem (rather than a strictly technical one) and is seeking a business solution. Software consultants provide business solutions using relevant software tools. Without this focus on the problem, it is almost impossible to meet the need at hand.
Looking for solutions to business problems means starting out by evaluating all the options on the market based on agreed upon criteria, like cost, integration, features, scalability, and more. This means that the firm will not typically have a preference about buying or building a software solution before they have fully evaluated your needs. If your vendor has a strong, yet unexplained technology platform bias, take the time to understand whether this platform actually meets your need.
At the end of the day, if your vendor is recommending options that work best for their bottom line or that only meet part of your need, get a second opinion! The investment in new software means a lot to your business, and the opportunity cost of missing the mark is not worth it. We have had clients spends tens and even thousands of dollars on software solutions that were poorly thought out and badly implemented before engaging with a vendor that could focus 100% on meeting their needs. Don’t let an undue bias affect your business this way!
The best software consulting firms provide higher degrees of industry focus. For example, they may specialize in solutions for the Manufacturing industry, or the Medical services industry. Industry expertise brings additional value to the customer, in that there is less ramp-up on the business problem. Also, industry expertise provides some perspective on your problem, often from similar engagements with peer-level client firms from the same industry. The most skilled software consultants bring to the table a technical mastery that can be applied in the client’s business problem domain.
For more on this topic, see how Entrance’s software consultants led one client through the process of choosing new accounting software.