We examine the pros and cons of hiring a software consultant, when should a business consider hiring one, and if hiring a software consulting agency the ideal approach.
Today, technology is at the very core of the global economy.
In some form, software solutions permeate virtually every facet of our daily lives regardless of where we live and what we do.
This is especially true for business owners, seeing as technology investments are proving increasingly necessary to maintain competitiveness across all industries.
Forward-thinking executives are already working on the digital transformation of their companies for the 21st century — but there are plenty of practical obstacles that make the process more difficult than it first appears.
While the now-famous adage of “all companies being software companies” is slowly coming true, not every company has the capacities and resources for developing their own software solutions in-house.
Even an effective and experienced software development team may stumble for a variety of reasons.
In that case, looking outwards is the only way to handle the growing technological needs of a fast-paced business environment.
And make no mistake — while the global marketplace has brought an unprecedented level of trade and interconnectedness, it has also brought global competition to even the smallest product manufacturer or service provider.
Regardless of whether you’re a brave entrepreneur or at the head of a corporate conglomerate — there isn’t much room for error in the race towards digital transformation, and getting over the learning curve on your own may be difficult.
All of this demand for outside help on software projects has led to the rise of software consultant professionals and agencies.
But when is the right time to turn to a professional software consultant, and what do they actually do?
Also, what are the pros and cons of hiring an agency vs keeping everything in-house?
This in-depth guide breaks down all of this into the following sections:
In short, software consultants are professionals whose job is to assess the processes of an organization or business and provide software-related recommendations or software solutions based on their assessment.
These professionals do their work either as a part of a software consulting agency or as employed individuals within your company.
Depending on their roles and the nature of the project, they may integrate specific, custom-made software solutions into the processes of corporate clients to increase their efficiency, minimize costs, or reduce manpower requirements.
For instance, a fitness center or a gym may reap huge benefits from integrating the right proprietary software into their business — with features like tracking the progress of individual gym members and providing them with visualized data and personalized recommendations.
A software consultant may specialize in providing such a software solution to the relevant corporate audience and pitch their software to various organizations and businesses related to the fitness industry.
As we’ve already mentioned, various types of software have become necessary for all kinds of industries.
That’s why the most successful software consulting service companies are those with competencies and experience as varied as the limitless potential of software solutions — in other words, agencies that serve clients from the widest variety of industries.
When companies have a specific (or vague) idea about the software solutions they need as fuel for their ongoing digital transformation, but they don’t have the in-house capabilities of creating and implementing them — that’s when the expertise of a professional software consultant is invaluable.
This is just as true for companies that already have well-developed IT capabilities.
For instance, a real estate agency that has in-house IT professionals (such as webmasters or other kinds of computer programmers) might need a consultant to help them arrange a custom property database to suit the agency’s needs in terms of information management — or better presentation to their own clientele.
The increasing reliance of all businesses on technology also means that improved or new software solutions provided by software consultants frequently reduce the cost of doing business or make some job roles within the organization obsolete.
Data management is a good example here, as today’s software can be used to analyze patterns found within heaps of data, retrieve a specific chunk of information according to various parameters — completely eliminating the demand for hard copy storage.
The expenses tied to various filing systems and filing rooms can be quickly swept away.
Of course, this also results in the business no longer needing a filing clerk position.
Now that you know what software consultant do for various businesses, the question to ask yourself is — should my company consider hiring software consultants?
To determine this, you must consider a host of factors that paint a clearer picture of your company’s software needs. Here are some questions to think about:
In many cases, a transformational period for a consumer-oriented company means their IT department will be flooded with help and support requests.
Also, if you find that your current enterprise software is subpar as a result of poor design, lackluster integration, or something else — these are all reasons to seek help from software consultants.
At the end of the day, even the most tech-savvy executive isn't a developer — so they're not necessarily familiar with the wide range of software options, functionalities, and features that are available and forever evolving.
Most businesses aren't equipped with the right skill sets and resources to utilize a software solution out-of-the-box, with no instructions or customizations.
If you want a new solution to play well with your current tech or to adequately replace it, outside expertise might be necessary.
All of these challenges may pose a problem if you don’t enlist external experts.
And such professionals are found in established software consulting agencies that thrive on providing their experience, skill, and technological prowess to other businesses through customized solutions.
In practice, these situations warrant considering an outside software consultant:
Considering all of the above — here are benefits if you decide to go the route of seeking help from an agency.
In a lot of cases, a software consulting agency are hired by organizations or businesses on a project basis.
In other words, both parties agree on the scope of the project, as well as its time frame — and then the consulting firm research to propose viable options and afterwards integrate their suggested software solutions into the client’s existing workflow.
Typically, the project team contains both personnel from the client company and the software consultancy.
They work together to reach an understanding of the software solutions that would best suit the needs of the client company.
Often enough, the client's personnel will receive instructions or more detailed training for the integrated software as a part of the project — becoming intricately familiarized with the various functions of the software.
Consider your overhead expenses when adding a full-time software consultant to your payroll.
For example, there are employee benefits, taxes, medical insurance, paid time off, and unemployment taxes that the company needs to pile on when hiring a new employee in-house.
Not to mention, the time that your company’s human resources department need to allocate during the interview process in order to find the ideal candidate for the job.
Consider this and most likely you will realize it is much more cost-effective to alleviate this when hiring an agency.
Software consultants need to have a wide range of skills to remain versatile and competitive in their work.
Inherently, they must know nearly as much about project management as they do about the intricacies of software development.
Seeing as versatility is their main strength, you will find that software consulting services companies are often full-stack developers and software development specialists with plenty of experience under their belt.
As a result, deciding to hire a company for software consulting service means you’ll be able to access a huge talent pool containing candidates of different experiences, skill sets, and backgrounds.
As internal development teams keep working on the company’s projects for a long time, some degree of tunnel vision is inevitable.
That’s why an outside view that an agency provides can be invaluable.
If the internal developers become invested in creating a website or an app themselves, objective criticism within the company may become tough.
If you're a manager or executive who wants to get better insight into the progress of the company's software development efforts — getting a third party to look at it is a great way to get the best "lay of the land."
Furthermore, software consultants are particularly effective at providing constructive criticism and advice on projects — giving dev teams actionable steps for moving forward in a more efficient way.
Soon enough, you will find your internal teams utilizing available resources more effectively due to the steering of professional software consultants.
Any project that a company embarks on has some budgetary constraints and a strict timeline — the only question is whether your internal development team can deliver something meaningful within those parameters. If you want to alleviate such concerns, involving software consultant is a good idea.
Depending on the software development niche and the type of help you need, the right kind of consultant will be necessary.
Luckily, you will find that a reputable agency providing software consulting service are usually home to a wide range of experts that are, together, capable of tackling any task or issue.
Whenever a company decides to implement a new software solution or radically alter its existing one, there's always a certain degree of risk involved.
Regardless of the expertise of the developers involved, some missteps and mistakes will likely happen.
Whether these are technical bugs or design faults, one thing is certain — after a point, your own team may not have the resources necessary to resolve them on time.
However, involving a software consulting company usually means you can deal with such mistakes before launch.
Not only will you save precious time and reduce development expenses, but you’ll also end up with a more refined system that provides greater benefits to your company.
Plus, the advice given by outside consultants on the current development cycle can be useful for when your team tackles future projects as well.
All software developers who are working on a product of their own have one thing in common — they want their website or app to be as great as possible.
While this is an admirable quality, it can also result in feature creeps — a common phrase describing the excessive inclusion of additional features and overblown expansion.
If left unchecked, it can mean a bloated codebase or integrates platform with poor performance on intended devices.
Working with a professional software consulting service from the get-go can help you avoid this and stay focused on the core of your project.
Consultants are used to working within strict deadlines and on very specific projects, so staying on point is one of their key skills.
And it’s not like the previous work of your software development team is necessarily for nothing — cut features can always be completed and added in future updates or more specialized versions of your application.
One of the great things about hiring an agency to provide software consulting service is that you’ve got practically limitless options.
Today’s world of remote work across the globe means you’ve got access to a huge breadth of talent that’s not bound by language or regional barriers.
The only thing that matters is whether you’re impressed with someone’s resume or portfolio — if they’re a great fit for your company, you don’t even have to meet them in person.
Plus, this kind of external insight can mean a significant improvement in your team's engagement and productivity.
And if you find that the software consulting company you've hired for one project has "clicked" with the team, you can always seek them out for further collaboration down the line.
Having your sights set on a clear end goal is definitely important when your company is implementing new software as a part of your ongoing digital transformation.
However, knowing the results you want isn't enough — if your team is going to get there, you'll need a realistic roadmap and a carefully segmented workflow.
This is another aspect of the process that hiring software consulting services help with — and where their project management expertise shines through the most.
An outside expert can help you gain a clearer picture of all the individual development elements and put them together into a coherent whole.
While a lack of skills and expertise to complete a project is something that in-house teams can encounter, subpar resource and time management is a far more common culprit for project failure.
The worst thing that can happen is severely breaching deadlines or going over budget — resulting in dissatisfying crunch time, financial loss, and in the end, a subpar software implementation.
Instead of risking all of that, hiring software consulting services help bail you out.
The earlier the agency is involved in a project, the better they can steer it to avoid all of the above.
Your project can be completed within the allocated deadlines and under budget, as long as the right people are involved.
As we've mentioned in short above, finding a good company with software consulting service can mean having a long-term "all-around" player for your team.
Whether you're thinking of hiring an in-house consultant or forging a relationship with a software consulting agency — aligned interests can be beneficial for everyone.
Finally, the single biggest reason to employ a software consulting services is practically an amalgam of all the reasons above — in the end, you'll have a better end product.
Regardless of whether it's a small new part of your overall tech stack or the digital transformation of an analog company:
Software consulting services company will use all the expertise and tools at their disposal to make sure you end up with the best possible results.
While hiring outside software consultants can be hugely beneficial for any project, it’s all about finding the right firm for the job.
Remember, a subpar consultant can easily compound problems instead of solving them.
In an effort to cut expenses during the software development or integration process, plenty of companies look to outside vendors that offer attractively lower rates.
However, in the long run, choosing a cheap vendor for the handling of specific development tasks can actually mean more costs.
If the low prices of the consultants come from their skimming on management and analysis, their input may very well result in the scope creep you were trying to avoid.
Also, the experience of the software consultants is important.
A company that has recently entered this line of work or shifted from another software development niche will likely offer lower prices — but their lack of experience with your type of project may lead to missed deadlines and higher costs down the line.
If you turn to a company that employs additional external analysts and developers, you probably won’t be able to vet them as thoroughly as you would someone on your internal team.
That can lead to the involvement of inexperienced developers and further development hurdles as a result.
You can avoid these pitfalls by hiring agencies that have experienced project managers.
Find experienced people that are capable of processing your company’s needs and producing a practical plan on how they can meet your software requirements.
While we’ll get into the specifics of hiring the best possible consultants below, in short:
Remember to study their certifications, check their references from previous clients, and thoroughly read the case studies they’ve provided.
One of the main reasons people look for software consulting services is to allow themselves to focus on the core of their business.
However, if a software consultant fails to effectively cooperate with your team and manage the project, you will need to step in.
As a result, makes the entire project a huge distraction from the core of your business.
This kind of disturbing micromanagement can be avoided if you hire an experienced consultant that’s well-versed in mature project development — making them independent enough not to require daily input or micromanagement on your end.
Remember, you are hiring an agency to do the job right.
Let them act like one vs spoon feeding them the work.
Companies often resort to outsourced software consultants in the process of implementing new technologies.
And while these consultants often provide their expertise at substantially lower prices, you may find that collaborating with them comes with plenty of caveats.
Cultural differences, language barriers, and most of all — time zones; all of these hurdles are something you may have to overcome, depending on what software consultant you hire.
If you want to avoid such issues, check how much experience a consultant has with companies from your industry niche and geographical region.
Also, depending on how much of the development you decide to outsource — the increased speed to market may be achieved via the wrong means.
In some cases, quality insurance suffers — resulting in poor code, a weak software architecture, low solution adoption, security issues, etc.
As you might have concluded yourself, all of these downsides don’t mean that you shouldn’t rely on external expertise — you just need to choose your consultants carefully to ensure a return on investment.
If you decide to hire a company for software consulting services, you’ll definitely solve some of the issues we’ve outlined above.
However, companies that need assistance temporarily and don’t have enough demand to warrant a full-time software consultant will be better off with a software consulting agency.
Should you choose to go down this route, settle for nothing but the very best to avoid the above-mentioned downsides of subpar consultants.
There are plenty of software consulting services out there.
However, not all of them will give you the same quality of talent and expertise.
You want someone with the dedication and drive to see your project through to the end.
When comparing different vendors explore their work history, previous success projects, overall portfolio, and approaches to collaboration.
Reputable agencies are always more than willing to provide a list of previous clients and projects.
And a lack of that is one of the biggest red flags you can encounter — showing they probably don't have the expertise they claim to wield in reality.
Start with the website of the consulting agency, and peruse their clients section.
Also, if you see that the consultants already have experience with someone from your niche or industry, that's even better!
Believe it or not, the most important quality any kind of consultant can have is listening comprehension.
There are plenty of genius software consultants out there that don’t have the interpersonal understanding necessary to tightly manage a project and complete it with everyone being satisfied, under budget, and within deadlines.
The best software consulting services companies are the ones' who:
Likewise, great consultants always ask plenty of questions.
The most skilled professionals in this field can draw out “hidden” needs and requirements that you weren’t even aware of.
As a result, helps you narrow your scope and end goals in the process.
Targeted, well-considered questions are a sign you’re dealing with an engaged company, especially if they ask various people in your organization to eliminate any potential blind spots.
By the time the conversation ends, you should be confident that your consultant has achieved a firm grasp of your project's goals, making them ready to provide actionable insights.
One of the main ways professional consultants ensure product quality is through continual testing right up to launch day.
This should include both user experience and functionality tests with the consultant keeping a close watch on all the results and acting upon them accordingly.
We've spent a lot of time going over what you should expect from software consultants and what you can do to make sure you're in business with the best possible people.
However, it would be best if you remembered that collaboration has two sides — and a successful one is impossible without you doing enough on your end.
For starters, you need to clearly define your project goals to any consulting candidates — allowing them to understand the expectations and needs of your company adequately.
In turn, this means they’ll always be aware of your business objectives and project requirements.
Inform potential consultants of any software issues you've currently got in your workplace.
Those can be problems pertaining to specific technologies or general issues that you're trying to resolve via new software.
Also, if you've been considering potential solutions to these problems, feel free to share them.
The consultants will gain valuable insights into your way of thinking and the company's modus operandi.
For instance, if your company is thinking of building a mobile app for its e-commerce capabilities, a consultant may start by analyzing whether this is feasible or not.
Naturally, your company will have some sort of set budget for the projects on which you’re bringing in the consultants.
Budgetary limits are some of the most important pieces of information to potential consultants, as they’ll need it to understand the feasibility of the project in its current state.
In conclusion, businesses can reap plenty of benefits from the expertise of hiring a company providing software consulting services.
This is a particularly attractive option if the software project is a one-off event — there’s no sense in spending a fortune on developing in-house talent that you won’t need after the project is completed.
Also, when your company doesn't have the skill set required to implement the project in practice, you'll need outside talent.
In that case, the decision to find software consultants is an easy one, especially with projects on a tight deadline.
And finally, most software projects involve plenty of grunt work that doesn't require genius-level programmers.
Consultants may help you save money on this by finding ways of implementing the necessary code more affordably.
All that being said, make sure you're dealing with the right agency.
Opting for subpar professionals will just end up bloating the project even more, so ensure you've done your due diligence before making your choice.