The actual cost of technical consultants is debated. Some camps believe that technical consultants are more expensive – they receive more money in their paychecks than a FTE on a weekly basis. Others reason that technical consultants ultimately cost the company less with zero resources being put into finding them or towards their benefits packages.
Regardless of what it actually costs the company, there is more money in an IT consultant’s weekly paycheck than in the FTE employee’s. Companies are aware of this, and often scrutinize their consultants’ work. Here are 5 ways to make sure that your client’s confidence remains high in you (and your work) so that you remain contracted for an extended period of time.
1. Be on the cutting edge of technology
You’re a technical consultant, so your client expects you to have a certain level of knowledge. (We’re not talking what you learned in Computer Science 101.) They expect you to be up on the latest trends in your technology.
Make sure that you keep yourself sharp. Be active in forums. Read. Practice, practice, and did I mention … practice? And once you’ve mastered the newest techniques, implement them. By performing these advanced technological feats, your personal value to the company skyrockets. You’ll be an encyclopedia of technical knowledge that they’ll be able to reference.
2. Inform them of new techniques
You’re up on the latest advancements in your technology. (You did read step one, right?) While that knowledge will help you to perform all of your personal duties, make sure that you share that knowledge.
Inform your client organization of new techniques and strategies that will help the whole team/company. They may not implement your ideas, but at least they know that you’re a thought-leader in your area of expertise, someone who’s worth their paycheck.
3. Understand the company backwards and forwards
Your company sells insurance. Or rabbits. Or lollipops. That’s great. But what do you know about your client beyond that?
To be the best technical consultant, the kind that makes a client glad they hired you, you need to have a greater understanding of their organization. You have to know their business objectives/goals/requirements. And then? Brainstorm how you’ll help meet these goals and minimize risk.
By making such a productive and proactive effort in furthering the company, your client will come to understand that you’re worth your weight in gold.
4. Be productive
You go to work. You don’t procrastinate. You spend the day managing projects or writing lines of code. You’re doing enough to make your client happy, right?
Not necessarily. You’re only doing enough when you are producing more quality work than the FTE in the cubicle next door. (Sorry, Ed!) If you have a high throughput, writing more lines of bug-free code or managing more successful projects, then your employers will be more than happy to pay that high dollar for your service. Having both quality and quantity to your work output proves your value.
There are two types of consultants – the ones who communicate, and the ones who don’t. It doesn’t take too much effort to guess which ones are more successful, does it?
Communicating with your employers, often through a status report, gives them a better sense of what you’re doing. They’ll know what you’ve accomplished this week, and what you plan to do in upcoming weeks. This illustration of an above-average contribution to the organization ensures that clients don’t question whether or not you’re worth the money. They’ll simply know that you are.
Whether or not a technical consultant costs a client organization more money is still up for debate. What isn’t up for debate, however, is that when an IT consultant understands their company, communicates effectively, and makes productive contributions, there’s no way they’ll find themselves searching for a new contract.
What do you do to ensure that your employer’s confidence remains high in your technical consulting skills? Let us know in the comments section or join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Thanks to greggoconnell for the use of their respective images.