Consulting vs. Development

posted on 08/15/07 at 11:46:37 pm by Joel Ross

I've been meaning to post about this, but I've been very lax lately. Chris (Woody), from Nusoft (where I work) has a post about the differences between being a developer and being a consultant. It's an interesting question to ask, and the post is worth a look.

It's funny that he brings this up now, since I was just talking to another colleague about how an engagement I'm working on right now is actually consulting - we are going in, learning their current business, and guiding them towards a solution. In all honesty, beyond some prototyping, we're not doing any development. In most projects, I'm brought in after the deal is sold and we have a fairly good understanding of what we're building, and it's time to start designing it and then developing it. What most people think of as consulting is usually a mixture between consulting and developing - even some of what Chris describes is exactly that. Doing the work isn't really consulting. It's more software development that any good programmer can do.

I guess in my mind, consulting and software development are complimentary but don't have a lot of overlap. Consulting is the process of understanding a client's business, gaining trust with the client, and working with the client to figure out the best solution to solve a pain. Actually building that solution is software development (including architectting, developing and deploying the solution). Consulting companies are typically involved in all aspects of the solution mainly because most consultants are developers as well, and by building the solution ourselves, we can alter it to better ease the pain.

And that's the real difference in my mind. A consultant solves a business need. A developer solves a technical need. My ideal place is right in between - which is why I'm pretty happy where I'm at right now.

Categories: Consulting