How often are consultants actually the good guys?



  • Hi guys. I'm not a developer - the entirety of my coding experience is a university Java course - so the articles on this website are my most direct link to what software development is actually like. I know that these articles paint a fairly unflattering picture of the industry, but I still can't help but get the impression that, when a company hires consultants, this is always the wrong decision. Stories of consultants delivering overpriced, overdue, unmaintainable code abound. So, I'm just curious - how often do consultants actually justify their price tag? Is hiring a consultant usually a profitable move for a company? Or, could consultants simply disappear off the face of the earth without anything of value being lost?



  • Not all consultants are bad, but of course it hurts a lot when a company pays lots of moneys for a bad consultant.



  •  I'm a consultant and I'm cheap, efficient and I don't write code with a high wtf/minute ration.

    Does it answer your question? :)



  • Cheap ones are usually no wtf. There are a few good high priced consultants out there, but they are few.



  • My guess is that we only hear about the WTF consultant stories.

    Where is the fun in writting/reading about how a company hired a consultant that did his job right?

    "In my last job, we had an X problem. It was our fault because we are lazy moronic motherfuckers. Management hired a reasonable priced consultant, and he fixed the problem in a very short amount of time. It was perfect and saved our company a lot of money.
    The End. "


    No conflict. No story. No WTF, No Fun.



  • @fatdog said:

    "In my last job, we had an X problem. It was our fault because we are lazy moronic motherfuckers. Management hired a reasonable priced consultant, and he fixed the problem in a very short amount of time. It was perfect and saved our company a lot of money.
    The End. "
    The WTF here is that the submitter wasn't fired.



  • @fatdog said:

    My guess is that we only hear about the WTF consultant stories.

    Where is the fun in writting/reading about how a company hired a consultant that did his job right?

    "In my last job, we had an X problem. It was our fault because we are lazy moronic motherfuckers. Management hired a reasonable priced consultant, and he fixed the problem in a very short amount of time. It was perfect and saved our company a lot of money.
    The End. "


    No conflict. No story. No WTF, No Fun.

    Bingo.  Plus, there's a natural tendency to hate consultants because they are "outsiders" and the whole reason they get hired is to fix your fuck-ups.  So everybody dogpiles on consultants.



  • @Welbog said:

    @fatdog said:
    "In my last job, we had an X problem. It was our fault because we are lazy moronic motherfuckers. Management hired a reasonable priced consultant, and he fixed the problem in a very short amount of time. It was perfect and saved our company a lot of money.
    The End. "
    The WTF here is that the submitter wasn't fired.

    Who said the submitter wasn't fired?



  •  the main issue with consultants is that its a bit like rolling a dice, only the dice has "1" on 3 sides instead of one. (often more if your manglement believes saving money on hiring a external specialist is a good idea, so in our case its often all six sides that are marked with 1 )



  • In my experience, consultants are usually brought in for one or more of the following reasons;

    1. Blame deflection. In a largish project ( 100 gs or more ), consultants are the perfect "fall guy". They do the job asked of them, complete with all the conflicting requirements, and get it working to a semblance of what was asked of them. Although there is beauty here, as no one really knows what was asked of the consultant, so they have great leeway. Anyway, once "delivered", they leave. Then everyone gets to deal with the shit pile they dropped. Blame gets attributed to the consultant, who never seems to want for the next job opportunity.

    2. "We don't pay that guy enough to have an opinion"-syndrom. I can't tell you the number of times we've been handed a project, given our write up regarding it, only to have a consultant come in. The first things out of their mouths is often, "What would like to see come of this"? To which we hand over our report. The consultant will sometimes reword it, maybe reformat it, and hand it off to the bosses as original work. They'll be paid gross sums of money for THE EXACT SAME opinion/writeup/ect...that has already been turned in.

    3. Personal friend of the boss. Or a yo-yo boss brings in a consultant to do "fact finding", instead of learning the business processes for himself. Usually this consultant and the boss will have worked together in the past on multiple projects. IE: The only difference between this and nepotism is blood. Speaking of which...

    4. The "Consultant" is a nephew, or child, or niece of a C*O position. They have no working knowledge of the field, but they took a class in college, which obviously amounts to the same thing.

    5. And finally, we have the real consultant. Your company wishes to do "X", but there is no in-house experience doing "X". The consultant comes in, trains staff inhouse, sets up the service, documents the hell out of it and gets out, having delivered a real product that everyone likes. Also known as a "Snipe" ( for obvious reasons ).



  • @hobbes said:

    In my experience, consultants are usually brought in for one or more of the following reasons;


    1. Blame deflection. In a largish project ( 100 gs or more ), consultants are the perfect "fall guy". They do the job asked of them, complete with all the conflicting requirements, and get it working to a semblance of what was asked of them. Although there is beauty here, as no one really knows what was asked of the consultant, so they have great leeway. Anyway, once "delivered", they leave. Then everyone gets to deal with the shit pile they dropped. Blame gets attributed to the consultant, who never seems to want for the next job opportunity.


    2. "We don't pay that guy enough to have an opinion"-syndrom. I can't tell you the number of times we've been handed a project, given our write up regarding it, only to have a consultant come in. The first things out of their mouths is often, "What would like to see come of this"? To which we hand over our report. The consultant will sometimes reword it, maybe reformat it, and hand it off to the bosses as original work. They'll be paid gross sums of money for THE EXACT SAME opinion/writeup/ect...that has already been turned in.


    3. Personal friend of the boss. Or a yo-yo boss brings in a consultant to do "fact finding", instead of learning the business processes for himself. Usually this consultant and the boss will have worked together in the past on multiple projects. IE: The only difference between this and nepotism is blood. Speaking of which...


    4. The "Consultant" is a nephew, or child, or niece of a C*O position. They have no working knowledge of the field, but they took a class in college, which obviously amounts to the same thing.


    5. And finally, we have the real consultant. Your company wishes to do "X", but there is no in-house experience doing "X". The consultant comes in, trains staff inhouse, sets up the service, documents the hell out of it and gets out, having delivered a real product that everyone likes. Also known as a "Snipe" ( for obvious reasons ).
    FTFY.

    <br /> is your friend.


  •  I have experienced #5.



  • Thanks, and ya ya. I was in a hurry to post that and promptly forgot about it.


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