It's natural to wonder if you should bring in an outside technical consultant. Many managers worry that by adding an outside technical consultant to their product development team, they're sending a message that they lack confidence in their in-house team or are questioning their own ability to know what is and isn't a good product. Business managers who decide to hire an outside technical consultant find that the consultant not only helps the business deliver a highly desirable product to market, but also plays an important role in the overall growth of the company.
Whether you're working on developing a new application or you're maintaining an existing application infrastructure, there are several reasons why adding an outside technical consultant is worthy of consideration.
Outside Technical Consultants are Objective
One of the biggest risks connected to developing a product without the assistance of an outside opinion is shortsightedness from being too close to the project for too long. While caring about the product is important, there are also times when it's problematic. Some team members are so devoted to the product, they fail to see small things that could either hinder production or decrease the final market value.
The only thing the outside technical consultant cares about is helping you create the best product possible. They bring fresh eyes and fresh thoughts to the project. Not only will the consultant notice possible problems, the lack of deep personal connection means they won't be shy about mentioning the issue.
Family businesses are often the ones that experience the biggest benefit from a technical consultant's objective opinion. Unlike family members who are worried that if they state their concerns about a developing product may drive a wedge between family members, the consultant won't be afraid to provide an honest opinion about the product, and opinion they validate with research and data.
Businesses fostering a DevOps culture found that outside technical consultants are a valuable communications asset.
They Have Useful Product Expertise
Many managers are often surprised by how much a product, and often the entire business, benefit from the product expertise the outside technical consultant has. A good example of how product expertise benefits a business is when a consultant advises that, instead of performing a program change impact analysis by hand, the team uses cross-reference diagrams to evaluate risk.
They Contribute to Quicker Development Times
Many managers worry that adding another person to their product development team, especially an outside technical consultant, will slow the estimated production time, but in many cases, the opposite happens. Because the technical consultant has an objective opinion, has a great deal of IT industry experience, and knows how to streamline the testing and production process, bringing a good consultant on board early in the product development process usually results in significantly reduced product development times, which in turn results in lower production costs.
They Make Change More Bearable
Sometimes plans for a product your business is developing change. This can cause a great deal of tension in the product development team. Bringing in an outside technical consultant often eases the pain caused by changes to the product. Your team members will view the technical consultant as an expert in their field and often serve as the tool you need to get a buy-in from your product development team. Managers who have brought in an outside technical consultant have found that the consultant was an important tool for helping communicate both the need to change a project and helping the development team implement the necessary changes.
They Help Improve Product ROI
It's not unusual for IT managers to balk at the idea of paying an outside technical consultant, especially when they have a perfectly good in-house product development team working on the project. What many managers don't realize is that when all the benefits connected to the outside consultant are added up, the calculated ROI on the investment significantly improves. With a popular, well-marketed product, the improved ROI is often millions of dollars. Not only does the calculated ROI for a project improve when you bring in the outside technical consultant, but there have been many instances when the technical consultant has improved team communication so much, that something the consultant says or does sparks an idea for another product.
You and the outside technical consultant you bring on board have the same goal: to develop a product/application that will result in improved bottom-line growth for your business.
When to Enlist the Aid of a Technical Consultant
One of the biggest mistakes many managers make is that they wait too long to enlist the services of an outside technical consultant, sometimes waiting until just before the new product goes to market. It's best to hire the consultant early in the project, since this gives them a chance to identify problems before you've gone through the expense of developing a costly prototype.
Considering how much experience and skill an outside technical consultant brings to your business, you can't really afford to start your next project without one. While interviewing prospective consultants, look for one that has IT experience, understands the importance of good communication between themselves, the development team, and yourself, and who is as excited about the product as you are. If you're looking for a consultant with specific product experience, try contacting the vendor and asking about services.
Have you worked with an outside technical consultant before? If so, how did the experience improve your product or app development experience?