Do I need a development team or a consultant? 

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Do I need a development team or a consultant?

Once upon a time, IT teams worked in small windowless rooms fielding calls from panicked employees who had just lost hours of work. Nowadays, IT permeates every single business activity from strategic planning to service delivery and management. Businesses need to stay on top of technological advances, including security, to drive innovation and remain competitive, but they can’t do it alone.  The question is, who is best placed to help them? Who has the same level of expertise in IT solutions that they have in their business area? It’s a big decision because getting it wrong is unthinkable. The first choice is who will deliver the solution: An IT development team or an IT consultant?  

Times Have Changed

The obvious thing to note is that a consultant is an individual.   As an individual, a consultant can only operate as a project manager. They can coordinate and monitor, but they can’t do. That used to be okay. If there was a software change or a new tool, a business could engage a consultant to oversee the implementation and then get along without them. IT development teams come with consultancy included and can provide tailor-made solutions with a breadth of expertise. They can offer massive value for money that a consultant can’t.

Reducing Overheads

A development team can provide end-to-end services tailored to complement the existing team for businesses with a core IT team. They work in partnership rather than in a hierarchical structure. Instead of building in-house teams for different development projects continuously, a development team can offer a business the tools, expertise, and reporting structure to manage performance and scalability without increasing headcount and overheads. Using a development team gives business transparency because it becomes a collaboration using the existing reporting structure. A consultant is paid to help different groups work together efficiently, creating additional multiple reporting lines.

Cutting Out The MiddleMan

With a consultant, there’s a single point of contact, which can mean a single point of failure. When a development project is over, and the consultant moves on, so does the accountability and possibly important information. A development team can coordinate directly with the core IT team for a seamless exchange of information and efficient sharing of how the business is structured. It keeps control of the project in-house and reduces the risk of misunderstandings.   When the project is over, the people with direct knowledge and understanding are still on the payroll.

Client or Customer?

In general, a consultant will view a business as a customer. When they leave, so does their expertise. Their role is finite and often limited to a particular project to do their job and move on to the next business that hires them. Once they’ve delivered, they’re done. A development team views a business as a client, they’re in it for the long haul, for future development and on-going maintenance. Their experts will guide business decisions for the long term, not the short term. They’ll consider the existing structure and potential future developments to ensure the system design avoids possible conflicts and enables synergy.   After all, their sole purpose is continuously identifying, implementing and managing cutting-edge solutions.   When a business asks itself if it needs a development team or a consultant, it’s wise to think beyond the specific project. Consider the long term implications of knowledge retention, future-proofing, and access to multiple solutions to ensure the best fit for the business now and in the future.