8 Compelling reasons to become an enterprise software consultantApr 28, 2022
If I were to say, accountant, teacher, doctor, engineer, or nurse, would you know what these careers are? Could you guess the effort required to learn the skill needed, earning potential, and possible lifestyle? How about a career as an enterprise software consultant? Would the word "software" cause you stress or cause you to lose interest? Or do you feel it's a hifalutin career that's not for you?
Would it pique your interest to learn about this profession or that YOU, or someone you know, could be a good fit?
Consider these compelling reasons to become an enterprise software consultant:
1. Information Technology (IT) degree is not required
A common objection to joining the software consulting profession is "I don't have a degree in IT." You don't need it. We have consultants who excel at software consulting and started their careers in non-IT professions - business management, accounting, engineering, teaching, etc.
There are different types of software, but you don't need to know what they are. No one knows everything. We are not thinking of software that runs robots, games, vehicles, appliances, medical, and other equipment for this type of work. We're not discussing software that captures information on social media (e.g., LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp) or AI (e.g., Alexa, Siri), or operating systems (e.g., Windows, Chrome, Android, iPhone)
Let's consider software that large businesses use to store and manage their operations. Think, companies capture information about their business operations, customers, prospects, leads, orders, sales, vendors, purchases, expenses, fixed assets, bank accounts, inventory, staff, projects, competitors, and investments. A small mom-and-pop store could use pen and paper or a spreadsheet to run their business. However, large companies process a massive amount of data; they need robust and integrated software to extrapolate and transform data into information. This heavy-duty software is enterprise software. We need people to learn how to use enterprise software and then train, consult, or advise companies on how to use them.
The consultant must know how to consult on a particular software. However, it's best to learn when you need to use it. The learning process starts there and continues throughout the consultant's life.
Consultants work to optimize an organization's business processes by automating as many steps as possible using the software's functionality. Therefore, consultants are always in a learning mode as it relates to business processes and the functionality of the software.
2. Flexibility in employment Terms (Work, however)
You may choose to work for an end-user organization or consulting firm. The end-user organization is the organization that purchases software licenses and employs the users and software that run their business. These end-user organizations are sometimes called "clients" or "customers." Your customer's business is usually not in the technology industry. So, if you're already familiar with their type of business, you are at an advantage.
Consulting firms hire software consultants to implement or integrate software for their clients. These companies are in the technology industry. Their clients are end-user organizations and members of other sectors (e.g., manufacturing, retail, professional services, distribution, engineering, and accounting).
Options for work:
- Who hires you:
- As an employee of consulting firms or end-user organizations (clients)
- As a subcontractor to consulting firms or end-user organizations (clients)
- As an owner who owns your consulting firm, providing service directly to end-user organizations or other consulting firms
- When you work:
- Full-time or part-time
- x number of hours/week/months per year
3. Flexibility in Work Location (Work wherever)
Some consultants love to travel, some don't, while others prefer a combination. All options are available.
Another common objection to becoming a software consultant is, "I have a family; I can't travel." For years, travel was almost always mandatory, and traveling up to 75% was a standard requirement. However, this has radically changed, especially since 2020. Clients are getting accustomed to receiving remote services, and technological advances provide a more engaging remote experience. Also, the demand for tolerable work-life integration has pressured everyone to find a way to make remote consulting an acceptable industry option. Advertisements like these are becoming common-place:
Example of an ad for a software consultant posted on LinkedIn in April 2022
Working from home, or wherever they prefer, can be a significant benefit and critical decision-point for a consultant.
Some engagements require the consultant to work on location at the client's office or travel for a predetermined period.
Work Location arrangement varies, so if it's important to you, remember to discuss it with your recruiter and target employer.
4. Flexibility in Working Hours (Work whenever)
Most of the consultant's time is spent eliciting, thinking, and communicating - training, coaching, advising, researching, collaborating, planning, facilitating and resolving conflicts.
Clients could be located anywhere in the world, across various time zones. The consultant's schedule must be flexible to meet the needs of the project, client, teammates, and other parties.
The consultant knows how to manage their schedule to deliver what they promised. If they wish to work at 5:00 am in their time zone, hit the gym at 8:00 am, or meet with the client at 10:00 am - that's acceptable, and no one is perturbed the consultant was unavailable at 8:30 am.
A flexible working schedule was my philosophy, and how I led my team, I believe more organizations are adopting similar principles.
Each organization has its expectations; if a flexible work schedule is important to you, please highlight it in your discussion with your recruiter or target employer.
5. Attractive Compensation
The earning potential for consultants varies widely and correlates to companies' revenue potential within each industry. The base salary range within the enterprise software space is over US$100K. Bonuses could run 10-15% of base salary; with additional benefits - it could stack up!
Nigel Frank's 2021 survey shows a Dynamics 365 Functional Consultant earns a base salary between $90K and $160K, depending on the product line and years of experience.
Screenshot from Nigel Frank's Careers and Hiring Guide 2022: Microsoft Business Applications Edition
Notice you'll seldom see an ad for a "software consultant." That's to be expected. IT is notorious for acronyms and made-up names (brands). :-) That's a blog for another time.
6. Creative Problem-Solving Environment
No software meets 100% of clients' needs or requirements. A consultant must ask good questions to understand what the customer needs. Clarify those questions and sometimes suggest alternatives to meet those needs.
Designing, testing, validating, and investigating solutions allows the consultant to explore creative options. What you do, depends on the extent of the consultant's ingenuity, research capability, and ability to collaborate. The absence of clear boundaries for your problem-solving makes it challenging to describe the software consulting profession based solely on what you do.
Check out Josh Knox's witty blog "What Do You Do?" where he contends with this question.
7. Opportunity for Continuous Learning
Working with people and technology forces consultants to remain current and relevant. As business processes improve and technology advances, consultants are provided with more input; they can reevaluate what they already know, then adopt or adapt to the new. Excellent consultants desire to serve their clients well, so they WANT to learn how those changes affect them. They research for themselves and articulate to the client in a meaningful and helpful way. Key principles of good management and leadership serve the consultant well and point to a successful implementation. The ability to learn, communicate and build relationships are critical assets.
Software consultants work in teams, as no one knows everything about enterprise software. The team relies on several members to provide the complete solution. It is important to know how to identify and match the client's or project's needs to the individual's skills and when to delegate or allocate tasks and seek help.
Consultants work for clients typically for 6-12 months, sometimes multi-year. The size of the project dictates the size of the team. Consultants interact with fellow teammates, management, clients, client management, software suppliers, and others. This builds community.
Are you interested?
Connect with me to learn more and start your journey!
Is there a catch? No! As with any good thing, there are possible pitfalls. A consultant does not need to be of a particular personality type; at this level, you are expected to work with integrity and other sound work ethics.
There is no one-size-fits-all. I have seen successful consultants who are extroverts and introverts with varying temperaments. Yes, as with life in general, some traits, skills, and abilities make it easier to navigate and be successful.
Working with a coach or mentor who can see where YOU need adjustments to be successful will help you get there sooner than working in a group or going alone.
Additional blogs on becoming a software consultant:
- What makes a great IT consultant – and how you can become one
- What Do You Do?
- How women can transform lives as software consultants
Connect with me at www.jenniferstarns.com