Our third Elusive Moose podcast episode covers the topic of estimating—how to do it, when to do it, and what to include. Jason and Molly talk about the different types of estimating they have done; being paid for discovery or needs-analysis; “bucket” versus line-item estimates; and more.
As a consultant, a wide range of prospective clients will likely seek your services. Some will become your favorites and others… not so much. How do you attract more of the kind of clients that you love working with and fewer of those who end up giving you more headaches than they’re worth? Here are 3 tips I’ve used to help me attract my favorite kind of clients. Make a list of favorite client attributes Who are your favorite clients and what makes them your favorite? Spend some time making a list of all of the things you like about working with your “ideals.” Is it the size or type of organization? Is it the company culture or the industry in which they operate? Is it the actual personalities of the people you’re working with? Jot down as many things as you can think of for each of your favorite clients, and then make a note of the attributes that are common across the board. For example, I love to make a big impact in a relatively small amount of time. While I don’t have an industry preference, I know that my preferred clients are small businesses with well-organized workflow […]
It was late 2011 and I was developing plans to start my own business. I discovered the challenge of presenting myself to the public as a custom software consultant. With little experience in marketing or branding I simply went with what I knew… me. One of my biggest challenges was how much my true self should influence my company brand and my marketing efforts. For over seven years, I had worked for an IT consulting firm of about 50 employees. Although I published articles and did conference talks as a representative of that company, I had no say in the public image. I simply adapted to the company’s brand. In addition to working as a software consultant over the years, I’ve always worked in the arts as a part-time musician and concert promoter. One reason that I was ready to strike out on my own was because my work in the arts was expanding and I wanted the time and flexibility to explore that area even more. While I had always kept my work in software and my work in the arts very separate, I had the urge to present a more comprehensive image of myself and stop living a […]
How do I pitch my technology of choice? Dear Molly, I’m an engineer headed into retirement and looking forward to starting my next career as an independent software developer. My question is about sales. On more than one occasion I’ve mapped out a solution that I know is going to solve the client’s problem within their timeline and budget, but the project gets stopped by an IT department that will not support my software of choice. How do I convince people that my technology of choice is going to be the right solution for them? Rick Torcia Hey Rick, My simple answer is, “You don’t.” There are certainly ways to make the case for your technology of choice and when I was a partner at a larger organization I had to do it on a regular basis. It takes time, research, and marketing resources. As a sole proprietor, this is not a battle I believe you should waste your time fighting. Studies show that almost every time, IT decision makers take the “safe” choice over the “right” choice. Who wants to stick their neck out on a new technology when, if they choose the existing/standard, they at least can’t get […]
Estimating work remains one of the deep dark mysteries of consulting work. Having a solid, measurable estimate is critical to tracking a project’s status, but coming up with that estimate can be one of most challenging aspects of managing a project. When I gave conference talks or taught workshops about project management, questions about estimating would inevitably come up. I would stress the importance of estimating, demonstrate how the estimate impacts other aspects of the project, and offer a few examples of how I estimate my own work. Frustrated attendees would still beg for a magic formula where they could plug in a few numbers and have the perfect estimate appear. The problem is that everybody’s skill set (or team’s skill set) is unique. Estimating work has to be developed and improved upon over time, starting with a method (any method), analyzing the results, and improving on that method. My personal favorite approach to estimating work (that may or may not work for you) is estimating in days instead of hours—well, sort of. I break down the work as closely as I can to discrete tasks. These could be a particular feature I’m developing for an application, a single web […]
When I worked as a project manager for the application development department of an IT consulting firm in Philadelphia, it was by far the best job I had ever had. I was well paid and respected by my colleagues and supervisors. I was given the freedom to develop initiatives that supported our company goals. I worked remotely, visiting the office only as needed. I was able to develop myself professionally by attending and speaking at conferences, purchasing books and other learning materials, and occasionally attending workshops that were directly related to my role. I had no real complaints, yet I continually felt like I wasn’t in the right place or doing the right thing. These thoughts plagued me through the recession that started in 2008 when friends were getting laid off from jobs that weren’t nearly as great and through my late thirties when I was supposed to be settling into what I would do for the rest of my life. I figured that my discontent was rooted in the fact that I had always lived a double life. During the day, I was a custom software consultant, and at night and on weekends I was a musician, audio engineer, […]