Richard Bucker

Contractor or Consultant?

Posted at — Mar 3, 2012

[Update 2012-03-04] Wikipedia has a great definition of “consultant”. (Everyone is an expert)Scott Berkum wrote an interesting essay; or so I thought because it struck a cord. This article was written in 2007 and before I realized that there was a followup to it in 2008; I had already replied.BRILLIANT! Most of these are easy to understand although they are an unpleasant reality.ADD is cause[d] by by an under-qualified individual in power and in fear of competition for their job [or intellectual cache] and so this is the only way to be the hero.CDD happens when an ADD hires someone only to find out that the other person is smarter, faster, more well read, however, ADD-man is still ADD-man.CYAE is also an ADD. In this case ADD’s boss usually make a hiring decision that ADD does not approve of. Then ADD goes into CYA mode and will sometimes go into get the other guy fired mode.DBD is also attributed to ADD-man. See ADD-man has read a few articles and magazines but he has no real experience. So he uses the words but does not really know what it’s supposed to do.GMPM, yikes, another ADD-man. This guy just wants to be the hero. He takes 2 months to fill a position that has been vacant for 6 months. The candidate is usually a slug and will eventually be fired or asked to clean the bathrooms.ADD-man is everywhere.[Update] a great book to read is herding cats.Chronologically I read the third article out of order. In this article Scott takes offense to the behavior of a single consultant and seems to generalize over the entire profession. I replied to the article too.I call bullshit! Since I’m writing [without] the benefit of having read the other comments I’m going to head for the heart of this.There is a difference between a consultant and a contractor. A contractor is there to do your bidding [dig ditches]. In many circles they call this workforce supplementation.Consultants, on the other hand, are there to do a different job. They are supposed to be subject matter experts (SME). They are supposed to cost more and they are supposed to get the job done. They might be there to train the staff or they might be there to implement some new function that would not distract from the rest of the team. Specially when the existing team is already engaged. The best part of a consultant is they are highly expendable and they know it. (and t They tend to work on critical yet very much proof of concept projects)[The best part of a consultant is they are highly expendable and they know it. Their assignments are typically measured in weeks and months where contractors can be measured in months and years.]Personally I’ve seen bigger assholes in the established teams because they think they are the shit. Think ADD.Yep, I take a little offense. Contractors and consultants are not the same service providers or service. And using a consultant when you need a contractor is as much the consumer’s responsibility. Consultants are people too. They want to do a good job. They want to get paid for a good job and in many cases they want to add value so that you might invite them back. Clearly the individual dynamics of the team are special and in many cases hiring a consultant that has not been screened by the team can offend some. But that’s a different problem. One that needs immediate management attention and not a rant from an ADD.Finally… In this case did Scott just become the ADD?