Technical skill is just one piece of the open source consulting puzzle. Business skills are also crucial. Will Glass-Husain puts it all together in this popular tutorial on running a successful software consultancy. Combining business philosophy with practical tips and case studies, he highlights principles of customer service, time management, sales and pricing to help guide aspiring consultants manage their own business.
What are the motives for becoming a consultant in the first place? Glass-Husain points out the flexibility to manage time and interests, along with the profits that are possible. Open source can be a very valuable part of tech consulting since so many tools can be brought to a project. In turn, open source projects can really benefit from a consultant's input and are often better able to contribute back code.
Time (billable hours) and money (costs and revenues) must be taken into account at every point. It's vital to stay on top of project life cycles, and groom business opportunities in various stages. The biggest drains on a consultant's bottom line are things that gobble up time without contributing directly to project goals.
Just as important are customer relations and client perceptions. By building trust and providing clients with real value, many benefits flow. Highly satisfied customers lead to repeat business and referrals, meaning less time has to be spent on making sales. Glass-Husain mentions many practical ways to build reputation, including the importance of understanding the client's business and sticking with them in good times and bad.
Finally, how should consultants price their work? The key is articulating their value to the profitability of their clients. As projects are negotiated, the agreement must be clearly spelled out in terms of price and other issues like the ownership of intellectual property.
Will Glass-Husain is Chief Software Architect of Forio BusinessSimulations, a small startup located in San Francisco offering productsand consulting services to customers around the world. Will has beenprogramming since he was 10 and in one business or another since he was14. Will is chair of the Apache Velocity project, PMC member forJakarta and Turbine, and a member of the Apache Software Foundation.
This free podcast is from our Apachecon series.