Business Consulting vs. Technology Consulting; what to look for in a Development Partner?

Most of the times the idea owners or the product initiators fill in the shoes of a domain expert role. They look for a co-founder who could take up the “technology” ownership. Now there is a date and the technology product start-up is delivered. Next comes the team building activity. There may be very few tech savvy people who would join the team. A small family is formed and they will start living together in a small flat or a garage. Sooner the start-up family will hit a road block; the time comes when they realize that they need external support. They will start looking for “Development” partner (Consulting) for various reasons starting from product solution, tech expertise, speed up the development, improve the go-to-market path or whatever the reason could be. Similar situation would ideally arise for small and medium sized enterprises too.

“To err is human, but to really foul things up, you need a computer” (Paul Ehrlich).

So, looks like the business of technology is to foul up things and the business of a Technology Consultant is to ensure that a business does not fail because of it’s fouled up technology!!!!

Yes, coming to think of it, can any business whether, start-up, small, medium or large be successful today without being backed up by technology? And what if the technology fails in its purpose??? No business, even if it is an SME or a start-up can go without including the cost of the hardware, software, special platforms, applications, maintenance, etc., suited to its industry, under its fixed capital and working capital projections!

While a Business Consultant comes in with his expertise on the industry, the market, strategies for funding, human resources management, marketing, lean management, increasing top-line / bottom-line and what not, (Name it and there will be a power point presentation ready to be shown with business jargons!),  what is actually not included in Business Consultancy is a specialized Technology Consultancy. A Technology Consultant may not actually be an expert on number crunching methodologies like a Business Consultant, but he/she is the one who will definitely help the business with his/her expertise on manpower and process time crunching methodologies! And no one can disagree that these will eventually bring down the cost of running a business.

Of course, this is not the whole purpose of a Technology Development Partner for Consulting. A Technology Development Partner has to have a lot more in him/her besides, of course, expertise in technology. He/She can be defined as one who will :

  • Understand the client’s business
  • The goals
  • The problems
  • Suitability to the industry
  • Processes involved
  • Product development cycle
  • Service life cycle
  • End user mindset
  • Operators mindset
  • Usability
  • Reusability
  • Ease of operation
  • Upgradability
  • Serviceability
  • Downtime / uptime
  • Maintenance
  • Total cost of ownership
  • ROI
  • Development time
  • Availability of operators / training capabilities
  • Current volume of operations
  • Projected volume
  • Scalability
  • Backup facility
  • Data Restorability / Retrievability
  • Volume of operation
  • Threat of obsoleteness
  • End to End Consulting

Besides all these, just like any other Business Consultant, he should also know the market trend, the value addition that he would bring to the business, knowledge on competitors’ similar products, and with all these and more, he/she should come with integrity towards the client, clarity on ownership of the product being developed, clear understanding on intellectual property rights, and commitment to stand by the agreed terms and a service mind that will work 24/7; See at the end,  dependence on technology can bring a business to a stand-still all of a sudden if it gets into the mood of fouling up things!