So, you’ve done your research, and it’s clear that you’ll require outside help for your software project.
That leads you to the next question: What kind of external support do you need?
For most of our customers, it boils down to either software consultancy or software development — and no, they’re not the same thing. Knowing the difference between the two is essential if you want to set your project up for success and maximize your ROI.
Here’s all you need to know about the consultant vs. developer dilemma (and how to determine which one is right for you).
Consultant vs. Developer: What’s the Difference?
What Does a Software Consultant Do?
Software consultants are experts who are paid to provide advice and know-how about IT technology and software systems to third parties.
A consultant may be asked to weigh in on a specific product or software development project. In other cases, they take on a broader business perspective and analyze an organization as a whole to identify opportunities for improvement, such as:
- Provide tech and implementation roadmaps and guidance
- Update or replace legacy technology
- Design new systems and architectures
- Streamline current business processes
- Bridge the IT skill gaps in in-house teams
Oftentimes consultants also help with the implementation of software solutions.
What Qualifications Do Software Consultants Have?
Software consultants typically come from an information technology background. Many will have worked as software developers before moving into consulting. Markers that set them apart from other IT professionals include:
- Long-term experience: Most consultants hold a BA in Computer Science, and virtually all have many years of professional experience, often as senior software developers.
- Expertise: Software consultants have advanced knowledge of a specific technology, industry, or field.
- Project management experience: Consultants have either direct project management experience or a very good understanding of it and can provide support on that front if needed.
- Mentoring/coaching: Knowledge transfer is a big part of software consultancy. A consultant will not only advice you but will also coach your in-house development team and other staff members.
- Ownership: From discovery to solution, consultants can and often do take charge of the whole process to ensure a smooth transition and optimal results.
- Communication skills: Excellent communication skills are essential, as consultants spend a lot of time with clients, in-person or remotely.
What Does a Developer Do?
Software developers, also known as software engineers or computer programmers, design and create software and applications using coding.
There are two main categories of developers: applications developers and systems developers. The former specializes in building specific programs or apps, while the latter builds the underlying systems or networks that enable other programs.
Developers have a very hands-on role in production and development. While their primary function is working on software design and writing code, they may also gather project requirements or documentation and even oversee other IT professionals, including developers, technicians, and computer technologists.
What Qualifications Do Software Developers Have?
Typically, software engineers are experts in at least one programming language. Other common qualifications include:
- Experience: The average software developer holds a BA in Computer Science. The most experienced will have worked in senior developer roles for a number of years.
- Specialization: You can expect developers to be well-versed in specific Frontend and/or Backend technologies.
- Knowledge of systems & infrastructure: These include various data structures, databases, and methodologies.
- Initiative: Software development is a creative endeavor, and the best creators are open to taking risks and innovation.
- Lifelong learning: The software development industry is always changing. Engineers must grow with it, keep up with technology trends, and constantly learn new things.
Are Software Developers Also Consultants?
Now that you know the basic differences between consulting vs. software engineering, it’s time to insert a little caveat: In reality, the distinction between the two isn’t always as clear-cut.
You see, software developers can also be consultants.
A good consultant must have more than basic knowledge of development practices and the software development life cycle (SDLC). They should know how things work in real life, including potential problems and bottlenecks in the development process.
So, the road to becoming a successful consultant usually starts with a solid experience in software development. Otherwise, you may not attain the hard skills and technical knowledge required to progress to the next level.
That said, consultants are more than just really good developers. Consultancy is a client-facing, project-management affair, which isn’t the case for the typical software development role. Engineers looking to move into consultancy therefore need crucial soft skills and a good understanding of business operations.
What Are the Software Consultants at Zartis Like?
At Zartis, all of our consultants are senior developers with many years of professional experience in a specific area of software development. Think of them as a multi-functional, consultant-developer team.
They have coached, mentored, and led multiple teams or projects, accumulating expertise and skills to become true experts ready to share their knowledge with your in-house development team.
This enables us to provide you with high-quality solutions across:
- User experience (UX)
- Frontend development
- Backend development
- Mobile development
- Development & operations (DevOps)
- Data science & engineering
- Quality assurance
Consultant vs. Developer: Which One Do I Need?
To determine whether you need consultants or software developers, consider the nature of the project and your long-term business objectives. Questions to ask yourself include:
- Am I looking for resources or expertise?
- Do I have an in-house technical team? Can they do all or most of the development work under the guidance of an external consultant or project manager, or would they require extra hands on board?
- What do I want to achieve? Am I hoping to replace or improve existing systems and processes, gain technical know-how, or build new software solutions?
- Will my internal software developers need help with the implementation of software?
- Do I need strictly technical advice, advice on strategy, or both?
Still Can’t Figure Out If You Need Software Development or Consultancy Services?
We’ll help you determine whether you need guidance and expert advice only or should look into building an extended team of senior software developers.
Start the conversation to solve the consultant vs. developer dilemma for good and take your business to the next level.