The Consultant’s Dilemma

I’ve worked as a consultant for my entire career, and one of the most rewarding aspects of it is the variety of projects you get exposed to. I’ve gotten to meet and work with great people over the years and have also gotten to work with a lot of emerging technology. In that regard, it’s been a great experience.

One of the most challenging aspects of being a consultant, and probably the biggest thing that makes it not a life for everyone, is what I call the “consultant’s dilemma.” It goes like this: A consultant is often brought into an organization to provide a specific set of expertise that does not exist in the organization at a sufficient level to meet a goal or solve a problem. Despite being brought in to provide a form of leadership, the consultant is never the owner of the solution; nor does the consultant have authority to direct execution. In short, a consultant is brought in to provide direction, but must do so from the back seat.

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Perspectives

Today marks the first day of classes for the spring semester at Salisbury (Maryland) University. This is significant for me because it also marks my first day as an instructor in the Masters of GIS Management program, teaching an online course called “Leadership in GIS Organizations.” This is my first foray back into academia in the 22 years since I finished my own degree.

Aveiro March 2012-18
By Alvesgaspar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

This new venture doesn’t represent a career change for me so much as an enhancement. I have spent my entire career working as a consultant, primarily developing geospatial systems for government (mostly federal government) users. This means I live in the for-profit private sector and interact with government fairly regularly.

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Slow Food

In 1985, I was a junior in high school and I got my first job at a local chain steakhouse. I ended up staying there for a few years and did everything, including management. This particular location happened to be the busiest store in the chain, which had a couple hundred locations at the time. Basically, we just unlocked the doors and people came in. We often had a line and managers from all over the country came to see how we did business.

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Lock-In

I’ve been a consultant/programmer/integrator/other for over twenty years now. That’s not quite long enough to say I’ve seen it all but long enough to notice a few patterns. Admittedly, I’ve spent the vast majority of that time working in the defense world so the patterns may be heavily skewed to that but I think not.

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Using Redmine for Proposal Management

I work at a technology consulting company that does a lot of software development. A while back, we started using Redmine to manage our software development projects. Redmine is an open-source, web-based project management tool. It provides a lot of capability, is easily customizable without coding, features SCM integration and, since it is built on Ruby on Rails, can be extended using RoR as well. We are still getting comfortable with it but it has been meeting our needs well and has been well-received by our customers. Continue reading “Using Redmine for Proposal Management”