Introduction to this blog series
After being laid off by a Great Recession-era mortgage company in 2007, I entered into consulting. I made that switch from in-house DBA to consulting DBA at age 26 out of necessity, and as a professional and SQL consultant, I grew up in consulting.I've prepared this blog series as an intro to what it might be like going from an in-house position to a consulting position.
I made the transition myself. I've hired institutional DBAs to work as consulting DBAs. I've observed and coached others making the transition. I worked for more 12 years as a consultant with nationwide clients at an IT consultancy and MSP of ~250 people. Consulting as a database administrator was enjoyable and successful work that constantly sharpened my skills, and constantly exposed me to new challenges and the latest technology.
I enjoyed consulting work and I recommend it, especially for folks motivated to learn and see a lot of projects in a short amount of time. I think it's great for your first or second job out of college, just because of the career velocity you're likely to see.
That said, everyone's experience is different. I have seen folks get a raw deal in consulting: stuck on old project support, difficult clients, or worst, SharePoint development. But over time, consulting should provide a variety of learning experiences, both interpersonal and for whatever your technical skillset is. This blog series isn't just for SQL data professionals, it's for anyone entering consulting or thinking about it.
After 13+ years in consulting I took a position at Microsoft, a completely different type of in-house spot, and have spent some time reflecting on, appreciating, and unraveling some consulting work habits. I hope you or perhaps someone in your network will benefit from this blog series.
A caveat - I have not done independent or solo consulting as my primary employment. Instead, this blog series is focused on the millions of people working for consultancies both big and small, in any industry or field of expertise. If you're making the transition from in-house whatever to consulting whatever, I might have some wisdom here for you, even if you're not a DBA.
With all that said, let's get started.
Part 1 - The Patience of a Consultant
Don't jump to conclusions
Put on your toolbelt
Standardize your discovery
- Process: what questions to ask in what groups, what conversations to have, and what information to send and receive.
- Technical: how to find answers in a standard way, reference for FAQs, talking points for common training opportunities, scripts and/or diagrams for important conversations.
- It gives you a marketable asset for your partners in sales (or, yourself). Your time and process are valuable assets.
- It gives you a structure to fall back on when doing discovery or health checks. You won't miss anything, and your reporting will be thorough and useful to your future engagements.
- It gives you institutional knowledge for your junior team members and new hires to ramp up to your team's process, so that client deliverables are produced consistently.
Common structured findings concepts
Remediation = You've performed your health check/assessment/discovery/evaluation, and now you've got recommendations to make. Be sure to include not just the problem scenario, but also how you recommend solving it. Don't present the client problems with no solution, always recommend a path to remediating the problem, even if your consultancy doesn't offer those services.
- Moving Into Consulting 101 - Part 1 - The Patience of a Consultant
- Moving Into Consulting 101 - Part 2 - The Tact of a Consultant
- Moving Into Consulting 101 - Part 3 - The Hours of a Consultant
- Moving Into Consulting 101 - Part 4 - The Process of a Consultant
- Moving Into Consulting 101 - Part 5 - The Tensions of a Consultancy