Wednesday, December 8, 2010

#1 evidence managers seek when keeping/terminating a consultant

update -- Shuo (and others) suggests that boss relationship overrides all other performance metrics including productivity, but I feel Wall St is slightly different in terms of Salary and time-to-market.  If you get things done on time it really helps boss's promotion.

I think boss relationship means the non-objective, non-measurable, non-quantitative evaluations of a consultant.
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Q1: What do managers look at when keeping/terminating a consultant?
A: Note Some consultants are hired on prod support budget, but majority of consultants are hired on project budgets, so let's focus on the latter. The key question in this case is

Q2: Can this guy implement required *functionalities* on time, so business can use them on time? Note it's all about *business-value* [1]. Requires a, b but not c, d, f below

a) Familiar with current codebase in the system. You need to spend enough time in a given system. Every site is different. No portable knowledge.
b) practical java/sql/unix know-how. also eclipse, javascript, cvs, html practical know-how.
c) code quality -- code smells like "copy-paste". Managers don't care about this.
d) test coverage
f) advanced knowledge of java/sql/threading/GC/collections .... -- completely irrelevant to Q2 above. Managers don't care about this.

[1] When managers ask (or present) progress updates, they prefers high level terms, so they could estimate 40% (or whatever) of the required "business value" are now achieved. The higher you hit the management rank, the more you need to communicate in terms of business value, time left, time spent, additional manpower needed ...

When a critical project needs to be done on time, many managers prefer consultants because consultants don't take fake sick leaves or "family leaves", don't go to trainings, and are generally experienced.

Managers generally feel FTE are here to stay. Consultants and FTE are equally mobile job hoppers, but consultants are more subject to budget cuts. This factor has a profound influence. I have seen or experienced budget cuts affecting consultants in Verizon, GS, and other companies.

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