If you don't have a technical background, a software implementation consultant is an invaluable team member. They can improve your business processes, help you reach your business goals much sooner, and ensure the success of any upcoming projects.
But how do you find the right software coach?
There are many factors to consider when choosing a software consultant, and it's not always easy to know where to start. In this article, we'll explore why you need a software consultant, how to pick the right one, and the key questions you should ask to ensure you get the best candidate for the job.
First, you might be wondering why you even need a software consultant. If any of the following apply to you and your business, it's a sign you need a software coach:
- You don't have the necessary expertise in-house.
- You need an outsider's perspective.
- You want to ensure that your software project is a success.
- You want to save time and money by avoiding costly mistakes.
Access to specific expertise
An outsider's perspectiveIn addition to their expertise, software consultants can provide you with an outsider's perspective. When you're working on a project, it's easy to get tunnel vision and miss important details. A software consultant can come in and offer a fresh perspective, pointing out potential issues and providing solutions that you may not have considered.
Ensure project successWhat business owner doesn’t want to ensure a project’s success? Software projects can be complex, and without the right expertise, it's easy to get off track. A software consultant can help you stay on track, ensuring that your project is a runaway success.
Save time and moneyFinally, hiring a software consultant will save you time and thousands of dollars. Software projects can be expensive, and mistakes are costly. By hiring a software consultant, you’ll avoid unnecessary mistakes and get your project finished much sooner than you could alone. Whether you need help with a specific project or want to ensure that your software development process is on the right track, a software coach is a must. By providing expertise, an outsider's perspective, and ensuring that your project is a success, your software consultant will become a valuable asset to your team.
How to choose the right software consultant
Not all software coaches are the same, and it’s essential you choose the right person for your business or software project.There are a range of software specialists that do everything from designing and developing software to implementing new technologies and improving existing systems.
If you’re not sure how to choose the right coach, here are some key factors to consider when picking a software consultant:
- Experience: Look for a consultant with experience in your industry or with similar projects in their portfolio. An experienced consultant will have a deep understanding of your needs and can provide valuable insights and recommendations.
- Expertise: Make sure the consultant has expertise in the specific technologies or methods that your project requires. This will ensure they can provide you with the best possible solutions and help you achieve your goals.
- Communication: Choose a consultant who communicates clearly and effectively. Communication is key to the success of any project, and a consultant who can effectively communicate with you and your team will help ensure that everyone is on the same page.
- Flexibility: Ensure that the consultant is adaptable and willing to work within your project's constraints. A good consultant will be able to work with you to find solutions that fit your budget, timeline, and other project requirements.
- References: Check the coach's references and previous projects, including case studies. This will give you an idea of their track record and the quality of their work. You can also ask for referrals from other businesses or colleagues in your industry.
When picking a software consultant, it's important to take your time and do your research.
Remember, a good software consultant can help you save time, money, and resources while improving your business processes and increasing your bottom line.
Questions to ask a software consultant
When you’re looking for the right software coach, there are some specific questions you can ask that will help you figure out if they’re the right fit for your business.
Make sure you’re happy with the answers you get to the below questions before hiring a tech coach.
- What is your process for gathering project requirements, and how do you ensure that all stakeholders are on the same page?
Your new coach should have a clear understanding of the project requirements and ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page. A good consultant will have a structured process for gathering requirements, which may include interviews, surveys, or workshops.
- How do you handle changes to project scope or requirements?
Changes to project scope or requirements are inevitable, and a good consultant should have a process in place to handle them. They should be able to explain their process for assessing the impact of changes and communicating them to all stakeholders.
- What is your experience with project management tools?
Project management tools can help streamline communication and ensure that everyone is on the same page. Your new coach should have experience with a variety of project management tools and be able to recommend the best one for your project.
- How do you ensure that the project stays within budget?
Implementing new software is a key business investment, but it’s important to set clear cost expectations and stick to them. A great consultant will have plenty of experience with budget management. They should be able to explain their process for tracking expenses, identifying potential cost overruns, and communicating them to all stakeholders.
- What is your approach to user experience design?
User experience design is an important (but often forgotten) aspect of any software project. Your coach should be able to explain their process for designing user interfaces that are intuitive and easy to use.
- How do you ensure that the software is scalable and maintainable?
Scalability and maintainability are critical factors to consider when developing software. After all, your new software needs to scale with your business as it grows and hits goals. A good consultant will have experience designing software that can scale as your business grows and making it easy to maintain over time.
- What is your approach to security and data privacy?
Your new software implementation coach should be able to explain their process for identifying potential security risks and implementing measures to mitigate them.
- What is your approach to documentation and knowledge transfer?
Your team need to be able to maintain and update the software after the consultant's work is complete. Make sure you understand their process for documenting their work and transferring knowledge to your team.
- What makes you different from the other consultants out there?
There are countless talented software coaches that specialize in all types of software implementation. Figure out what makes this consultant different from the rest, and figure out if it’s enough to make them a good fit for your team.
- This is a long timeframe / a lot of money to spend! What do we get out of it?
Over half of all businesses that self-implement new software give up within twelve months and end up back at square one. It’s cheaper and less time-consuming to hire a software coach in the long run, but you still need to get value out of the deal. What does the new coach bring to the table that makes hiring them well worth your time and money.
- How will things be different?
You don’t know what you don’t know. Ask any potential software coach how processes will be different with the new tech stack. How will it improve your business? What specific differences will you see? They should be able to give you a full rundown if they’re familiar with the software.
- What's wrong with how we're running things already?
As a software expert, they should also be able to pinpoint issues in your current processes and highlight areas that would benefit from software implementation.
- What does the process look like?
If you’re unsure, ask them to walk you through the process of implementing new software. Will it be disruptive to your team? Will it require a lot of training? These are all important questions you need answered.
- Who can we call if we have a problem?
Will the new software coach be available if problems arise with the software? A good software consultant should be available to troubleshoot issues and support you with ungoing training if required.
- Will there be any downtime?
No one wants their business to grind to a halt while new software is getting implemented. Ask how long it takes to switch over to the new software and if there will be any downtime in the process.
- Why doesn't the (software company) offer this service? / Why shouldn't I just get the implementation service offered by the company?
Most software companies have in-house consultants to help with implementation, but they’re usually less specialised and don’t give a personalized service like an independent softare coach can. If you’ve been offered implementation services from the software provider, ask your potential coach what they do better.
- What does success look like for this project?
Finally, you should understand the goals of the new software and what your business will look like after it’s implemented. Your consultant should be able to tell you exactly how they measure success of the new software, and tell you how you’ll be able to tell the new software is an improvement over your old processes.
Red flags when choosing a software consultant
A lack of experienceOne of the most important things to look for in a software consultant is experience. You want to make sure that the consultant you choose has experience working with the specific technologies and methodologies required for your project. If they don’t have any past clients or have a lack of experience in the software you’re looking for, that’s a huge red flag.
No case studies or referencesAnother red flag to watch out for is a lack of references or case studies. A reputable software consultant should be able to provide you with references from past clients or case studies that demonstrate their ability to deliver successful projects. If a consultant is unable or unwilling to provide this information, it may be a sign that they are not the right fit for your project.
Poor communicationCommunication is also key when working with a software consultant. You want to make sure that the consultant you choose is able to communicate effectively and listen to your needs. If a consultant is unresponsive or doesn't seem to understand your requirements, that’s another red flag.
Inflexible and unwilling to compromiseFlexibility is important when choosing a software consultant. You need a consultant that’s willing to work within your project's constraints, whether that means working within a tight budget or meeting a tight deadline. If a consultant is inflexible or unwilling to work within your project's constraints, move onto the next candidate.
Hidden costs and feesFinally, it's important to consider pricing when choosing a software consultant. A reputable consultant should have a clear pricing structure and should be upfront about any potential hidden fees. If a consultant is not transparent about their pricing, run for the hills. By watching out for these red flags, you can make an informed decision and choose a consultant who will deliver the results you need.
Let Coachbar connect you with the right software consultant
With a little research and consideration, it’s easy to find the perfect software coach for your upcoming project. Remember to focus on experience and expertise, communication, flexibility, and references, and watch out for those red flags! With the right software consultant by your side, your project will be a huge success.
At Coachbar, we connect the right software consultants with businesses in need of expertise. Whether you’re looking to upgrade your business process, improve your accounting software, or get some expert advice on an upcoming software project, we have a team of highly-skilled, specially chosen coaches to help ensure you get the results you’re looking for.