Software Engineers: How to tell if a software product vendor or a service-based Consultancy is right for you?

#Softwareengineers: How to tell if a software product vendor or a service-based Consultancy is right for you?

If your role occupies a function within the ever-changing software development life-cycle, you’ll face a choice at some point in your career between two kinds of organisations - a software product vendor and a service-based consultancy.

The fit and approach to your responsibilities that you bring to these organisations will impact your ability to perform your role and in turn, affect your colleagues and wider team's performance.

In addition, jobs in software development typically feature the opportunity to work on multiple projects/programmes of work or to focus on building a product that you believe will change the world (or its sector).

Software development has experienced something of a revolution over the past 5-10 years.  The collaborative customer and business-focused professional has emerged, replacing the  somewhat siloed, “back office” employee stereotype of the early 00s.

No more do Developers and Testers simply get on with their work; they must now interact with numerous stakeholders to identify, pursue and achieve common goals.

Everyone now works for the greater good/contributes to the company’s overall success. Sounds a bit of a cliché, but it's true. All for one and one for all, and all that.

However, there is now a distinct difference between the style of work and demands placed on software developers at product vendors and service-based consultancies.

How can you tell if a software product vendor or a service-based consultancy is right for you?

Here’s a quick guide to both to help you decide - do you take the red pill or the blue pill?

Key elements of working for a software product vendor:

  • Are you a fan of process?: Software product vendors are famous for being heavily process-oriented organisations with deliverables always clearly defined. You’ll be able to get deeply involved in the product development process.  Good people work within a process, but great people define the processes. Often each business has their unique take on what is effective and is keen to teach. You’ll benefit from the opportunity to work alongside and learn from top class leaders and gain valuable experience and knowledge - great for future career progression.
  • Teamwork makes it happen: To ensure the best-possible outcome, there is a large reliance on the members of the team meshing and working well together.  If you are a keen team player, you are likely to thrive in such a collaborative environment. As part of an internal team, you’ll be exposed to a strong company culture, often founded on well-defined metrics of quality and delivery, and have the opportunity to take advantage of growth and development opportunities within the company.
  • Expert status: By working on a sole product, your understanding of the domain/framework you’re operating with will increase every day and enable you to become an expert in that particular field. If in-depth product knowledge is what you seek, then a software product vendor is for you.
  • End-to-end ownership: You’ll play a significant role in the development and delivery of a feature, new product or new platform enabling you to see a project through all the way to its conclusion.

Key elements of working for a service-based consultancy:

  • No day is the same: Do you like change and enjoy a bit of variety?  At a service-based consultancy, the working environment is incredibly dynamic, often resulting in a large degree of fluidity to team structure, project ownership and processes.
  • Flexibility, variety - and a bigger pay packet: Within a consultancy you’ll experience different companies, teams and processes (on the client side), potentially preparing you to operate independently as a contractor.  Consultancies are more likely to hire contract staff who come at a cost premium to full-time employees to ‘flex’ their workforce in order to deliver large scale projects for clients.
  • Easiest and fastest route to becoming a consultant: Let’s face it - if you want to become a consultant, work in a consultancy. Fact. By working for a service-based consultancy, you will be able to keep abreast of the latest processes, delivery methods and new technologies - and build your expertise in these areas.

In this article, I’ve touched on some of the points to consider when choosing between software product vendors and service-based consultancies.  If you would like to discuss this topic further to decide which one is best for you, please don’t hesitate to contact us.