“You don’t know the power of the Dark Side” …er… Maybe ya do?
In very few types of consulting do you wield such power and influence over the success or failure of the clients objectives as you do in software development. Intensifying your power, is that fact that often the client is oblivious to that influence. This is a simple reminder how not to be seduced by the dark side.
Be an extension of their particular team
Make sure that each developer, not just the manager, knows the clients business objectives and constraints. Be as direct of an extension of that particular client’s team as possible. Therefore, as you ask yourself, “how do I solve this problem” you should consider the case where “if this project does not go live on Friday the board is going to pull the plug on the whole project.” There are endless cases where your programming behavior should change based on real world constraints. Remember that it’s not software for software’s sake, the software usually only exists to meet a business objective.
Firm development principles
If you or your team has development principles that you will not waver from, like TDD or refactoring guidelines, make sure that the client both understands these principles, their effect on the project, and insure there is no conflict with their business objectives and constraints. Firms with good principles generally develop a good client base, but they have to say “No” to projects who’s objectives and constraints don’t align with these principles.
Have deep developer integrity, and a long-term view of success
The unspoken truth is that there’s often a conflict of interest with consulting development work. If you bill by the hour, the more efficient you are, the less money you make. If you have a fixed bid project, then cutting corners pays dividends. These conflicts exist however you construct your agreement.
Remember these conflicts of interest are only short-term. As in any service business, if you always do right by your customers, your reputation will spread driving referrals and good reputation will drive up your billing rate and demand.
So the choice is yours… Choose your light-saber:
Green light-saber philosophy: “We meet our clients unique needs”
Red light-saber philosophy: “Get bent, we know what’s best for you”