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The line between IT consulting and management consulting is quite often blurred, with overlaps between the two fields habitually happening. Worse still, most people do not understand who an IT consultant really is, or what he/she does. There are those who think the job entails fixing computers, others – selling computers and associated accessories. This is misleading though.

In a nutshell, IT consultants are professionals who aid businesses in deciding what computer tools and technologies are best placed to grow and sustain a profitable business. They work hand in hand with clients to help integrate IT systems into the latter’s business. They show clients how to use technology more efficiently, and in so doing, the client is able to get a higher return on their technology investments, and ultimately, increase the bottom-line.

IT consultants, or IT advisories, could work independently or for a consulting firm, with their clientele spread across all sorts of businesses and industries. Companies hire or contract the consulting firm to come in and analyze their IT systems and structure.

The job itself is not short of challenges, however, and the path to becoming a successful IT consultant is fraught with its fair share of ups and downs. But hey, which job isn’t? Experience is the best teacher they say, and only after you’ve worked as a consultant for a number of years will you finally gain invaluable understanding of what is expected of you. Learning from the experiences of those who’ve been in this business for long is a good starting point for those who decide to venture into the world of IT consultancy.

No industry is as global as software development.  Pervasive networking means that software developers can, and do, work from anywhere. This has led many businesses to hiring development subcontractors in other countries, aiming to find good development talent at lower prices, or with fewer hassles on entry into the US.

While this is an ongoing and dynamic equilibrium, there are compelling reasons for doing software development in the United States, or using a hybrid model where some parts of the task are parceled out to foreign contractors and some are handled locally.

Development Methodologies

The primary reason for developing software overseas is cost reduction. The primary argument against overseas software development is slower development cycles. When software still used the "waterfall" industrial process for project management (where everything is budgeted in terms of time at the beginning of the project), offshoring was quite compelling. As more companies emulate Google and Facebook's process of "release early, update often, and refine from user feedback," an increasing premium has been put on software teams that are small enough to be agile (indeed, the development process is called Agile Development), and centralized enough, in terms of time zones, that collaborators can work together. This has made both Google and Facebook leaders in US-based software development, though they both still maintain teams of developers in other countries tasked with specific projects.

Localization For Americans

The United States is still one of the major markets for software development, and projects aimed at American customers needs to meet cultural norms. This applies to any country, not just the U.S. This puts a premium on software developers who aren't just fluent in English, but native speakers, and who understand American culture. While it's possible (and even likely) to make server-side software, and management utilities that can get by with terse, fractured English, anything that's enterprise-facing or consumer-facing requires more work on polish and presentation than is practical using outsourced developers. There is a reason why the leaders in software User Interface development are all US-based companies, and that's because consumer-focused design is still an overwhelming US advantage.

Ongoing Concerns

The primary concern for American software development is talent production. The US secondary education system produces a much smaller percentage of students with a solid math and engineering background, and while US universities lead the world in their computer science and engineering curricula, slightly under half of all of those graduates are from foreign countries, because American students don't take the course loads needed to succeed in them. Software development companies in the United States are deeply concerned about getting enough engineers and programmers out of the US university system. Some, such as Google, are trying to get programmers hooked on logical problem solving at a young age, with the Summer of Code programs. Others, like Microsoft, offer scholarships for computer science degrees.

Overall, the changes in project management methodologies mean that the US is the current leader in software development, and so long as the primary market for software remains English and American-centric, that's going to remain true. That trend is far from guaranteed, and in the world of software, things can change quickly.

What are the three most important things non-programmers should know about programming?
 
Written by Brian Knapp, credit and reprint CodeCareerGenius
 
 
Since you asked for the three most important things that non-programmers should know about, and I’ve spent most of my career working with more non-programmers than programmers, I have a few interesting things that would help.
 
Number One - It Is Impossible To Accurately Estimate Software Projects
 
No matter what is tried. No matter what tool, agile approach, or magic fairy dust people try to apply to creating software… accurately predicting software project timelines is basically impossible.
 
There are many good reasons for this. Usually, requirements and feature ideas change on a daily/weekly basis. Often it is impossible to know what needs to be done without actually digging into the code itself. Debugging and QA can take an extraordinary amount of time.
 
And worst of all…
 
Project Managers are always pushing for shorter timelines. They largely have no respect for reality. So, at some point they are given estimates just to make them feel better about planning.
 
No matter how much planning and estimation you do, it will be wrong. At best it will be directionally correct +/- 300% of what you estimated. So, a one year project could actually take anywhere between 0 and 5 years, maybe even 10 years.
 
If you think I’m joking, look at how many major ERP projects that go over time and over budget by many years and many hundreds of millions of dollars. Look at the F-35 fighter jet software issues.
 
Or in the small, you can find many cases where a “simple bug fix” can take days when you thought it was hours.
 
All estimates are lies made up to make everyone feel better. I’ve never met a developer or manager who could accurately estimate software projects even as well as the local weatherman(or woman) predicts the weather.
 
Number Two - Productivity Is Unevenly Distributed
 
What if I told you that in the average eight hour work day the majority of the work will get done in a 30 minute timeframe? Sound crazy?
 
Well, for most programmers there is a 30–90 minute window where you are extraordinarily productive. We call this the flow state.
 
Being in the flow state is wonderful and amazing. It often is where the “magic” of building software happens.
 
Getting into flow can be difficult. It’s akin to meditation in that you have to have a period of uninterrupted focus of say 30 minutes to “get in” the flow, but a tiny interruption can pull you right out.
 
Now consider the modern workplace environment. Programmers work in open office environments where they are invited to distract each other constantly.
 
Most people need a 1–2 hour uninterrupted block to get 30–90 minutes of flow.
 
Take the 8 hour day and break it in half with a lunch break, and then pile in a few meetings and all of a sudden you are lucky to get one decent flow state session in place.
 
That is why I say that most of the work that gets done happens in a 30 minute timeframe. The other 7–8 hours are spent being distracted, answering email, going to meetings, hanging around the water cooler, going to the bathroom, and trying to remember what you were working on before all these distractions.
 
Ironically, writers, musicians, and other creative professionals have their own version of this problem and largely work alone and away from other people when they are creating new things.
 
Someday the programming world might catch on, but I doubt it.
 
Even if this became obvious, it doesn’t sit well with most companies to think that programmers would be paid for an 8 hour day and only be cranking out code for a few hours on a good day. Some corporate middle manager would probably get the bright idea to have mandatory flow state training where a guru came in and then there would be a corporate policy from a pointy haired boss mandating that programmers are now required to spend 8 hours a day in flow state and they must fill out forms to track their time and notify their superiors of their flow state activities, otherwise there would be more meetings about the current flow state reports not being filed correctly and that programmers were spending too much time “zoning out” instead of being in flow.
 
Thus, programmers would spent 7–8 hours a day pretending to be in flow state, reporting on their progress, and getting all their work done in 30 minutes of accidental flow state somewhere in the middle of all that flow state reporting.
 
If you think I’m joking about this, I’m not. I promise you this is what would happen to any company of more than 2 employees. (Even the ones run by programmers.)
 
Number Three - It Will Cost 10x What You Think
 
Being a programmer, I get a lot of non-programmers telling me about their brilliant app ideas. Usually they want me to build something for free and are so generous as to pay me up to 5% of the profits for doing 100% of the work.
 
Their ideas are just that good.
 
Now, I gently tell them that I’m not interested in building anything for free.
 
At that point they get angry, but a few ask how much it will cost. I give them a reasonable (and very incorrect) estimate of what it would cost to create the incredibly simple version of their app idea.
 
Let’s say it’s some number like $25,000.
 
They look at me like I’m a lunatic, and so I explain how much it costs to hire a contract programmer and how long it will actually take. For example’s sake let’s say it is $100/hr for 250 hours.
 
To be clear, these are made up numbers and bad estimates (See Number One for details…)
 
In actuality, to build the actual thing they want might cost $250,000, or even $2,500,000 when it’s all said and done.
 
Building software can be incredibly complex and expensive. What most people can’t wrap their head around is the fact that a company like Google, Apple, or Microsoft has spent BILLIONS of dollars to create something that looks so simple to the end user.
 
Somehow, the assumption is that something that looks simple is cheap and fast to build.
 
Building something simple and easy for the end user is time consuming and expensive. Most people just can’t do it.
 
So, the average person with a brilliant app idea thinks it will cost a few hundred or maybe a few thousand dollars to make and it will be done in a weekend is so off the mark it’s not worth considering their ideas.
 
And programmers are too eager to play along with these bad ideas (by making bad estimates and under charging for their time) that this notion is perpetuated to the average non-programmer.
 
So, a good rule of thumb is that software will cost 10 times as much as you think and take 10 times as long to finish.
 
And that leads to a bonus point…
 
BONUS - Software Is Never Done
 
Programmers never complete a software project, they only stop working on it. Software is never done.
 
I’ve worked at many software companies and I’ve never seen a software project “completed”.
 
Sure, software gets released and used. But, it is always changing, being updated, bugs get fixed, and there are always new customer requests for features.
 
Look at your favorite software and you’ll quickly realize how true this is. Facebook, Instagram, Google Search, Google Maps, GMail, iOS, Android, Windows, and now even most video games are never done.
 
There are small armies of developers just trying to keep all the software you use every day stable and bug free. Add on the fact that there are always feature requests, small changes, and new platforms to deal with, it’s a treadmill.
 
So, the only way out of the game is to stop working on software. At that point, the software begins to decay until it is no longer secure or supported.
 
Think about old Windows 3.1 software or maybe old Nintendo Cartridge video games. The current computers and video game consoles don’t even attempt to run that software anymore.
 
You can’t put an old video game in your new Nintendo Switch and have it “just work”. That is what happens when you think software is done.
 
When programmers stop working on software the software starts to die. The code itself is probably fine, but all the other software keeps moving forward until your software is no longer compatible with the current technology.
 
So, those are the four most important things that non-programmers should know about programming. I know you asked for only three, so I hope the bonus was valuable to you as well.

IT Outsourcing Outsourcing IT needs in the corporate world has become extremely popular because it is cost-efficient and it gives IT resources to companies that may not otherwise be able to afford them. Another positive side effect of IT outsourcing is that it has brought many technology jobs back to the United States.

As convenient and patriotic as IT outsourcing has become, it also have several limitations that have caused many companies to re-think the idea of funding their own internal IT group. It is important for a company to be completely familiar with these limitations before developing any kind of company policy in regards to IT.

The Customer Could Outgrow The Outsource Company

When an IT outsourcing company first takes on a new client, the relationship is beneficial to both sides. But things can start to get inconvenient for the client when the client's business starts to outgrow the capabilities of the IT outsource group.

An IT outsourcing company can become entrenched in the daily routine of its clients, which is great at first. But when the IT company can no longer keep pace with the growth of its clients, then the clients are stuck trying to find a new solution and keep track of its own IT assets at the same time.

The IT Outsourcing Company Lacks The Necessary Technical Expertise

IT outsourcing clients like to believe that their support company knows everything there is to know about computers and the Internet. But every IT support company has its areas of expertise and they have the technical areas where they are not quite as strong. If the client starts to experience needs from the areas where the IT outsourcing company is not so strong, then that can become a significant business issue.

This problem can be amplified if the client is a small business experiencing growth. An IT outsourcing company is not as likely to bring on new personnel for a smaller client, which leaves the client without a solution.

The Client Losses A Measure Of Control Over Its Data

No matter how large or successful an IT outsourcing company may be, there will always be the limitation of client security and the protection of critical customer data. All it takes is one rogue employee of the IT outsourcing company to compromise all of the client's critical data.

Some IT outsourcing companies have safeguards put in place to try and prevent client data compromise, but those safeguards are limited by how much access the IT company has to the client network. In most cases, that access has to be comprehensive for the IT outsourcing company to be able to do its job.

Outsourcing IT responsibilities can take a lot of stress off of a client and allow that client to operate his business by focusing on his core competencies. But there are limitations to IT outsourcing that could make it necessary for a client to do his own IT support and pay the extra costs.

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the hartmann software group advantage
A successful career as a software developer or other IT professional requires a solid understanding of software development processes, design patterns, enterprise application architectures, web services, security, networking and much more. The progression from novice to expert can be a daunting endeavor; this is especially true when traversing the learning curve without expert guidance. A common experience is that too much time and money is wasted on a career plan or application due to misinformation.

The Hartmann Software Group understands these issues and addresses them and others during any training engagement. Although no IT educational institution can guarantee career or application development success, HSG can get you closer to your goals at a far faster rate than self paced learning and, arguably, than the competition. Here are the reasons why we are so successful at teaching:

  • Learn from the experts.
    1. We have provided software development and other IT related training to many major corporations in Germany since 2002.
    2. Our educators have years of consulting and training experience; moreover, we require each trainer to have cross-discipline expertise i.e. be Java and .NET experts so that you get a broad understanding of how industry wide experts work and think.
  • Discover tips and tricks about C++ programming
  • Get your questions answered by easy to follow, organized C++ experts
  • Get up to speed with vital C++ programming tools
  • Save on travel expenses by learning right from your desk or home office. Enroll in an online instructor led class. Nearly all of our classes are offered in this way.
  • Prepare to hit the ground running for a new job or a new position
  • See the big picture and have the instructor fill in the gaps
  • We teach with sophisticated learning tools and provide excellent supporting course material
  • Books and course material are provided in advance
  • Get a book of your choice from the HSG Store as a gift from us when you register for a class
  • Gain a lot of practical skills in a short amount of time
  • We teach what we know…software
  • We care…
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