Software development team troubleshooter/auditor. What do you think?


2

I have an idea for a business and would like some feedback.

The other day I was thinking about software development teams and how they function, the things they do right and the things they do wrong. It struck me that there might be a market for a "development troubleshooter". The idea being that I approach companies that have development teams of 5 or more and offer to "audit" their department. I would come in and look at the whole department with a view to improving productivity and eliminating recurring errors. I guess you could call it a consulting role, but I think it is more than that.

I would target .NET development teams only, with a view to widening the scope later.

Here is a list of areas that could be analyized:

  • Management of SourceControl.
  • Management of Defect reporting,
  • raising issues, describing defects and good practices.
  • Management of testing.
  • Management of Software builds.
  • Deployment strategies.
  • Training requirements (identify what staff could do with training).
  • Recruitment methodology (how to structure interviews and technical assessments to find the right candidate).
  • Software tools (identify what tools they could use to improve their productivity i.e. Resharper).
  • Harware configuration (does the hardware support the worker, dual monitors, fast CPU etc.)
  • Documentation (do they use UML or any design methodologies)
  • UI Design and UI standards.
  • Outsourcing pros and cons.
  • Coding standards (do they have any, what kind and do people follow it) - have a document
    ready that outlines standards. This will be given when the report is done.

The company would pick what they want me to look at and I would quote on that basis.

The end result would be a full analysis of the development team and their processes identifying what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong. This would be presented in a full colour bound report that details the work undertaken and the proposed solutions to fix the areas of concern. This might mean investing in new software, hardware, training or simply changing a particular process.

I'd just like to point out that I have 17 years commercial experience developing and leading software teams, so I am not concerned about whether I am able to do the job, just interested in what other areas I could target and any general feedback.

I wouldn't expect to be out finding business everyday, but if I could pick up a couple of clients a month it would be nice.

What do you think? Is this something that companies would pay for?

Software Development Consulting

asked Sep 2 '10 at 12:12
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Smart Company Software
1,190 points
Top agency to build award-winning mobile apps: Utility NYC
  • It'll be hard to convince companies to pay someone "else" to do this analysis. The list you provided is usually the responsibility of a software development manager/director. – Ricardo 8 years ago
  • Whilst I agree with you Ricardo, I don' think it is impossible. Is it any different when trying to sell anything? i.e. Trying to sell your software to a company that already has a software product is hard, but not impossible. Large and SME's pay consultants all the time. They buy in experience and this is what I am offering. I'm hoping that their are a pile of companies that have development teams that are under-performing, not productive or in a real mess and don't know how to sort it out. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago

2 Answers


1

You may be more successful with smaller developement teams. They may have a lead developer that has to double-up as the leader, but is more suited to programming and doesn't have the time to do some of the things you have to offer.

Also there are many companies that have hired junior programmers only and are starting to have growing pains. You could help them implement some best practices before they hire a full-time manager or one of the junior's gets up to speed.

It's probably the companies that have less IT expertise that will need your help. Any company that has the money to hire 5 developers has managed to get a manager. Like most of the other posts, I don't think they'll want your help.

answered Sep 3 '10 at 03:14
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Jeff O
6,169 points
  • Some valid points there Jeff. The proposal is to validate/audit their current processes and identify the holes. It's entirely feasible that a development manager has a desire to improve his department and enlist the help of a consultant. It would be an unbiased view of the department. I'm not saying it would be easy, I just believe that it is possible to sell a service like this. I've been a consultant for many years and I'm always surprised that companies hire consultants for something they could (possibly) do themselves, but they keep on paying good money for this experience. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
  • Sounds like you have enough experience to be able to work with software dev managers to identify where they need help. – Jeff O 8 years ago

0

Perhaps, but the real issue you may find is that while smaller companies may be your target, they may also be harder to convince of the errors of their ways. Having worked in both large and small companies, I found it interesting that the larger the company, the more likely they were to listen to recommendations from external consultants.

That being said, I do think there's a market if you can show such a company how you affect their bottom line. If you can demonstrate that implementing your suggestions will improve quality, reduce risk, enhance productivity, save them money in the long run, or any combination of those, then you'll have a fairly good chance of securing clients that way.

The problem is, how do you prove such claims (you'll need real case studies and past experience with similar clients) before you have your first clients?

answered Sep 2 '10 at 12:32
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Elie
4,692 points
  • Admittedly, getting the first few clients is going to require some work on my part and some faith in my abilities on their part. I haven’t thought too much about that at the minute, but an option is too offer the few clients an incentive i.e. If they don’t like my work then they don’t have to pay. I would leverage my previous experience as part of the sales process. But yes, you are right, it won’t be easy. But hey, every company started out with zero clients at one point ;-) I would also target bigger clients, but not initially. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
  • Also, as part of the sales process for the first few clients I would create a fictional report (I'd obviously tell the client it is fictional), which would give them a very good indication of what they will get. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago
  • Adrian, from my experience, fictional reports aren't worth the effort - most client's I've spoken to would rather see nothing. However, focusing on practical value (e.g. reduce risk by having proper source control) even without case studies can cinch a deal. Also, giving free should perhaps be tempered with a discount, so they see the dollar value of the advice, and perhaps offer a referral bonus system to get them to pass on your name. – Elie 8 years ago
  • Interesting points Elie. I guess I could have a sample report and focus on the tangible benefits. I also think the advice about referrals is good. – Smart Company Software 8 years ago

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