6 Things to Prepare for Before Meeting a Software Consultant

6 Things to Prepare for Before Meeting a Software Consultant

After trying a few months to manage on your own, your company has collectively decided that you need the services of a software consultant. This expert will oversee your digital records, manage your growing collection of documents, and even help with web content and software development. How do you prep for your software consultation?

Here are 6 things to have prepared ahead of your software consultant meeting:

  • Budget
  • Dossier on the consultant
  • Questions for the consultant
  • Loose outline of project scope
  • Information on your current hardware and software
  • Meeting agenda

By having these key documents and pieces of information at the ready, you’ll quickly be able to narrow down whether the software consultant you’re meeting with is the right choice for you. Keep reading for more actionable tips so you can nail this critical meeting. 

Meeting with a Software Consultant? Get Ready for the Appointment with These 6 Things

A Budget

According to FullStack Labs, for software development services, a software consultancy company with five to 10 employees may charge between $75 and $125 an hour. Mid-market consultancy firms with up to 100 consultants could charge $100 to $200 an hour and larger consultancy companies may have an hourly rate of $200 to $300. Freelancers may charge between $25 and $300 an hour depending on their level of expertise.

This information is good to know, as it will serve as the framework of your software consultancy budget. 

Your budget has to accommodate for more than an hourly rate, but potential extra fees the software consultant could charge. For example, if you need services after hours such as nights and weekends or holidays, the consultant may increase their rate. That can also be the case if your job is particularly complex.  

Besides how much money you want to spend on services, you also have to think of how large of a consultancy team you’ll need. If your company is mid-sized yourselves, then a business-class software consultancy firm is too large for you.

We recommend sitting down with the stakeholders at your company who will be part of the software consultation and figuring out what an appropriate budget looks like. Present a monetary range with some wiggle room. 

A Dossier on the Consultant

You did some research on the software consultant you’re going to meet with, as did a few other members in your department. Yet you don’t know how in-depth their research was versus yours. To keep everyone on the same page, it helps to have a printed dossier handy with all the pertinent information on the software consultant.

Such information that you want to include is where they’re located, how much experience they have, relevant software licenses, their list of services, and their fees if that information is available online. 

Hand out this dossier to your team ahead of the software consultation. Those in your department will appreciate the refresher, as they’ve surely filled their brains and schedules with other work since initially researching the software consultant. 

Don’t just look at the information in the dossier ahead of the meeting and then leave the document in the car or behind in your office. You want it in front of you during the meeting. If something the software consultant says doesn’t match up, or if you have additional questions about the information in the dossier, there’s no better time to ask than during this meeting.

You can even take notes on the consultant that you add to the dossier to make your informational record on them more complete. 

Questions for the Consultant

Remember, just because you’ve gotten to the stage where you’re meeting with a software consultant doesn’t mean you’re going to hire them. This is just part of the vetting process. 

Using the data you gleaned on the software consultant, sit down with your other stakeholders and come up with a comprehensive list of questions for the consultant. These questions should be designed to fill in any informational gaps you have after combing the consultant’s website, social media profiles, and relevant press.

Some of the questions you might ask include:

  • How long does it take you to complete a project like mine?
  • How much do you charge for your services?
  • What are your contracts like? Are they short-term contracts or multi-year agreements?
  • Are you personally involved in the development process? How involved?
  • How can we stay in touch while the consultancy work is ongoing?
  • Do I have to reach out to you or will you contact me?
  • How often should I expect to hear from you about my company’s software?
  • Do you work after hours or only standard nine-to-five hours (or thereabouts)?
  • Do you have relevant licenses or certifications? When will they expire?
  • Can you provide some references for me to call?

You don’t have to bring up every single one of these questions during the meeting unless you absolutely want to. In that case, we’d suggest having more than one meeting with the software consultant so you don’t have to rush through any questions.

A Loose Project Scope 

Your project is admittedly in the beginning stages, which is why you’re seeking the services of a software consultant in the first place. That said, the more definition your project scope has, the more swimmingly you can expect this meeting to go. 

You should at least know what you want, roughly how much it will cost, and what it will take to get there. You could even have a projected timeline.

Don’t be married to any parts of your project scope at this time. Once your software consultant sees what you have planned, they might tell you that you need to use avenue A or method D to get there rather than avenue B and method C like you had thought. 

Since they’re the professional here and have plenty of projects like yours under their belt, trust in their judgment and be willing to adjust the project scope. 

Do be aware that as the project scope evolves, so too might the bill. All along, you want to check in on how much the work will cost. This prevents you from getting in over your head financially. If the consultant’s work exceeds your budget or gets very close to doing so, you need to say something and likely back out of working with this consultant. 

The project scope may only come up for a short while during the first meeting. If that’s the case and you’re still considering this consultant by the time the meeting wraps, then set up a second meeting to discuss matters further. 

Company Hardware and Software Information

Even if you’re not a tech wizard yourself, you need to sound like one when sitting down with a software consultant. We recommend picking the brain of your IT person or team to ensure you have accurate hardware and software information for the devices your company uses every day. 

For example, if you use Windows computers, what is the latest operating system of the computers? What programs do your employees have installed on their computers? Are the programs the same from one computer to another or do certain departments use different software? 

When was the last time you’ve updated your hardware or software? What kinds of issues, if any, do you have with the hardware or software?

If you can’t answer these questions or questions like them, then your meeting with the software consultant will be overall fruitless. The consultant is going to need to know this information, so save them the time and yourself the headache by having all the data on your company computers ready to go before the meeting. 

A Meeting Agenda 

Your time is valuable and so is the software consultant’s. So nobody wastes their time during the meeting, create an agenda for the points you want to touch on. You can write this agenda in a word-processing document or even in the body of an email, then send it to the consultant. 

They may wish to add or remove a few points, so be ready to amend the meeting agenda until it’s mutually beneficial. Then print off a copy and bring it with you to the meeting. Do the same for any members of your team who are accompanying you. 

Do be forewarned that the meeting might not go exactly as planned, especially if you and the software consultant get into an in-depth discussion on any one topic. Still, an agenda is more useful than not since it gives you talking points to keep the meeting moving swiftly. 

Conclusion

If you’re readying for a software consultation in the Dallas area, make sure you have a meeting agenda, a budget, information on the consultant, and questions to ask them. An early project scope helps too, but this project outline is far from set in stone. 

The goal of the meeting is to vet the consultant. Thus, you want to repeat the above steps with several software consultants until you find the best fit for your company.

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