Outsourcing

Is independent consulting dead?

Chip Camden thinks the reports of independent consulting being dead are exaggerated, though he concedes that there are greater obstacles to getting work.

ZDNet blogger Jason Perlow recently posed that question based on the recent demise of the Independent Computer Consultants Association (ICCA), which cited declines in revenue for its members as a major cause of its closure. Perlow goes on to assert that independents are having a tougher time competing for jobs. I think the reports of our death are exaggerated, but we do face the following ongoing threats, which the economic distractions of our time have amplified:

  • Price. Perlow mentions "insanely low hourly or per diem rates" being offered for work these days. I've seen that, too, especially on sites that broker contracts. Now more than ever before inexpensive and relatively skilled labor from Russia, India, and anywhere else on the globe can easily bid against you for jobs at rates that you can't accept in order to keep your business afloat. You have to justify your price by offering a convincing value proposition; you need to provide something that the $15 an hour offshore developer can't do. Even that might not get you a specific job -- some gigs are only looking for the cheapest alternative -- but it will find a market that the low-cost alternatives can't touch.
  • Name. If a prospect is shopping for safety instead of price (astutely recognizing that risk has its own costs), then they're likely to favor a name they can know and think they can trust. If you're competing against IBM or Accenture for that business, you've got a big hill to climb, but there are at least three ways to succeed here: (1) build an even stronger reputation than the big names have in your consulting niche, (2) argue that you can be more lean, agile, and responsive while possessing equivalent skills, and (3) build long-term relationships that bring more to the table than just your technical skills.
  • Gatekeepers. More firms are using hiring agencies to find contract work, so the people asking the questions often possess a poor understanding of the client's needs. At best, they add a translation layer to the conversation that denies you the opportunity to engage the prospect and demonstrate your worth by asking the right questions. Everything except a laundry list of qualifications and your price tag gets filtered out in the translation. Face it: You're not going to get that work, and if you do, you'll regret it.

Despite these obstacles, I've experienced an uptick in demand over the last year, and I've raised my rates accordingly. But I was never a member of the ICCA, so my success or failure was never a factor in theirs. Perhaps the closure of the ICCA indicates a shakedown in the industry but not its demise. Maybe those membership dues weren't providing an equivalent value in return for a lot of members, and leaner times require trimming the fat from your business.

Now more than ever, independents need to concentrate on putting our money where it counts and providing exceptional value to clients in order to compete.

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About

Chip Camden has been programming since 1978, and he's still not done. An independent consultant since 1991, Chip specializes in software development tools, languages, and migration to new technology. Besides writing for TechRepublic's IT Consultant b...

132 comments
mckibbinusa.com
mckibbinusa.com

I have been consulting independently since 1998, and I would say that we are going through one of those periods when independents (including me) have to "reinvent" their practices. However, I am confident that independent consulting will survive -- independents are simply too agile to eliminate. More about my consulting practice at: http://www.mckibbinusa.com

Gabby22
Gabby22

There's been an increasing trend for all sorts of contractor to label themselves as a 'consultant'. I don't care, really, but it does make this sort of discussion more difficult. To me a true consultant is a specialist, as they are in hospitals and some big businesses, even though they're on the payroll. The others are contracted labour or casuals. I've seen the latter also described as "warm body hire" or "desk hire". They are workers who are doing similar jobs to others in the business using similar skills, but are contracted in for a number of reasons. Not a problem for me - they're needed, useful, often work harder than the payroll staff and sometimes are paid more, sometimes less. They may have special skills that are needed by the business but they're not necessarily 'specialists'. In my experience independent non-specialists are becoming less common. This makes them more expensive (or worse paid) but it reduces the other costs and risks of hiring and employing. This isn't the case with the specialist consultants who can afford their independence because their service is, well, special and because the level of trust in their competence and general judgment is high. They can also make a damn good living charging less than the big boys do - their overheads are much lower. Some charge more than the big boys, but they are *very* special (and few). The GFC has had an effect on these specialists simply because businesses are 'consolidating' rather than branching out in new directions. It depends what the consultants offer of course but generally businesses will use consultants more when they're expanding or diversifying. Of course the effect might be to worry some of these independents into joining the big boys, but I expect the effect to be transitory.

AlexNagy
AlexNagy

It's not just software consultancy that is seeing its share of challenges. It seems to me the challenges for web design consultants are greater and greater, especially if you don't already know ALL the technologies like Java, PHP, My or PostgreSQL, Perl (for CGI and other uses), Javascript, the latest (X)HTML and CSS as well as possibly even Flash. My experiences in trying to learn any of those on my own, with just the resources on the web or even out of date texts, have been met with mixed success. As with most people, guided instruction (via a good book or even better instructional course) is almost a must. I know what I know of Javascript, (X)HTML and CSS just out of sheer determination and that alone will not land you the gig that you need to be able to further an education. There's also the fact that it's been my experience, in looking at requirements for any sort of job whether you be a consultant or not, that if you don't have a BS in some related field, it doesn't matter how much practical, real world experience you have. I also loathe companies that require you to use specific, very expensive (and rather cruddy) authoring tools (Dreamweaver, CS, etc.) when you can already do what they want without the expense.

lexius011
lexius011

I don't think independent consulting is dead at all. In fact demand for IT expertise has never been higher. I think that ICCA did not adapt to new media. That, coupled with membership costs, were the main reasons for its demise. TFCN has a lot of independent consultants as members and its membership has been growing leaps and bounds. TFCN is the largest professional network for Government contractors. Look us up at http://www.tfcn.us You can also follow us on Twitter or join our groups on LinkedIn and Facebook.

gary
gary

IT as a profession is a mess and it is going to stay a mess until this profession (i.e., practitioners and clients) requires licensing. Right now, clients turn to IT professionals because they have a real problem, not a legal obligation.

sean
sean

Firstly, I am from South Africa. Our country fits comfortably into Texas and even looks similar. We have all of the problems that the Americans have and are regarded highly within the IT industry internationally and are well positioned to take the lion's share of work that gets done in Southern Africa. We do not complain that the Indians, Americans, Russians, etc are all competing with us for the same jobs, we simply compete. We know that there are opportunies in America, but it is irritating to realize that Americans tend to think that the world of opportunity exist between the west and east coast of their single continent. The skills required to develop a basic application can be taught to a 16 year old kid and one can teach the networking fundamentals required by a CCENT to a high school student easily. These are not skills to be put on a pedastal for. If you want to compete in an ever changing world then you need to start thinking about where the markets are that can be mined lucratively and move to those markets efficiently. Moving does not imply a physical relocation, but with tools like VoIP, FRING, WebEX, and a host of other collaborative tools for an on-line presence you can easily tap into market opportunities in Ghana, Zimbabwe, Dubai, Mumbai, Brazil, Houston and Alaska. The world is our oyster and the efficient, well trained consultant is worth his consulting fee. Once we start competing on an international platform we as consultants will be able to see our labour rates become a commodity that can be traded and can start setting standards and pricing internationally. Complaining about it is silly. It reflects a lack of business acumen. Our business is to provide solutions to our clients at the lowest possible cost to help them maximise their profits. We will buy our raw materials at the lowest possible delivered cost and sell the product/service at the highest ACCEPTABLE profit. If we rape our markets then our companies will pay for those sins, so the idea is to look carefully at triple-bottom line reporting and know that our communities benefit holistically over the long term as a result of our presence. We cannot demand that governments fight our market battles for us and then complain when our competitors surpass us in quality and cost of delivery. The world awaits the efficient, confident and knowledgeable consultant - and pays them well. Our developing nations can help to deliver solutions cheaply so that we can deliver far more intricate and well thought through products. I had the fantastic opportunity a few years ago to meet the founder and one of the original developers of a well known collaboration solution in Florida (USA). I am not surprised that the support for this product has eventually been outsourced off-shore. If they did not outsource it like that then their product would never have gained the ground it has and would not have been as well positioned as it is today in the market - internationally. If one was to take cognisance of the fact that some Americans are unhappy about the fact that someone from India is very efficiently supporting and marketing this solution, then it would be interesting to note that the owners and developers of the product would not have been able to benefit from the use of the technology if it had been retained at an exorbitantly high international price and kept within the boundaries of the USA. Outsourcing work to independent consultants affects independent consultants everywhere in the world. We are all required to step up to the plate and compete against each other on pricing, quality, expertise and creativity. Sometimes we win, sometimes we lose, but as long as each loss is a lesson that helps us to refine our market offering we have always progressed. The independent consultant that has chosen to sit down and look for protection from progress is dead, the independent consultant that rises to the challenge of an ever expanding market - that understands that re-certification is part of the job, that is aware of the need to lower pricing while increasing volume, that consultant is thriving.

wfreeman
wfreeman

I'd like to offer a perspective as not only a fairly long-term member of the ICCA (about 10 years) but also a former president of the Silicon Valley Chapter for several years in the mid-90s. When I joined the San Francisco chapter in 1990, the profession was going through a period every much as difficult as the one we are going through now. The membership of that chapter was around 120 and was not the largest chapter at that time. Meetings were well-attended. The membership appeared to be mostly mainframe programmers accustomed to 40 hours of quite high rates (especially for the time) per week for years on end with the same empl-, er, client. Recent midnight-passed legislation was in the process of putting an end to that, and the 1990-92 recession really put a fork in it. I knew members of the SF ICCA Chapter who were homeless during that recession. Membership levels in the ICCA never again reached those levels and began a slow decline until the recent announcement of its final demise. There were several factors contributing to the decline, which I observed and unsucessfully tried to mitigate while I was president of the SV Chapter: 1. When the 40-hour/week mainframe consultant went virtually extinct, s/he was replaced by pretty much what we have now: Consultants in a wide variety of specialties. The homogeneity had disappeared, and it became as difficult for two consultants to converse about what they did at an ICCA meeting as it was for them to do the same to non-technical family members over the dinner table. At the same time, it was difficult for those of us arranging meeting programs to come up with presenters that would interest enough of the membership at once to ensure a well-attended meeting. 2. Those of us remaining in the profession were not used to 40-hour weeks, were perpetually scrambling for new business and it was difficult to find the time to attend meetings, especially when attending the meeting might require additional commute time. 3. Although I left the ICCA before the rise of social media, the intenet had already started the decentralization of information sources, reducing the need and desire for group meetings. 4. The vagaries of health insurance started making it less advantageous to obtain coverage through such groups than to find individual or business coverage on your own. I didn't list outsourcing, LinkedIn, Facebook and whatever else because they came after my time in the ICCA but I can only believe that they were just more nails in the coffin. The officers and directors of the ICCA worked tirelessly to keep the organization relevant but obviously the tide was too strong. My point of all this is that there have been other times just as dark as the one we're in for IT consultants. It sure has been a bleak one for me, as was the one in the early 90's. But we sure have better prospects than any recently laid-off IT employees do.

Professor8
Professor8

Hopefully, we can get rid of all forms of body shopping.

Anita Y. Mathis
Anita Y. Mathis

I beleive the individual will need to market themselves for work through other channels, such as a hiring agency. But then, you're just like everyone else. The consultancy is a business and i believe that's not going anywhere. Now, consultancies benefit from seeking projects from sites where they are posted so they can make a bid.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Even as little as five years ago, an IT consultant was an outside expert called in to solve problems, or to create value for a business who wanted to find an edge over the competition. As the holder of knowledge and skills few others possessed, we were respected, and clients listened. This is no longer true. IT has become a commodity: widely available, aggressively priced, and valued as much as a business values its janitorial staff or the company that handles its payroll. IT is simply another necessary cost which provides no significant business benefit other than to keep the status quo in place. A good friend of mine, who provides technology policy advice to the state of Virginia, put it this way: when there is a job that your business needs done in a way that no one else is doing, you want to hire the best you can find and make sure you keep them. When that job is something every business needs to have done, in pretty much the same way, it makes sense to outsource it at the lowest cost possible. IT is just overhead, like janitorial service, or building maintenance, and it is put in the same category in the business' ledger. There is nothing here to "ride out". IT has become a commodity, as valuable and respected and as easily replaced as light bulbs and batteries. We had a good run while it lasted, but technology and society have moved on. You might as well try to open a boutique that sells paper towels.

pwhite
pwhite

No! It is only dead if you don't maintain current technical skills at any level or responsibility. Also, large companies are downsizing the number of venders so find out who is your best gate keeper who knows the needs unless you have an inside sponsor. The CIOs also has a tight budget so rates, like everything else are affected for each of us. Rates are also market driven and normally set. As long as I was a member of ICCA, I did not see jobs/contracts marketed as an organization but more for them to exchange ideas, how to set up your business and speakers about multiple topics. Going forward, flexible staffing for specific projects are growing faster than perm solutions. You will see more and more contractors than additional perm hires. So I see it growing vs being dead. Paula P White, pwhite@datamasters.com

aharper
aharper

There is a cycle to things. I have been an independent consultant since 1988, and there are natural cycles of feast and famine. There are also unnatural ones where a crisis is perceived and our clients don't call us, don't change the oil in their car, and go to Walmart and buy up all the bottled water and D-cell batteries, never mind they don't have anything that takes D-cells. After they are done panicking, we usually get a call and make even more because they let things go. Any independent who doesn't have a "Rainy Day Fund" for just such an occasion will fail, it's just a matter of time. I was an independent just like 46 others in my metro area in 2001.Spetember 11th rolled around and by the time the dust settled in March, there were 3 of us left. We has all grown and absorbed each other's employees, client base and inventory. The players didn't really change, just the way we played the game.

cloudnavigator
cloudnavigator

What would qualify for an economic distraction of our time? Insurmountable public and private debt? Trillions in bad assets hidden and festering on the balance sheets of the money center banks? Billions in commercial real estate loans coming due which are on the books of thousands of small regional banks? Millions more home foreclosures coming as Alt-A and ARMs reset this year? U3 unemployment at 11 percent (watch for February 2010 numbers) and U6 unemployment at over 17 percent? No one and no country willing to buy trillions in sovereign debt that needs to be rolled over this year? 500 banks on the FDIC watch list that should already be closed with more to come in 2010? Financial capitalism committed suicide 2008. Economic growth is grinding to a halt due capital scarcity and declining net energy due to peak-oil. Looks to me more like the end of the world as we know it is unfolding in real time. In the short term I expect to see SMBs dump their computer rooms and data centers and move into the cloud. All app development will be done in the cloud and customers will go where the apps are. It's the apps stupid...to paraphrase an old political slogan from the 1992 Clinton campaign. Private consultants need to re-tool and align their skills in vital niches and hope their customers can manage to stay in business. The next 10 years are going to be rough and then it could very easily get worse. Tim Wessels

thargrav
thargrav

I?ve been an independent consultant for 10 years and except for a period about 6 years ago, I?ve always had plenty of work and the work has been at a good price. I don?t see any changes going into the future. But I?ve had quite a few friends try & fail ? they all made one or more of the following mistakes. Working only 9 ? 5 I?ll tell you right up front that if you are only willing to work 9 ? 5, you will be limiting your peak billable hours to 40 but your actual billable will be below 20. If you are a serious consultant, you apply what it takes and this translates into some 80 hour weeks. Averaging Down Averaging down means filling hours with cheaper consultant work because you have the time. The problem is ? once you sign up to a lower rate with a client, you are stuck with the lower rate with that client. If you are hungry, go deliver pizzas. Are the wages lower? Sure, but the difference is ? you can scale back your delivery hours as soon as paying work comes in ? that day if necessary. I met with one potential client a few years ago. I was recommended to them and they wanted me to do the job. I gave them a ball park figure and they stated that I was way too high and they were expecting an hourly cost in the $12.00 range. I told them to hire a college kid and they responded with ?but we want you for the job?. I walked away from that one and don?t know who they hired. Broker Sites Broker sites are evil. Why? More often than not, an experienced developer working at a higher rate will deliver a more stable & less costly software solution. But with broker sites, the customer on the other end sees only price and not total cost and always goes cheap. I tried broker sites and got tired of losing jobs to College kids willing to work for $12.00 / hour.

BillDodd
BillDodd

and don't expect nowadays to get rich:- 1. Single people can certainly offer a companies a focused resource. However this is quite rare now. I find that offering a DP manager type resource as a support / replacement / temporary resource for newly departmentalised companies seems to get results. 2. Vertical Market Software / expertise will be always be needed by entreprenunial companies / owners to supply a unique USP within their own market. Special people only may apply..... I recommend that you get employed and make some personal security... Or alternativly form a co-operative with local peers.

osgcurt
osgcurt

Firms from India are all looking for American consultants to work in America. Wonder why?

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Yes, there is a big difference between the 'individually wrapped lunchmeat' contractor and the consultant that merits the name. While both flavors might get scared into employment now, the independent contractor with no special expertise will find themselves in more direct competition with former employees, while true specialist may be able to make the point that they'll get the job done right and therefore save money over using those former employees.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I will have to admit, gabby. Be advised that some here follow this with eyelids screwed down -- screwed way down, in my case.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Yes, the commoditization is even more severe for web development. People expect even lower prices and quicker turn-around, even though a fairly simple web page can often take hours to make compatible with all browsers and screen resolutions. The thing is, there's plenty of low-cost competition for that work.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Yes, IT is more in demand than ever before. However, this in itself is not a useful metric. According to the Bureau of labor Statistics, six of the top seven fastest-growing occupations for the next decade are low-skill, low-wage jobs.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

Licensing serves exactly one primary purpose: to artificially restrict the supply of a service so that the cost can be made artificially high. (A secondary purpose is to provide income for the licensing agency.) One may argue that licensing is for the benefit of consumers, to keep professionals honest, and so on. That's hogwash, plain and simple. I am not happy about IT becoming a commodity, but I am not about to condone creating artificial obstacles in front of people who want to earn an honest living, just to prop up an industry and protect it from obsolescence. We have too much of that sort of jiggery-pokery in this country already.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

... because we require drivers to be licensed. Licensing won't help anything.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

Why don't I just offer more clihce's? Only the strong survive Make it or break it As you can see, I couldn't say it any better than you already have. It is teh same in any other industry and I have said it here for years, that heyday of a quick cert leading to easy money is over. It doesn't happen in any other industry/field of knowledge, why would IT be unique when it is so saturated?

santeewelding
santeewelding

Or anyone, expected such a thorough-going reply as yours. He may. But I doubt it. For my part, little as it is, I thank you.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Re: your last sentence, "we have better prospects than any recently laid-off IT employees do" -- yes, precisely because we're easier to fire. Thus, a lower barrier to entry for being hired. Not to mention all the benefits the client doesn't have to pay for us. And if the erstwhile employee wants to become a freelancer, we've got more experience in that realm. The down economy can be a win for consultants, if we play it right.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I don't see how. As an earlier poster commented, a lot of IT has become commoditized. That doesn't require an expert. What we need to concentrate on is finding the remaining niches where an expert is needed.

biancaluna
biancaluna

I have been inundated with work in the past few years, granted, Australia has been somewhat spared the major recession. Altough the merger of EDS and HP has retrenched scores of people here as it changed to a tin company (by the way, we are not all in America). I work for an Agency now, and the reason for that is very simple - it provides me with an entry point in clients who only deal with Agencies, I am still on the fence if the days of the independants are numbered but I had to make some choices. My Agency is a small niche player, but if you wish to work for Govt or some of the private players, who often times were burnt by the Accentures of this world, one must be with an approved Agency. I get asked for by name, and that is due to my relationships that I have built over many years. So it is still a form of consultancy, but I disagree that we are then like everybody else. Some clients do not deal with independents, an agency is just another business model. I can see IT changing, as mentioned, tin companies who do not understand the services mentality at all but have a hardware mindset, with off shoring of just about everything that even remotely looks like a service. I guess for me the choice is change or perish, I agree with the one poster who stated that it is about IT professionals, my area is not apps but SOA, business processses and implementation of service management frameworks. Principles applicable to non IT areas. I can see convergence everywhere, we have seen that in the comms space (voice and data) where the old telco staff could easily transition to encompass data but the other way around was hard. I can see more and more convergence in the IT space as well - to information management frameworks, portals,and the like integrating seamlessly with business processes. But that might mean that some of the projects that consultancies can bid on are changing such that the independents can't "hack" it alone. To be independent is to have to spend a lot of time on tax and business statements, payments of incredible insurance premiums, self insurance for super (pension) with costs, workcover costs, I just could not deal with it anymore, running myself Inc took time away from development, keeping up to date and also from the things I really want to do in life.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I don't find these sites very helpful -- they're more geared towards the commoditized IT services, and there are plenty of college kids and offshore techs willing to take those on the cheap.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

A lot of IT has become commoditized, especially telephone support and application development. But there are still pockets of expertise that require the right person. That's where we can still find and capitalize on niches.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Yes, I have seen some of my clients increase my contributions precisely in order to save money, despite my high fees. They know they'll get what they want, and they're only committed for that job (as opposed to a new hire).

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Y2K was nothing but added revenue, no emergency. The dot-com bust eliminated a few clients, but made the others willing to invest more in putting real meat into their products. 9/11 only meant that my criminal justice client received more funding. There's always a way to land on your feet. You just have to find the opportunities and act on them.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

But there are major shakeups going on or about to happen. We need to keep a keen lookout for the opportunities that will afford, especially gaining skills that are emerging in high demand , such as cloud computing as you mentioned.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Especially the willingness to fill in with lower rate work. That often leads to doing only lower rate work, because you suddenly have no time for the good stuff, or even looking for it.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Some of us prefer the freedom of independence over that security. As long as I can survive at it, I'll stay independent.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I've been approached by some of them myself, but my price tag always sends them screaming away. Obviously, it's easier to coordinate people who are closer to the time zone of the project. I wonder how many Americans the Indian firms have actually recruited?

Englebert
Englebert

There are some technicalities involved here. Few IT people use the term ' contractor ', because anybody who enters into a contract is a contractor...could be a painter, could be an IT consultant. There is the view that a consultant is hired for his soft skills, advice, should we do this or that?, are we on the right track with this project...etc Whereas a 'contractor' used to be one who is adept at hard skills. We need an Assembler programmer who is also an expert in Java.... Because of the confusion in many shops as to the English, legal and IT definitions of each, just call yourself an IT Consultant.

AlexNagy
AlexNagy

The thing is, there's plenty of low-cost competition for that work. I know, and the problem is, it's hard to find out what the competition is charging if they don't publicly post their prices. It's also hard to beat "Well, my <insert-relative-here> can do it for free." (I've actually encountered that so many times it's disgusting). Extreme amount of low-cost competition coupled with the high-cost of learning new tools (mostly found within the cost of said tools) and it's almost a losing situation. Here's hoping IT Consulting doesn't get that bad.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

The higher demand is driving a trend towards commoditization, with ultra-low-cost providers seizing their opportunity.

herlizness
herlizness

> I've have to agree with you here; I'm really not at all sure what the future holds for independents but I'm not sure the death of ICCA is a signal event one way or the other. I had the dubious pleasure of attending meetings from time to time over the years with ICCA reps present to voice their opinions on matters and found them to be distinctly and uniquely abrasive and arrogant human beings. From my perspective they made the membership look like a herd of sandbagging, obstructionist, bureaucratic creeps no sane person would want working in their organization. While I'm sure that was not true of many ICCA members, I still declined the invitation to be a dues-paying member with the attendant privilege of walking the ICAA walk instead of the client corporation walk. They both stink. Independent means independent and I don't think ICCA stood for it. Not sorry to see this anachronistic organization breath its last breath.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

If anything Licensing will make matters worse as those who are not very good will be licensed and will be considered as Representative of all those in the industry. U remember a while ago here there was a push to license Sewing Machine Mechanic a ridiculous idea as I don't normally fix those things but I was told that they couldn't sell me any Parts till I was either registered or I had to buy from a Registered Repairer. The funny thing was that the list of those Registered Repairers I was given was full of those that I had trained. :^0 So I just went to the Owner of the place and bought what I needed. I had trained him as well. And the bits that I wanted where for my personal Machine well the wifes at least. ;) Col

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Especially about trying to hide behind governmental protection. That is a strategy for failure. The barriers to globalization have fallen, and will only continue to fall, even if governments try to prevent it.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

I used to just call myself a freelance software developer, but I've switched to the term consultant to imply that I bring more to the table than just a hired keyboard.

bblackmoor
bblackmoor

"It's also hard to beat "Well, my can do it for free." (I've actually encountered that so many times it's disgusting)." This should be a clue to you.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

In order to legally install a security system in Canada (prewired into the home)you have to have a security license. In order to install anything BUT low voltage wiring (no 120V runs) you also need a license and it has to pass inspection. In both of these trades, it is obvious WHY you would need a license, due to fire hazards and safety reasons. However, there are countless companies out there that install other parts of the systems, such as network cable runs etc. into new home construction, that are also installing the runs for 120V wiring and security systems. Of course from the home owner's perspective, it is easier and MUCH cheaper to get one company to install all wiring runs during construction than to have separate companies come in at different times and have to fudge their wiring in with others. I remember when network runs cost $90 per run, now they are competing at $17 per run, less than 8 years later. Network specialists are now competing with central vacuum installers that face no extra cost for pullign two wires insteead of one. What is happening is unlicensed companies are just 'friends' with other contractors who ARE licensed that simply sign off on their work, even though often installed by people with absolutely NO knowledge of the safety standards, intereference from cross feeds etc. As a result, those WITH licenses are being forced to reduce pricing to remain competitive and get the work from others who low ball it as an add-on (they are already running the wires for home theatre systems and intercoms etc. what's another cable?) So even those with licences don't have any more credibility and usually only get called in to fix mistakes, which takes more time as they need to undo everything and redo it, at an affordable cost. For some people to think that the exact same thing wouldn't or doesn't happen in the IT world is simply naiive, they have no idea of the business side of their industry. I find many people are just looking for answers that they think will bring their trade greater paychecks, yet are delusional in thinking so. License or not, people are still forced to offer more for less and they still don't have greater credibility. The good companies end up doing more work for less money in the end and nobody is ahead of the game. Licenses, H1B's, unions etc do not solve these problems, people are just looking for excuses and someone else to point the finger at. They are upset that they don't earn the fat IT paychecks they feel they 'deserve' for passing one of the most common tests known to man, next to a drivers exam(the MCSE). Same old story, over and ovr again. It's just the blame game that the weak use as an excuse.

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

I've seen outsourced operatons for a lot longer than IT or the Internet has even been in the picture, especially sales and services operations, print publishing and adverising. Union trades have been outsourced as long as I've been alive. Maybe it took longer in the US but in Euope and Canada it's been a competitive reality for many decades. When I took my machining apprentcehsip, I worked on parts made for US skyscrapers all over America too that COULD have been made in the US but were outsourced, that was the early 80's. It is just that IT is focused on it as if it hasn't been a fact of business all along. Just look at how many US cars are and have been made in Canada, Mexico and Brazil for ages and then sent to the US for sale. One of my first sales jobs was for a US company, seeking US market development and advertising from a Canadian company. I have worked for several companies (US owned) and travelled the US selling their products. Your dollar is stronger than ours, US companies can pay us the same wage in CAD and spend less in actual USD than hiring locally. Instead of paying a US worker $18/hr plus comission, they can pay $12/hr US to a Canadian which works out to the same money here. Even after travel expenses they are saving money. Canadians like being paid in USD, the exchange works for both the worker and the US company. I have actually requested pay in USD when working for US companies. People here brag about it even, "Hey, I just got a Californian sales contract and it pays in US dollars!"

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

There was a mass union uproar in BC over the last few years from a local shipyard who lost a ferry contract because someone in Germany offered a better deal and those ferries were built in Germany instead of a local yard that has had the contract for years. The uproar stopped nothing, the ferry company still spent over 300 million that the local shipyard had always counted on. A great deal of American farming has been outsourced to Canada due to lower costs and greater production. As for business, that is easily outsourced. I have handled market and business development contracts for more than one American company that could have just as easily used a local rep. I have opened and set up Canadian offices for American companies and sold into their US market at a lower operational cost that they could get in the US. All of the positions you mentioned can and ARE outsourced quite often.

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

More services are being globalized all the time. But IT is ahead of most others.

sean
sean

What about CNC driven applications that let you design a door with engravings of your own family portrait across the internet and have it delivered to you? What about the fact that there are many innovative farming solutions that for fractal ownership. You buy a lamb and let the farmer rear it, you pay a small fee and collect the profits from the sale of the produce later? What about remote security systems that allow a person in South Africa to monitor forest fires in Canada and dispatch fire fighters in the event of a fire? What about fridges, washing machinesm photocopiers that have an IP address and allow for remote diagnosis and remote repair? If you really want to you can outsource anything really - the only real question has to do with what is your core business and what is strategically correct to retain in-house and what is more efficiently done through an external party.

Englebert
Englebert

IT is different in that it can be outsourced, whereas trades, business, farming, sales, etc cannot

Oz_Media
Oz_Media

As I keep saying, broken record syndrome here, in trades a diploma doesn't gurantees anything anymore, in business a degree doesn't gurantee anything anymore, in argiculture a farm doesn't make you a farmer and in IT a degree isn't a free pass to success. IT is an imature industry that is just maturing and catchign up with all others, paper means nothing, you still have to work to build a career and offer a value added proposition that separates you from others and creates value for an employer.