What is software consulting? A comprehensive guide
Updated 16 May 2023
Perhaps one of the most lucrative sectors to work in, tech roles are highly in-demand. One such role is software consulting, which may be an ideal career choice if you're interested in entering the IT field. If you're a software consultant or thinking about entering the field, you may want to learn more about what the role entails and the important skills they need. In this article, we explain what a software consultant does, including what skills, education and training software consultants need, how to become one and salary prospects.
What is software consulting?
A software consultant is an IT advisor who companies hire to offer advice on the implementation of software systems that help solve a company's issues. These professionals have extensive knowledge of software programmes, which they use to help manage a company's technological content.
Software consultants typically come from an information technology background. A successful software consultant can make a company much more efficient for its employees and customers. This helps the company protect their investments.
Related: What is an IT Consultant?
What does a software consultant do?
A software consultant may perform any of the following tasks on a day-to-day basis as they meet with clients:
Advise businesses on software programme use
As the name suggests, the main role of these individuals is to consult and offer expert advice. Companies pay them to offer their expertise, which includes suggesting appropriate software products for a business. A software consultant looks at a business, identifies pain points and offers suggestions on software choices that enable a company to operate more efficiently. Along with advising new software for the company, these professionals may also analyse the reliability of current software and replace software that isn't optimally performing.
Implement software tools
Along with advising software programmes, consultants may also demonstrate software use and help get systems up and running once a company makes a software purchase. Although they usually work outside the software companies, consultants are often familiar with most systems and can explain how to use them to a client. A thorough understanding of the relevant software can help in providing skilled and expert service as a software consultant.
Monitor software for updates and security
Consultants may take on the role of risk manager, checking software systems to ensure they are functioning correctly for maximum efficiency. They may also assess the security protection covering the software. This is to maintain protection from external threats like viruses, hackers and spyware.
Evaluate and execute website revisions
Consultants can also evaluate ways to optimise a company website using software systems. They can offer ideas to better utilise software systems. A software consultant's recommended revisions can help engage customers through e-commerce, interactive features and personalised customer experiences.
Customise software systems
A consultant provides a thorough evaluation of a company's current business operations by identifying pain points that need improving. Consultants help decision-makers choose software packages that best benefit the needs of a company. One way that they can reach these benefits is by tailoring software systems to fit the specific company and industry.
Use feedback to evaluate the technological needs of a company
After observing a client's software use, these IT professionals take time to evaluate how they can best advise a company on utilising current and future software systems. They may speak to superiors from various departments to get company feedback and identify what tools need adjusting in the current system. Speaking to multiple departments and accumulating feedback allows a consultant to make informed decisions on how to help a company.
Salary of a software consultant
The average salary for a software consultant is £35,832 per year. Software consultants who work for a consulting firm earn consistent pay. Salary amounts for freelance consultants can differ based on the amount of contract work they earn. Location and company can also affect the salary of a software consultant.
Skills necessary in software consultancy
To be a successful software consultant, an individual needs to be technically skilled. They also often possess certain communication and interpersonal skills. A highly qualified software consultant may hold the following skills:
A software consultant's primary duty is often to analyse detailed business requirements so they can provide recommendations for software developments. This means that it is advantageous to possess the ability to thoroughly evaluate a company's needs and weaknesses. The ability to analyse a client's current tech plans determines how they choose software to improve business operations.
The IT industry is rapidly growing and changing, meaning that software consultants are often required remain up to date with software updates. They also often tailor software solutions to match a client's needs. Adaptability can help in preparing a software consultant for the complex and often unpredictable nature of the job.
Familiarity with computer languages
Writing code isn't always a large part of software consulting. However, familiarity with coding systems such as Java or HTML can be a useful skill to fully understand software systems. Consider taking a training course in basic coding to gain some knowledge of computer languages.
Related: IT skills: definitions and examples
A job in the IT industry is often challenging due to the nature of the industry. A software consultant solves any arising problems like software bugs, security weaknesses and system upgrades. Consultants often provide practical solutions for their clients as part of their services and contractual duty.
Software consultants may spend time locating potential leads by networking. Knowing how to network to generate business can make it easier to find new clients. This is a particularly useful skill for freelance software consultants.
Related: Networking tips for job seekers
Software consults may negotiate the terms of a software package for their clients. The role also requires the ability to confidently negotiate contractual terms. The ability to professionally negotiate is particularly important if someone is working as a freelancer.
Due to often being familiar with the software that they recommend, consultants can act as coaches in advising clients how to use the software. They offer feedback for improvement, encourage the good work they see, challenge management to devise ways. This helps in maximising the financial and employee productivity of a business.
Public speaking and presentation abilities
In being the individual who has the expert knowledge, software consultants often present this expertise to company leadership. Software consultants need confidence and excellent verbal communication skills, such as speaking articulately. They can also simplify complex topics to help with understanding.
How to become a software consultant
As companies widely use software consultancy to help improve business operations, professionals who can successfully provide this service are in demand. If you are interested in the IT sector and think you may want to pursue this role, here are some steps that may help secure a job in this role:
1. Obtain a degree
Software consulting requires a thorough knowledge of software designs and functions. You also need a grasp of computer languages used to code and manipulate software. Although some software consultants begin with only A-Levels and from personal study, most companies are likely to prefer a candidate with a degree. Pursuing a bachelor's degree may equip you with practical expertise and a sufficiently high level of technical experience. Degrees in computer technology-related programmes can be relevant to a career as a software consultant, such as Information Technology, Software Engineering and Computer Science.
2. Gain experience in information technology
The next important step in securing a job in software consulting is getting experience working in a software-related job. You may consider applying for entry-level jobs in this field as soon as you graduate. Practical experience can help you build on the wide range of skills practised in this role. By getting experience in the field and seeing the industry in action, you can advance your learning of how systems function. If you are still at university, it also may be possible to gain experience by applying for summer internships or placement.
3. Learn on the job at a software consulting firm
Once you have gained experience working with computer software in some capacity, apply for a role in a software consulting firm. After securing a job, you can deepen your understanding of software consulting as you train on the job. You may consider seeking opportunities to learn from senior employees so you can learn from their analysis, technical skills and negotiation techniques.
4. Consider working as a freelance software consultant
When you're ready to use the expertise that you have gained during your education and work experience, it's time to decide how you want to advance your career. This includes considering if you want to work for a consulting firm or if you would rather work for yourself. Freelancing software consultants find their clients and set up contracts to consult on a monthly, annual or ongoing basis. If you decide to work as a freelancer, you can manage your finances and marketing. For example, you may want to set up a website to advertise your services.
Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at the time of writing. Salaries may vary depending on the hiring organisation and a candidate's experience, academic background and location.
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