As an HR Manager, every year I have the opportunity to meet future graduates. When the topic of consulting comes on the table, it often appears that their opinion is very clear-cut: "I want" or "I don't want" to work in an (IT) consulting firm.
Before listing the advantages and disadvantages of working in a consulting company, it is important to remember that these are all different, not only in terms of services, but also in terms of organisation. Many preconceived ideas circulate on this regard, but most of them come from the largest companies in the sector. It is therefore necessary to bring nuance to this debate.
CONSULTING IS NOT « BODY SHOPPING »
It is common to hear that when working in an IT consultancy company, the consultant will be sent to work at the client’s office for the duration of the project. This method is defined as « body shopping ».
While many consulting companies operate in this way, not all do. For example, all of B12 Consulting's consultants work "in house", i.e. from our own offices. Despite what one could think, this does not stop us from communicating with our clients. We intentionally create a communication dynamic by scheduling remote or on-site weekly meetings to discuss the progress of the project.
Working in-house on our projects have many advantages not only for the client but also for the team members. Since you always work from the company’s offices, you have no uncertainty about the location of your future projects. It also fosters team spirit and learning thanks to the multiple information and knowledge sharing that are not limited to the project consultants are working on.
CONSULTING, ONE SERVICE AMONG OTHERS
The services offered by IT consulting companies are not always limited to « pure » consulting. In some companies, the consulting part is the preliminary step to the development of a much larger project. For example, at B12, after analysing our client's needs, we go further by developing the necessary applications or AI algorithms and implement them for the client.
So do not let yourself be misled by the label « consulting »; other activities are sometimes included in the projects depending on the services offered by the company.
TOP 5 OF ADVANTAGES OF WORKING AS A CONSULTANT
- No two days are alike: each project is unique and requires special attention. You will be confronted with different types of clients, industries or challenges. At B12, we do not restrict ourselves to one sector and our projects can last only a few months or continue on a much larger scale! Our consultants generally work on at least two projects during the same week which allows them to vary their work content. If you are not a routine lover, consulting is surely made for you.
- You will learn several technologies, but not only: your role is to recommend the best functional and technical choice to the client. This implies being curious and ready to learn different up-to-date technologies if needed for the project. You will also be expected to develop softer skills in project management, communication or business understanding, to become an all-round consultant.
- If they knew, they wouldn't need you: in consulting, you are constantly exposed to challenges, both technical and business-based. Clients come to you because they are faced with a situation for which they cannot find a solution. Exciting, isn’t it?
- Your career development is faster and more diversified: by facing and talking to clients everyday, you are led to take on responsibilities more quickly. You can also step into different career paths: for instance at B12, we propose a career path in management (Project Manager) or in technical expertise (Technical Lead) based on your affinities and skills.
- You are sure to have an impact: clients do not call on consulting services for « nothing »: they have a concrete problem and are looking for solutions. This means that what you do is useful but more importantly that your work makes a difference! At B12, we also try to work on projects with high added value for the society: developing a tool for doctors, helping smokers quit smoking or improve public transports’ efficiency.
TOP 3 OF DISADVANTAGES OF WORKING AS A CONSULTANT
- Keeping up the pace is not easy everyday: changing projects and sectors often, quickly learning a new technology, meeting client deadlines and budgets, collaborating with different types of people,… We can agree that the pace can be quite frantic in the consulting world. It is therefore essential to be well organised, manage stress and, above all, be curious!
- You won’t always be working on your favorite technology: you need to stay flexible and open-minded since the goal is to advise and develop the best solution for our clients. It means that, even if you are an expert in one technology, you may sometimes be required to work on other ones. However nothing is impossible: you will need to communicate explicitly your aspirations and expectations with your managers. That way, you might get the chance to work on projects that are conducted in the technology you want to deepen.
- In « body shopping » companies, it is harder to settle: you change environments, cultures and teams regularly. You may not be sure where your next assignment will be and how much time you will spend commuting from home. All of these elements can contribute to a feeling of instability. That is why (and for other good reasons) at B12 we have chosen not to do « body shopping » as explained above.
There are many advantages to working at a consulting companies, the most important being the variety of topics, the career evolution, the challenge and the impact! Before signing up in a consulting company, make sure you understand what the daily life of their consultants looks like because not all these companies offer the same services or attention to work-life balance.
At B12 Consulting, all our consultants work from our offices in Louvain-la-Neuve (Belgium). Depending on their seniority and experience, they contribute to the business analysis of our clients and suggest solutions adapted to their needs. They also take care of the functional and technical analysis of the solution, the IT development and the implementation. They generally work on two to three projects during a week, with different clients, challenges, technologies and sectors. That is a snapshot of what a B12’s consultant life look like.
Of course, like any job, this kind of environment does not suit everyone. But if you are curious and attracted by challenges… let yourself be tempted!
Looking for a new challenge? Take a look at our latest job opportunities!