There's an article that's making its way through the SQL Ranks: Consultants are pros, while corporate IT staff are minor leaguers. Louis Davidson (blog | twitter) has a response to it here: Big League Technical Staff. Basically, the premise of the original is that consultants are major leaguers because they deal with different environments, have short time lines, and are constantly moving on to the next problem. Corporate IT doesn't do these things, so they aren't as good. Now it would be easy to bash consultants and us corporate IT folks have plenty of consultant horror stories. But let's just show how illogical the premise is with respect to the quality of corporate IT staff.
Andy is a great friend of mine. He was a consultant. He was a published author, MVP, and well respected in the community. I guess that makes him major leagues. But then came a chance to work for his dream boss. But it meant corporate IT. He took it. Did he suddenly get dropped off the major league roster? Did his ability to do everything he did as a consultant suddenly go out the window? No, of course not. Now he's a consultant again. Did he automagically get his swagger back simply because he put consultant back as his title?See how ridiculous it is to try and classify one group one way and the other group another?
If you've never heard Louis speak about data modeling, you need to. I've had the privilege of sitting through a SQL Saturday session of his and loved it. On a side note I learned quite a bit. He's a published author and MVP as well. Louis, who has written several books on data modeling in SQL Server (among other books, mind you), is minor league? Really? You want to try and justify that? Of course he's not. Which goes to show how silly the original premise is.
I first heard about Linchi Shea because he wrote THE book on managing SQL Server with Perl. But that's not all he's good at. Did I mention he's an MVP, too? And if you think he's minor league, go read his blog. How many consultants have you run across who could drop that kind of knowledge? There aren't many, just like there aren't many on the corporate IT side. But if Linchi is minor league, I want to see the average consultant (who is a major leaguer, mind you) who knows more than that. And that's exactly Louis' point.
But These Are Exceptions...
These three are exceptional, sure. But exceptions, no. To say there aren't great, knowledgeable people within the rank and file of corporate IT staff is foolish. With respect to consultants, I've seen my share of good and bad. And I've also seen my share of good and bad in the corporate ranks. I'm of the same opinion of Louis, in that you can't say that one group are the rockstars and the other group the folks playing in cover bands. That original article gave examples of tasks he had seen corporate IT fail to do. Admittedly, that's sad. Those things should be doable by folks in those jobs. But what's equally sad is I've seen consultants who can't do those things, either. It's not isolated to one group. To try and make that claim makes me seriously doubt your ability to use logic and reason properly. And in IT, those are critical skills to be a professional.