I came across an interesting article in Windows IT Pro magazine at TechEd about hiring consultants. Unfortunately the article is a subscriber one that costs $$, but if you kept the free issue from TechEd, it's on page 81 and 82
The gist of the article is trying to find ways to hire effective consultants. It has good advice, some of which I've seen in a few other articles (Follow these three rules when choosing tech consultants and Rules for Managing Consultants). Face it, hiring consultants is hard and not something I enjoy doing. Nor Andy and I feel bad for him being in the situation of having to use some.
The interesting thing that I saw, however, was the last item that dealt with bringing a consultant in house. Now that's something you want to be careful of anyway because the type of person that decides to be a consultant, working for lots of different companies, is fundamentally a different type of person that you want to retain as an employee. Always be wary of converting someone unless there is some event that made them decide to not be a consultant anymore.
The part that caught my eye, however, 4 paragraphs later, had to do with the conversion salary. It basically listed a conversion factor of consultants should be less costly than an equivalent FTE X 3. You have to include benefits, but basically a US$60,000 employee equates to a max consulting rate of $117/hour. That's with a 30% benefits rate. Keep in mind that's max, but still that's quite the rate.
So I'm curious. How many of you bill, or have your company bill, rates that are 3 times what you'd pay an in house person? How many of you get about 1/3 of your bill rate? Or more importantly, how many of you think that a consultant is worth 3 times an FTE?
There are times and places to use consultants, but in general I've billed and worked and hired consultants as slightly more than twice an FTE. And that's the max!
To me, this sounds more like a consultant giving free advice to potential employers. Except nothing's free. Never, ever, ever, nothing in this world is free. Even Grandma's cookies cost a hug or kiss.
To me this is more like ammunition to bill more to your clients. After all, it's in print
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