An introduction to the world of technology Consulting

In this blog post Sharon Cant, Recruitment Marketing Specialist at auticon UK, shares an introduction to the world of technology Consulting, and then highlights what makes auticon a bit different, and so special! Please note that some processes and terminology will relate to auticon UK specifically as each auticon location operates slightly different to align with their local market.

 How does technology consulting work?

If you’re unfamiliar with the world of technology consulting, it can be hard to grasp how technology consultancies operate and what it means to work as a consultant. We hope this blog post helps to demystify things and provides some insight into what makes auticon so special as a social enterprise technology consultancy. 

What technology consultancies do

Let’s start with on overview of technology consultancies generally. Technology consultancies provide a range of technology, data and cyber security services — including advice, guidance and solutions — to other organisations who are their clients. They do this by employing people with skills sought after by clients, to work as consultants. The technology consultancy then hires these staff members out to a client so they can add extra expertise to the client’s in-house team of permanent staff. Normally, technology consultancies charge their clients a day rate for the work the consultant undertakes. Consultants are typically contracted for project work for several months, but there is flexibility for the arrangement to be extended or curtailed. The benefit to the client is they can quickly and easily bring in expertise without having to employ the person directly. Hiring a consultant provides a flexible solution to a talent shortage and although day rates can seem high, consultancy can be more cost-effective than hiring in-house staff, especially for short-term projects or specialist expertise. The ongoing commitments and some of the overheads associated with an in-house employee are also avoided.

How technology consultancies generate business

Technology consultancies are always looking for new engagements for their consultants. They might be seeking to place more consultants with existing clients, or they may be looking to win new clients to unlock more opportunities. When consultants aren’t on a client project, they are what’s called “on the bench”. How technology consultancies deal with bench time varies – some only pay their consultants when they’re on a project, some pay a reduced amount, and some pay their consultants as normal. While consultants are on the bench,they aren’t generating any income, so at some firms the bench is a risky place to be. If a technology consultancy needs to reduce expenditure, it may look at the staff members not currently generating income and consider lay-offs.

What does working as a technology consultant entail?

When you work as a technology consultant, it can feel like you have two employers. You have your permanent employer (the technology consultancy), but you also have your client (who is allocating you work). And you’ll likely have a line manager to report to on both sides. You’ll also be expected to accurately record the time you spend working for the client via timesheets. These are used by the consultancy to invoice the client for your work with them. The precise nature of a consultant’s work can vary widely. At some technology consultancies, consultants may specialise more in advisory services and projects are sought where consultants can lead teams or projects. At other consultancies, the consultants are more like additional staff members – they don’t necessarily join projects to lead or strategise, but to be an additional staff resource to work alongside the permanent team. At auticon, most of our projects fall into the second category. Working as an technology consultant can also come with some level of unpredictability – client projects can change or end at relatively short notice and you could find yourself joining a new client team to work on a new project, or spending some time on the bench.

What makes auticon different?

At auticon, while we broadly follow the standard technology consultancy model, there are some differences, many of which benefit neurodivergent individuals. The main difference is that our social mission, to reduce barriers to employment for autistic and neurodivergent people and celebrate the strengths of neurodiversity, is at the heart of how we run our organisation. 

An obvious distinction is that our entire team of consultants are autistic. When we look for client projects, we seek organisations who feel they would benefit from the additional staff resource our consultants provide, and who are also interested in our social mission. We want the process of hiring an auticon consultant to be part of a wider learning journey for our clients where they develop their understanding of autism and neurodivergence. We provide support and training to organisations so we’re confident we’ll be placing our consultants into a supportive environment where they can thrive.

Another difference stems from the fact we’re keen to provide employment security and longevity. This means our priority is to ensure our consultants are well supported and can enjoy a period of sustained employment. This may have been difficult for them previously. 

We recruit new consultants on permanent contracts based on client demands in the market. Our aim is to have all our consultants working on client projects, but often there is a gap between projects, during which we place the consultant on the bench. We use this time to provide training and upskilling for the consultant so they’re prepared for their next assignment. The consultant will receive their salary and all their employee benefits such as job coaching as normal during this period. This comes at a cost to auticon but is integral to our model as a social enterprise. It also means we’re more likely to be able to hire new consultants when we don’t have many of our existing consultants on the bench.

We’re loyal to our staff and are rewarded with loyalty in return. A big part of that loyalty stems from how much our consultants value the in-built coaching support we offer. Our coaches work with our consultants to help them thrive in the world of technology consulting and are always on hand to assist with some of the aspects our autistic staff can find challenging, such as managing change and unpredictability. You can read more about our coaching support in our next blog post.

We hope this post has helped you understand more about technology consulting in general, and what is different about working as a technology consultant* at auticon.

(*At auticon, we use technology consultant as an umbrella term – actual job titles can vary and may include IT Consultant, Tech Consultant or Data Consultant.)

Find out more about working at auticon on our website

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