Do You Build New Systems or Maintain Old Ones?

build new systems
Do you build new systems?

If you’re like me, you don’t’ like to put a lot of money into your home for maintenance.  To me, there’s just not a lot of gratification to maintenance.

For example, I recently installed a new sump pump in my home.  Since then, not a single person has complemented me on how nice my house looks with the new sump pump.  It was just maintenance work that needed to be done.

By contrast, a neighbor of mine just ha d a new brick patio installed with a built-in fire pit.  It’s beautiful and they’ve gotten some nice complements on it.  (As much as I love their new patio, my jealous side wonders how crappy their sump pump looks compared to my shiny new one).

But the difference is that we all like the sexy projects that create something new and – hopefully improve the way things look and work.

Some maintain existing systems

It’s not all that different in the business world.  They have software systems, marketing plans and many other processes, assets and systems that make up their “house”. A server goes down? There’s an infrastructure team to handle it.  An exception comes up with the order entry process?  The order entry team resolves it and may adopt a new policy for whenever that situation occurs.

Some build new systems

But if a new software system has to be developed, the company will often hire a consulting firm to help them implement it.  Hiring a consulting firm with deep knowledge of the software application and the project management and programming skills to do it will greatly improve the chances of getting it done right.  And it will free up the company’s staff to continue to maintain the legacy system until the project eventually replaces it.

So consultants are hired to build new systems; new, exciting projects that get the attention of the executives and are often more visible to the external customers.  And the company’s employees are relegated to maintain the old ones.  Consultants put in the beautiful patio and employees replace the sump pumps.

It’s not always the case.  Some companies have a team of their own employees implement new software systems and hire consultants for ongoing maintenance of their servers and applications.  Just as some do-it-yourselfers put in their own patios and some hire an expert to install the sump pump.

But more often than not, the consultants get the exciting and challenging work that also includes learning newer technologies or the latest best practices.

People have asked me why five years of experience in consulting is better than the same experience at a non-consulting firm.  This is the primary reason.  Often times, five years of experience outside of consulting is really one year of experience five times over.

There are no hard and fast rules.  Consultants get pigeon-holed without opportunities for growth and non-consultants find growth challenge and – most importantly – job satisfaction.

See my related post: The Difference between Consultants and Employees

But one has to do their homework to determine what the company has to offer and what they want out of a job and their career before committing to working there.

Do you build new systems or maintain old ones in your current job?

If you would like to learn more about working in consulting, get Lew’s book Consulting 101: 101 Tips for Success in Consulting at Amazon.com 

Related Posts
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client
The 1998 baseball season was the most exciting season that I can remember.  Sammy Sosa and Mark McGuire went head-to-head in a home run race that ended with them both ...
READ MORE
Some Consulting What Ifs
What if Consultants… Focused on client issues rather than margin and billable hours Acted as if they were guests at a client site – not subservient, but not condescending Said no to the ...
READ MORE
Consultants Give Clients a Kick in the Seat of the Pants
There are many types of consultants. Some consultants strictly give advice.  They may perform a study of the client’s internal processes, review their financials and submit a report detailing the changes ...
READ MORE
A Consulting Limerick
A man tried a career in consulting But his approach with clients was insulting He was arrogant and rude With the clients he’d feud And they found him to be quite revolting   The firm chose ...
READ MORE
The Arsonist and the Fireman
The City’s Hero The city was experiencing a rash of fires.  Arson was usually suspected but the source of the flame could never be proven. Fortunately, the city had a crack firefighting ...
READ MORE
Why Consulting Firms Fail
Imagine that you have a leak in your bathroom faucet that keeps your significant other awake at night.  As a result, your SO’s insomnia has spread to become your problem ...
READ MORE
Protecting Client Confidentiality
Doctors are required to protect confidential patient medical information by law with the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  Lawyers are held to an attorney-client privilege holding them to ...
READ MORE
Consulting Priority: Billable Hours
Once, early in my career, I was a project manager on a billable project. One Monday, I got a call from the partner in charge of my project asking why ...
READ MORE
Dealing with a Condescending Client
Maybe you’ve experienced this scenario.  You’re sitting in the client’s conference room attempting to help them solve a problem.  In an effort to brainstorm, you come up with some ideas.  ...
READ MORE
Why Do You Want to Work From Home?
Working from home is a growing trend in the business world.  In an effort to cut back on office space and other overhead costs, many companies have set up their ...
READ MORE
Consulting Skill: Focus on the Client
Some Consulting What Ifs
Consultants Give Clients a Kick in the Seat
A Consulting Limerick
The Arsonist and the Fireman
Why Consulting Firms Fail
Protecting Client Confidentiality
Consulting Priority: Billable Hours
Dealing with a Condescending Client
Why Do You Want to Work From Home?