Fighting Consulting Firms

a.k.a. how some Publishers view independent Developers

This is a quote found buried in the middle of the otherwise completely unrelated, but sometimes highly amusing, “rant to end all rants” about the rise and fall of the talent and skill of the people within the Ruby on Rails development community:

I have a few pieces of advice for people about to hire any company like ThoughtWorks. There’s just a few simple strategies you can follow to make sure you get the most out of them and get your money’s worth:

1. Make sure you have the right to see every resume and interview each consultant they place. Treat them like new hires and don’t let anyone who’s not worth the rate you’re paying on the team.
2. Demand a variable rate based on the position of the person and their experience.
3. Demand that no employees can leave the project to work on another project. These placements have to be for the life of the project or until the employee quits.
4. Require that you have the right to have someone replaced if they are not immediately capable. Part of what you’re paying is that a ThoughtWorker should be able to drop in commando style and just start working. The reality is they are usually totally lost anyway.
5. Seriously consider recruiting one full time employee as a team lead, another as a project manager, and then staff the rest of your team with independent consultants. You’ll find that you get more control and better quality at a lower price.

Having employed one extremely famous web-design consultancy, run by some of the most famous world experts in using XHTML/CSS (and doing so attractively), and had very similar discoveries/realizations about their dodgy business practices when we were charged 5-figure sums for 3 webpages that were thrown together in around half an hour … in 2005 … I found the list above quite a good starting point for anyone considering paying an external team of experts :).

At some point, I’d like to followup with my own lessons learnt from what to do and what not to do on the publisher side of the game-publisher/game-developer relationship.

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