If you’re looking to hire a software consultant to guide the successful development of your next project, learning helpful tips may assist you in selecting a consultant who aligns with your needs.
Strategic Consulting Designed Around Your Business.
We employ a collaborative and highly consultative process to learn from all key stakeholders. Our robust review strives to identify your current process and your emerging needs and goals. Once we clarify and agree on the business problems we develop a work plan.
InterSoft Associates are successful software consultants with over 35 years of experience in this field. Our goal is to work with our clients by listening collaborating, guiding and advising to satisfy your business needs. Our technical expertise is focused on problem solving. To get a clearer picture of working with us, we offer 4 successful case studies of our approach and solution to these specific clients’ problems.
What to Consider Before Hiring a Software Consultant
If you are looking for software consultancy services, there are several key areas to take into consideration before making your selection.
A successful strategic software consulting company should have a deep understanding of software development, including programming languages, frameworks, and best practices. In addition, a consultant should have a strong understanding of the specific technologies and programming languages that are relevant to your project. This could include programming languages like Java, Python, or C++, as well as frameworks like React or Angular.
InterSoft Associates consultants provide expert advice and guidance to the client on a range of topics, from technology selection, software development methodologies, system design, to best practices for project management. We are often tasked with developing custom software solutions for the client, including designing, coding, testing, and debugging the software.
Strong problem-solving skills
A software consultant is called upon to solve complex problems for their clients. This requires the ability to think critically and creatively, and to come up with effective solutions.
InterSoft Associates are skilled in managing the software development process from start to finish, including planning, scheduling, and coordinating tasks and resources.
We also employ our strong collaboration skills in order to improve outcomes from the original client vision.
An example of our problem-solving skills is our work we did for Pearson, the world’s largest education company, produces textbooks.
One of the challenges facing Credit and Customer Service groups in all companies is dispute management. Thousands of customers delay payment based on inaccurate invoices or non-receipt of goods.
Proof of Delivery – DSO Improvements
One of the major areas of dispute management that was facing the senior management of the Credit and Collections Department at Pearson, the world’s largest education company was that customers were demanding a Proof of Delivery (POD) in order to expedite payment of current or past due receivables. As a result, the negative impact on Days Sales Outstanding (DSO) was noticeable and action had to be taken to ensure that Credit Representatives could quickly retrieve and forward the required documentation in order to ease the collection burden. For an individual shipment a Credit or Customer Service Representative could go to a transportation carrier’s website and download the required information. But, for large orders, which sometimes can contain hundreds or thousands of individual shipments this was not practical. Adding to the problem was the fact that transportation carriers carry proof of delivery information for a limited amount of time. Personnel were spending an inordinate amount of time “hunting down” the documentation with incomplete results causing DSO to remain at an unacceptable level.
InterSoft Associates was asked to develop a solution to this complex problem. After examining the workflow as well the systems and data that were available, it was determined that a two-phased approach would be ideal
The first phase of this project involved the creation of an interface that leveraged the information in the Order Processing Datamart together with the carrier database to periodically extract and store all POD-related data locally. This gave Credit and Customer Service representatives the ability to quickly and efficiently retrieve the invoice copy and the associated POD information in order to print and mail, fax or email the requisite information directly to the customer. Reports were also created that matched multiple invoices and PODs that would be forwarded to customers to help expedite payment. These reports aided Accounts Receivable in quickly and accurately reconciling and settling accounts with customers.
The second phase addressed issues identified by large customers such as the city of New York. These customers required detailed delivery information that included the actual signature for each parcel delivered. Software was developed to “mine” the various carriers’ websites to retrieve and store the signatures as enhanced PODs based on the series of tracking numbers maintained in the Order Processing Datamart. The software provided two additional capabilities. Data was organized and sent to the large customers in formats that they could easily process containing the invoice (already sent), POD and the delivery signature. Credit and Customer Service Representatives were also given the ability to dynamically retrieve this additional data to send to customers whose balances were past due.
This effort eliminated the need to manually navigate the carriers’ websites and tediously search for and transmit the information necessary to effect payment. The result of the POD initiative was that nearly 100% of all monies due from these customers, in particular New York City, paid on a timely basis thereby improving dispute resolution by quickly reconciling customer accounts, reducing write-offs, improving cash collections, greatly reducing DSO and significantly improving cash-flow.
Building and maintaining good relationships with clients is an important responsibility of a software consultant. InterSoft Associates maintain that regular communication with their clients is vital. Educating clients by explaining technical concepts in a way that is easy for non-technical people to understand, managing client expectations, sharing insights, and providing excellent customer service is part of our philosophy, allowing us to build healthy business relationships.
A successful software consultant should also have a good understanding of business, including how to create value for clients and how to negotiate contracts and pricing. With over 35 years of experience, InterSoft Associates continues to conduct its business with integrity, in depth knowledge, innovative approaches, and following best practices as software consultants.
A successful software consultant should be able to adapt to changing requirements and technology. This may involve learning new programming languages or frameworks, or adapting to new business processes. At InterSoft Associates we know that every consulting case is unique. We approach each new opportunity with an open attitude towards the possibilities and potential solutions. We understand the importance to be flexible and innovative whenever we approach a new job. An example of innovation thinking that led to a seamless solution is how InterSoft Associates solved Pearson’s need to create a tracking system for not only its numerous educational textbooks, but those of third parties as well.
Need to Create a Tracking System Pearson Education
Pearson, the world’s largest education company, produces textbooks (via Pearson such as Prentice Hall, Addison-Wesley Longman and Scott Foresman), trade publications (Penguin) and provides Assessment services including the GMAT, Stanford Diagnostics and teacher certification exams.
With such a vast array of products, Pearson needed a system that could track the acquisition, usage, sale and accounting for rights acquired and utilized in their own products as well as those of third parties. There were numerous departmental-centric approaches, ranging from manual processes to Excel spreadsheets to simple homegrown systems to handle this complicated functionality.
InterSoft was invited to present a universal custom software solution to Pearson that could meet their short and long-term goals for managing the rights process.
After reviewing the overall scope of the initiative with senior management, it was determined that core system functionality would be developed in modules:
A Rights Accounting module to ensure proper accounting for all rights sold including proper and timely payment to authors.
A Rights Marketing module to automate the complex processes of marketing, recording and closing sales of intellectual property to third parties.
A Permission Granting module to automate the workflow of the granting process, including recording of requests, determining if permission should be granted, communicating with requestors and creating contracts. Tracking payment status and history is a key element of this module.
A Rights Acquisition module to manage the entire process of selection of assets and acquisition of them for use in works published by Pearson.
With the development of each module of the Rights Management System, InterSoft consultants met with management and key Subject Matter Experts to gain an understanding of the business processes, needs and goals. During this review process additional functionality, workflow and revenue improvement suggestions were provided by InterSoft. As a result of these reviews a functional, strategic and technical design was provided, reviewed and approved so that development could begin.
The integration of the Rights Management modules with each other and with the systems that Pearson already utilizes for Inventory Management, Royalty Accounting, Accounts Payable and General Accounting provide a seamless solution to controlling intellectual property for the organization.
The implementation of the Rights Management System resulted in over $6 million dollars per year in increased revenue in advances and royalty payments. Pearson also realized over $3 million dollars per year in avoided royalty payments because author-related expenses were easily captured contemporaneously.
Reliability is an important trait for a software consultant. A consultant can have the technical and problem-solving skills, but if they are not reliable to follow through and follow up by providing support after implementation, a client could be left without help or protection when it is needed. Depending upon the client’s requirements, InterSoft Associates consultants may be responsible for providing ongoing support and maintenance for the software, including troubleshooting issues, making updates and enhancements, providing training to the client’s team(s).
A superior software consultant needs to be proactive by staying up to date with the latest trends and best practices in the software development industry in order to provide the best possible solutions to clients. In addition, they need to be able to anticipate future problems, needs, or changes, so that solutions can be found and addressed sooner.
Overall, a successful software consultant is someone who is highly skilled, proactive in addressing issues, able to adapt to new situations, and has strong communication and problem-solving skills. Intersoft’s software consultants can confidently check off each of these skills. Our solutions are built on technology, but you will find that our successful approach is built on our relationship with, you, the client.
Responsibilities of a Software Consultant
The responsibilities of a software consultant can vary depending on the specific project and the needs of the client. However, there are some common responsibilities that are part of Intersoft’s software consulting approach towards every client.
1. Understanding the client’s needs and identifying the project’s requirements 2. Bringing in all of the proper constituencies and subject matter experts. 3. Providing expert advice and guidance 4. Developing software solutions 5. Managing the software development process from start to finish, including planning, scheduling, and coordinating tasks and other resources 6. Providing ongoing support and maintenance for the software, including troubleshooting issues, making updates and enhancements. 7. Managing client relationships with regular communication 8. Managing budgets and resources 9. Developing and maintaining project documentation 10. Leading and mentoring a team / teams 11. Providing support after implementation 12. Working with external partners and vendors, if required
Key Metrics for Software Consulting Success
Here are a few key metrics that can be used to measure the success of a software consultant. At InterSoft Associates we take these metrics seriously.
One of the most important indicators of success for a software consultant is client satisfaction. This can be measured through surveys, interviews, in addition to a high rate of referrals and repeat business from satisfied clients. At InterSoft Associates by establishing a partnership with each client, we can do our jobs better and serve you better as well.
All businesses strive for client satisfaction. Below we discuss Counseling in Schools issues and Kevin Dahill-Fuchel’s comments about working with InterSoft Associates and the data collection system solution we developed and implemented for them.
“As the Executive Director of Counseling In Schools, a not-for-profit operating in NYC, there is a scarcity of funds available for infrastructure projects. Hy and his team are developing one data collection system that will be a solution for both long standing fiscal and outcome measurement challenges. Hy has been able to assess our needs and translate them to the world of online software solutions. Being a good listener, a savvy technician and a highly responsive individual are the standout qualities on which I rest this recommendation.” – Kevin Dahill-Fuchel
BUSINESS SITUATION at Counseling in Schools
Counseling in Schools is a 30-year-old not-for-profit organization focused on implementing – strength-based counseling programs for children and families and partnering with school administrators to improve student outcomes. While the organization has been successful because of their work, they had always struggled to quantify it, which had been an
enormous limitation; assessing outcomes against objectives based on several variables is key to the success of the organization’s programs as well as to future planning and growth.
Gathering the data to perform such evaluations was at best slow and cumbersome. School counselor activities were entered in handwritten logs that were faxed and transcribed into multiple spreadsheets by administrative staff. Assembling meaningful information from which analysis could be conducted was virtually impossible. To make matters worse, this information is required for invoicing, a process which was consequently replete with delays.
Working with senior executives, the administrative staff and representative IT staff, InterSoft documented the existing processes and identified key areas that could be automated. It was determined that the best solution would be to create a secure portal where counselors could input data directly regarding interactions with students in addition to relevant school and student information.
The software system InterSoft created sped data collection and accuracy and eliminated the need to fax and transcribe information. The data that is gathered will provide the basis for improved analytics, enabling Counseling in Schools to measure activities vs. proven outcomes such as improved attendance, grades and graduation rates. An additional benefit that was not initially foreseen was that the system facilitated more timely billing of clients, providing improved cash flow. Furthermore, as employees are no longer engaged in manual processes, administrative staff can focus on more critical tasks. This project has become a long-term strategic endeavor for the organization and new capabilities with their own benefits will be incorporated over time.
The success of a software consulting project can be measured by whether it is completed on time, within budget, and meets the stated objectives and requirements. This can be assessed through project reports, performance metrics, and other project management tools.
The satisfaction of the software consultant’s team and the leading and mentoring of a client’s team should be an important indicator of success. By prioritizing our personal and business connections with our clients, and allowing our clients to take part in the process, InterSoft Associates continues to be able to build trust and ultimately team satisfaction for everyone involved.
Impact on the client’s business
The impact of the software consulting services on the client’s business is an important measure of success. It may include improvements in efficiency, productivity, or other key business metrics. At InterSoft Associates our goal is to empower and enable our clients to achieve their goals. InterSoft Associates has been working for more than 20 years to provide support, short term and long term, as well as satisfaction to our clients. We consider every client as a potential long-term business partner in our eyes, and we treat them accordingly.
Software Consulting: Common Errors
With its years of experience and client satisfaction, InterSoft Associates is successful in avoiding some common errors committed by software consultants who are less experienced / less knowledgeable.
The depth of our experience and our strategic consulting approach to understanding and implementing solutions to technical issues is evident by how we helped a company that provides SaaS software to nursing homes allowing them to manage their population, invoice and manage their health care needs.
Software for Nursing Homes
This company provides SaaS software that allows nursing homes to manage their population, invoice and manage their health care needs.
Problem – Their software – which is browser-based – was written in an older technology that only worked in Internet Explorer v11. It would not work with the more modern and more secure browsers. They reached out to two other developers. One of the software firms to whom they reached couldn’t even “read” their software code. It was that old.
The second development firm suggested a rewrite. The issues with a complete rewrite is not just cost of the development – while that was significantly expensive. There were other costs and risks. They included:
1. Significant soft costs in staff time to adequately test the software that was being written. 2. There was a large risk that even with rigorous testing, potential errors in the software could jeopardize the nursing home residents’ health care. 3. The other major risk was financial in that if billing to the various government entities is problematic, long delays receiving payments can occur – affecting cash flow.
InterSoft was invited to bid by one our former software developers.
InterSoft Associates Solution
After analyzing the system and the actual software, we arrived at the following approach:
1. We recommended that the software did not need to be rewritten, it could be updated in-place so that it will work with any browser – including IE11 as well as Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Edge. 2. We would leverage their existing business logic and database queries – not rewrite them. 3. This would be accomplished by taking the business logic out of the in-line source code and place it in a central location so that would make the software more reliable and better documented. 4. We also transated the ASP technology into ASP.NET
The benefits of this approach included:
1. Significantly reduced cost. 2. Significantly limit the cost and duration of the testing phase because no new code to execute the business logic was incorporated into the software. This approach also virtually eliminated any health-care risk. 3. The updated software could be released in stages.
1. Underestimating the scope or complexity of a project: Software projects can often be more complex and time-consuming than initially anticipated. Failing to accurately estimate the scope of a project can lead to delays, budget overruns, and unhappy clients.
2. Not properly communicating with the client: Communication is key in any project, and it is especially important for software consulting projects where the consultant is working with clients who may not have a technical background. Failing to properly communicate with the client can lead to misunderstandings and misaligned expectations.
3. Not keeping up with industry trends and best practices: Technology is constantly evolving, and software consultants need to stay up to date with industry trends and best practices in order to deliver the best possible solutions to their clients. Failing to do so can result in outdated or suboptimal solutions.
4. Not carefully managing risks: Every project comes with its own set of risks, and it is important for software consultants to identify and mitigate these risks in order to ensure the success of the project. Failing to properly manage risks can lead to unexpected issues and delays.
5. Not properly managing project resources: Proper resource management is critical to the success of a software consulting project. Failing to properly allocate resources or manage team dynamics can lead to issues such as burnout, poor quality of work, and project delays.
6. Not systematically documenting the project: Proper documentation is essential for both the short-term and the long-term success of a software consulting project. It helps to ensure that everyone involved in the project is on the same page, and it can serve as a reference for future updates or modifications. Failing to properly document the project can lead to confusion and errors. It can also cause the client to be “tied” to the software consultant for support and modifications. Proper documentation allows the client to be in control of how they support their software going forward.
7. Not properly testing the software: Testing is an important step in the software development process, and it is crucial for software consultants to thoroughly test the software before it is delivered to the client. It is also important for the software consultant to employ best practices and help the client to properly test the software before it is released. We accomplish this by proper communication and extensive documentation. Failing to properly test the software can result in defects or bugs that can impact the functionality and user experience of the software.
8. Poorly managing client expectations: It is important for software consultants to manage client expectations from the beginning of the project in order to avoid misunderstandings or disappointment. Failing to do so can lead to unhappy clients and potentially damage the reputation of the software consulting firm.
9. Not adapting to change: Change is an inevitable part of the software development process, and it is important for software consultants to be flexible and adapt to changes as they arise. Failing to adapt to change can lead to project delays and frustration for both the consultant and the client.
10. Poorly managing client relationships: Building and maintaining good relationships with clients is key to the success of any software consulting firm. Failing to properly manage client relationships can lead to misunderstandings, mistrust, and potentially lost business.
InterSoft Associates, as a software development consulting firm, provides high-quality software solutions and experiences across software architecture, UX/UI design, cloud computing, DevOps, API development, data analysis, security, quality assurance, agile methodologies, strategic consulting, and more. We can bridge knowledge gaps in software development and technology and help you achieve your goals quickly and successfully.
As a strategic consultant, our role is to do what is best for you. We will work with you to solve your problem, in the most cost efficient way possible. This could include custom software development or something off-the-shelf that will better help you. Or perhaps all that’s required is a critical adjustment of what you already have in place.
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