I have been in the consulting biz for more then 30 years ( unfortunately ). The outside consultant has classically been the duty whipping boy. The consultant is not always like by the engineering staff, because he represents their failure to solve the problem. I see it like the role of a Irish wake eater. The consultant is their to eat the sins of the engineering department and 'make it all better and have the problem go away' for the engineering department manager.
As they often say, the consultant knows exactly where to kick the box and make it work, not necessarily how to kick the box. He is the idea man the comes in to refresh the train of thought of the engineering staff to a new solution approach. this is often his best value. Engineers that work on a project for over a year, get tunnel vision and need new ideas
What a pack of coyotes we are! Please, guys, try to keep this thread on an engineering basis. If you don't like an article, write your own, its accessible enough here.
I agree about the links though. Probably some valid cyber-reason for it.
z1 is right - this is a pathetic article. My experience is that the majority of the time, the problem is with people in the client's organization -- not with the consultant. People like Ketel are over-night experts who generally knew nothing about the subject until poaching someone elses idea. I bet his co-workers really love him.
What a pathetic article by William Ketel. Here comes this individual (consultant) with a good idea none of the others in the team thought of and which obviously needed work (engineering does not come without sweat) and William has to immediately bash the consultant since the idea was not perfect, and further goes on to claim the glory for the idea for having stolen it and then finished it.
By the way if you add the overheads for employees including 401K, Medical etc they actually cost the same or more than consultants. Consultants of course can be hired and fired at an instant notice.
I would say that bashing that particular consultant would be justified. I have worked in that area (twenty-five years ago) and a peizoelectric transducer is the first thing I would have thought of. He neither realized the isolation requirements nor noticed the lack of the expected delay. In my mind, that makes his competence pretty questionable.
The only problem I have with the article isthe stereotypyping going on in the title - It all boils down to people. All consultants aren't bad and all engineers aren't always ethical. Under any given set of circumstances any given person's behavior cannot be predicted. Unfortunately, the article leaves the impression that all consultants or contractors or temps or whatever you are going to call them or thier companies are somehow less effective than full time employees (I've been both), and it's just a bad generalization. Problems of this nature are most often caused by a failure in the personnel selection or specification process -- the skillset and qualifications don't match what really needs to be done. Similarly problems where the individual's performance doesn't meet the requirements should be followed up with the requisite financial penalties and or barring the contractor from working for the company again. If it had been me I would have given all or part of the consulting fees back.
Again it all boils down to the individual.