Software and customer's jobs

freelance strategy

Apr 2014

To examine needs for consulting services, a discussion with Graham Clark from San Francisco reminded me to look at the Value Proposition Canvas from Alexander Osterwalder. When designing services and products, Osterwalder suggests to take a look 3 segments in a circle: Customer jobs, pains and gains.

In this post, I want to explore a bit the first question about “customer jobs”, see the right part in the figure below.

When a company buys consulting hours for services on software development, what are the goals and/or jobs of a customer?

On a first thought companies hire consultants for these reasons:

  • Avoid research costs: Know-how mostly originates from research, but research is cost intensive. So, a customer might try to find people and technologies to reduce research costs. This might be why many software and engineering consultancies are ending with “lab”, e.g. like Pivotal-labs, Envy-Labs, Formidable-Labs, Metalab or inhouse research like Bell-labs or Nat-lab

  • Solve “one-time” problems: There are situations where software is needed only “one-time”, e.g. to process data from an unique CRM campaign, to process a portfolio acquisition or a certain kind of measurement, … Companies just want to solve that custom problem, without investing into much research or building a team around that one-time problem. One-time problems also give nice online services, e.g. Slicecraft or other PSD-2-Sass conversion services.

  • Improve “social status”: For certain kinds of jobs, it might “sound” better if it is done by an external consultancy. Management consultancies might work a bit in that area. If you look at McKinsey, BCG or other top management consultancies, they offer some kind of social status around their services. In software, this might be the reason that companies hire freelancers working with products from Microsoft or Google. Placing yourself close to these companies, attracts a somewhat social status too.

Apart from the jobs of companies for freelancers, it might be interesting to look at the pains companies have with their current software solutions or freelancers. This might be the topic of another post.

Let me know what you think of your customer’s jobs.

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