Information Consultants

I was talking to a client a couple of days ago and he said he would be willing to pay me from his own budget as an “Information Consultant” rather than as a provider of IT services.  I can see that working for Excel but would unfortunately be a more difficult sell for Access (although there’s no real reason why).  I work with people who use Excel (and Access) to collect and analyze “Information”.  Some of that info can come from centralized databases and corporate but as we all know here, a lot of it comes directly from spreadsheets or is calculated in spreadsheets.  This is “Business Information”. 

If the user did their analysis using a piece of paper, or even a calculator, would that be considered an IT function?  Is the preparation of a Word-Processing document an IT function or “merely” part of the business process?  If you hire a communication or marketing specialist to help you make a slick and professional Powerpoint presentation is that an IT function?  If not then what is the difference?

Microsoft has a class of reps worldwide that specialize in Information Workers focusing on the tools that IW’s use.  Unfortunately I’m pretty sure their path inside organizations is still through IT and they wouldn’t appreciate this distinction. But it’s an open question though whether support of IW’s is an IT or a business function. 

I will be talking more about my IW skills and less about my IT skills when discussing solutions with clients for a while and see what happens.


About Biggus Dickus

Dick is a consultant in London, ON Canada who specializes in Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Office Development.
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6 Responses to Information Consultants

  1. JP says:

    It’s an artificial distinction for sure, but maybe your client has to do it to avoid involving his IT department?

    Or maybe it’s because, as you say, Excel and Access use are not really seen as IT functions.

  2. Dick Moffat says:

    “Or maybe it’s because, as you say, Excel and Access use are not really seen as IT functions.”

    And yet they are being sucked into the umbrella of IT within corporations. I believe they are IT functions, but I believe they have to be more independently managed. I have found that imposing IT protocols and procedures on Excel and Access simply mean they will always stay “amateur”, because implementing a formal process on them usually kills the goose that the users hope would lay the golden egg of productivity and flexibility. The cost goes up to the point where they can’t be justified – which is probably all too often the goal of IT actually :-).


  3. JP says:

    I believe the attitude many users have can best be described by a Twitter message found at Excel Twitters 20090717:

    Ugh, do NOT want to make charts in Excel. I’m a webmaster intern, not an administrative assistant.

  4. Dick Moffat says:

    “I’m a webmaster intern, not an administrative assistant.”

    That’s great !! Sums it up pretty good. Supports my argument.

    The hard part will be getting people to pay for the skills outside of an IT “cover”. How can we legitimize our skills when it is so easy to get into Excel and to get your nephew to try to fix it on a weekend?

    We all need to promote ourselves as “professionals” and build up a CV that supports as high a fee as we can muster.

    But I think there needs to be more help from “The Maker” for Excel as a legitimate business tool – as oppose to as simply a technology story. Bad spreadsheets make Excel look bad, so the World needs to build respect for those who can make them work and make them safe …. (??)


  5. Simon says:

    Good point Dick about trying to squeeze around the IT radar, but as you say, how to do that whilst still maintaining IT style rates?
    That nephew problem and the accessibility of MS products especially client, is a real issue. Oracle devs don’t have that problem.

  6. Dick Moffat says:

    But if we don’t free ourselves from IT’s attitude towards us (which isn’t likely to change without effort from on high) then we will have to figure out how to promote our community ourselves – somehow.


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