Tips from a colleague: ā€¯Flexibility is advantageous"

When working as a freelance consultant, it can be difficult to navigate in a world that is constantly evolving, presenting new challenges and new knowledge, and where high pace, expectations, and commitment are some of the fundamental elements. Here, IT consultant Hendrik Hansen gives his advice on how to best succeed as a freelance IT consultant. 

Interview with Hendrik W. Hansen, Developer

Focus on the client

When you first take the plunge to become a freelance consultant and experience the many facets of the job, it can be overwhelming to figure out where to begin. With more than 10 years of experience as a freelance consultant, Hendrik Hansen has a clear notion of what it takes for him to get off to the best start:

“Before I arrive in the client’s organization, I always try to form a general view of the project. What are the challenges, and how do I best prepare for when I start. Maybe I have to read up on something or prepare in a more technical manner. For example, the financial domain may have some products that you need to learn about. For this, it can be an idea to try out the platform, so you get an idea of what the business is all about.”         

Although it might seem obvious that you should prepare for a new project, it is about how you can bring value to the client. It is especially important that you work from the base of the client’s terms: “In the beginning, it is important to listen to their expectations to your role and how it is expected you carry out the work. Although you might want to get started as quickly as possible, it is a good idea to sound out the situation and comprehend what your role actually is, who you will work with, etc.” 

Be flexible

You should be attentive to the client’s needs and, thus, figure out what your role in the organization will be. In relation to this, it takes a great deal of flexibility to work as a consultant:

“I always make sure to be as flexible as possible when I either start or finish a project. As an example, it could be to arrange with the client that they can contact me after my contract expires if they have any questions about the project. I always ensure to hand over the project properly, and that my work is incorporated in the organization. It gives the client a kind of security to know that help is at hand even after the project has ended, and they appreciate this. So flexibility is definitely advantageous.”         

Therefore, it is important that you are dedicated to the organization and to the work you deliver. You have to show some interest in the organization and the challenges it faces: “You have to be more than the person who shows up from 8-16 and work with no further interest. Basically, you need to put some feelings into the projects you take on. It is about knowing yourself enough to be able to know in advance if a project is not right for you. Otherwise, you are wasting the client’s time.”    

Get inspired by others

The way to obtain this self-awareness is to feel your way and learn from experience. Make sure to use any opportunity to learn from other, more experienced in the field: “When you are new in the line of business, it is rewarding to start at a place where you are challenged, but I also found it very beneficial to be around people with a great knowledge that I could draw on when I experienced those inevitable problems you come across as a freelance consultant.”

Especially when you are new, it is important to be around someone who can inspire you. It can be challenging to take the plunge from being permanently employed to working as a freelance consultant, therefore, it is only an advantage if you can draw on other people’s experiences. For Hendrik, who was already in the consultant line of business, the transition went smoothly when the right freelance project came along:

I didn’t experience any pronounced challenges other than the obvious insecurity in not knowing when the next paycheck arrives, but that is just part of working freelance. You have to strive to help the client the best way possible while being honest, trustworthy, and flexible. Then you have good preconditions as a freelance consultant.”    

Who's who

Name:                        Hendrik W. Hansen

Age:                          42

Title:                         Computer Specialist, ProData Consult.

                                  - On assignement in Saxo Bank

Edu.:                         Computer Specialist, Lyngby Uddannelsescenter

Hendrik W. Hansen has worked as a consultant within software development and architecture since 2000 and has been a freelance consultant since 2004. In recent years, he has worked within the financial sector and has previously been on assignment in Danmarks Nationalbank and currently in Saxo Bank. Furthermore, he has also worked as team lead/scrum master.