"Teach Yourself Consulting"
by Anna Hipkiss
Reading history and reviews
Finished on 7th June 2010A bit of background reading (having recently worked as a software contractor), I wasn't sure about this book when I picked it up at the library - my previous experience with the "Teach Yourself" series had been a pretty poor Java book - but Anna Hipkiss seems to have a substantial background in consulting and has talked to a lot of respected figures, including the late John Harvey-Jones (of "Troubleshooter" fame).
It's fascinating stuff. Right from the start Hipkiss establishes that in choosing a consultant, clients value the qualities of integrity, reliability and credibility ahead of expertise: essentially they have to feel that they can trust you and that you'll get the job done. So while practical points such as report-writing, giving presentations or running a business are covered, much of the book is concerned with cultivating woking relationships and negoitating potential pitfalls.
As well as her own advice and anecdotes, and those provided by well-established consultants, Hipkiss also presents many example scenarios to illustrate her points, and it was these that particularly impressed me - these most often felt like difficult situations that you could imagine encountering for real. It also made me re-evaluate my own experiences, especially with regard to working with others in a collaborative environment. So while I don't imagine that this is the definitive guide to consulting work, I think it is at the very least an excellent overview with some valuable insights.