The Nomadic Developer

Surviving and Thriving in the World of Technology Consulting


Learn the Real Secrets of Succeeding as a Software or IT Consultant in Any Economic Climate!


Despite economic cycles, the idea of using technology to make a company more efficient and competitive–or perhaps even reach a new market– is appealing to all but the most desperate and cash-starved companies. More and more often, those companies look to technology consultants to fulfill their needs.


There are real advantages to being a consultant. You make contacts with a lot of different people; you get exposure to many industries; and most important, unlike a software developer in the IT department for a brick-and-mortar company, as a technology consultant, you are the profit center…so long as you are billing.


Consulting can be hugely rewarding–but it’s easy to fail if you are unprepared. To succeed, you need a mentor who knows the lay of the land. Aaron Erickson is your mentor, and this is your guidebook.


Erickson has done it all–from Practice Leadership to the lowest level project work. In The Nomadic Developer, he brings together his hard won insights on becoming successful and achieving success through tough times and relentless change. You’ll find 100% practical advice and real experiences–his own and annotations from those in the trenches. In addition, renowned consultants–such as David Chappell, Bruce Eckel, Deborah Kurata, and Ted Neward–share some of their hard-earned lessons.


With this useful guidebook, you can


  • Objectively assess whether the consultant’s life makes sense for you
  • Break into the business and build a career path that works
  • Avoid the Seven Deadly Firms by identifying unscrupulous technology consultancies and avoiding their traps and pitfalls
  • Understand the business models and mechanics that virtually all consulting firms use
  • Master secret consulting success tips that are typically left unstated or overlooked
  • Gain a competitive advantage by adding more value than your competitors
  • Continue your professional development so you stay billable even during bad times
  • Profit from both fixed-bid and time-and-materials projects
  • Build a personal brand that improves your resiliency no matter what happens


About the Author     xiii

About the Annotators     xv

Acknowledgments     xix

Foreword     xxi

Preface     xxv


Chapter 1: Why Consulting?     1

Chapter 2: The Seven Deadly Firms     27

Chapter 3: How Technology Consulting Firms Work     59

Chapter 4: Getting In: Ten Unstated Traits That Technology Consulting Firms Look For     97

Chapter 5: What You Need to Ask Before You Join a Technology Consulting Firm     125

Chapter 6: Surviving     157

Chapter 7: Thriving     181

Chapter 8: Your Career Path     207

Chapter 9: Avoiding Career-Limiting Moves     231

Chapter 10: Is Consulting Right for You?     259

Chapter 11: An Anthology of Sage Advice     273

Appendix A: Consultopia: The Ideal Consulting Firm     311

Appendix B: A Consulting Lexicon     325


Index     343

  • Pearson Education; April 2009
  • ISBN 9780321606402
  • Read online, or download in secure PDF or secure EPUB format
  • Title: The Nomadic Developer
  • Author: Aaron Erickson
  • Imprint: Addison-Wesley Professional

About The Author

Aaron Erickson is a veteran technology consultant, writer, and technical evangelist with Magenic Technologies, based out of Chicago. He has spent the majority of his career catering to the individual needs of companies of all sizes. His strategic consulting focus has been centered around delivering high-value solutions that break new technological ground and bringing added value to both up-and-coming clients, as well as those who are already established.


For the past 16 years, Aaron has worked with leading-edge companies, providing prescriptive guidance to both the knowledge workers–those who actually produce the software–as well as the management side of the business, including CEOs, CTOs, and other executive staff. His experience has led him to do business with a variety of clients across financial services, supply chain, and insurance, vertical industries. His consulting mantra in recent years has been technology matters, but business results matter more.


Aaron is frequently invited to speak at events such as TechEd, VSLive, and .NET user groups on topics ranging from the highly technical (F#, C#, LINQ, and Functional Programming), to more business-focused topics that open the floor to an exchange of ideas, best practices, and observations about the specialized world of technology consulting.


Aaron has been a Microsoft MVP since 2007. He has written for .NET Developers Journal and InformIT. He blogs at both as well as for Magenic at Readers can follow him on Twitter at