A Different IT Consultancy

An interesting half conversation on Twitter (the other half is protected) led Jono Ferguson (a member of Brick Alloy) to tweet:

@handmethepanda @benwalding @michaelneale build it for and by technical people. Talk to @dpp about @BrickAlloy

Which prompted me to write a little about Brick Alloy.

Lawyers and Accountants

Lawyers and accountants have varying sized practices from solo practitioners to thousand lawyer firms.

Something that lawyers and accounts do differently than IT consultants is that the firms are run by the practitioners and the folks who meet the client and sell the client and interface with the client are also the people who do the actual work. Yes, there are rain makers... the partners at the law firms that bring in a lot of business, but all of the rain makers that I've ever met (I'm a lawyer by training and was married to a lawyer for more than 10 years) is also an excellent lawyer in her own right.

Why, then, do IT consultancies have sales people?

Brick Alloy

Brick Alloy is a boutique IT consultancy with members spread across the world.

We focus on greenfield projects and on really hard problems (scalability, security, dynamic business process, real-time analytics).

We're a small team of folks who have all worked together in other projects, know each other, communicate well, and respect each other.

We develop business through word of mouth because each member of the team is well known and well respected... because individually and in various configurations we've delivered excellent software, systems, and results in open source and proprietary projects.

We are individually and collectively sales and marketing... and most importantly delivery... and delivery is marketing.

Every member of our team interacts with the client. We all (the team, the client's team) see the same things (checkins, ticket closes, discussions around a ticket, group discussions, etc.) so there's very little fidelity loss between what the client wants and what we're building. And there's absolutely no "ignore the pile of warm bodies behind the curtain" going on.

We don't have to "scale" Brick Alloy because it's about working with people we know and trust. Brick Alloy is about doing things that make us feel good, make our client's happy, and make a comfortable living for each of us. This is a different set of goals than most businesses that seem to want to grow in profits, which, for a consultancy, means growing in size. And because our goals are different, we can walk a different path... a path that leads to more personal satisfaction for each team member... but at the cost of potential financial upside as well as a lot more risk for each team member.

Not for Everyone

The Brick Alloy team all has skin in the game. A client doesn't pay all the bill, we all take a hit. There's no work for a month, there's no paycheck that month. When the bubble pops, our rates and our paychecks will go down. Like partners in a law firm, we are all taking risks and believing in each others' ability and likelihood of generating more of the kinds business that will make each and all of us happy.

This kind of risk taking is not for everyone.