A consulting software engineer is a computer expert hired by a customer to work with a software development team to create a specific computer program or application. This individual has responsibilities with both the customer and the software team. He or she must oversee the team and ensure the job is getting done properly and on time. In addition, the engineer must stay in contact with the client to provide updates on progress and field any requests for changes. An engineer must also perform programming work and independently update his or her education to stay current in the field of computer engineering.
When a company needs a computer program created, but does not have the capability to produce it in house — e.g., a grocery store in need of new inventory software — a consulting software engineer is brought in to work with a computer design team to ensure the process goes smoothly. The consulting engineer first learns what the client needs in its software and oversees the design team to ensure those goals are being met. The engineer monitors deadlines, budgets, reviews the software to make sure it is meeting expectations, and sets goals for the team.
Another important duty of a consulting software engineer is to act as a liaison between the software developers and the client. It is the job of the consultant to report on the project's status to the client in plain language so that non-computer specialists can understand. If the client demands changes, it is the consultant's job to determine if those alterations can be made and give the new orders to the software team. Because the software engineer is getting input from both sides of the operation, it is important to have extremely good communication skills.
Utilizing computer programming skill is also an important element of this job. A consulting software engineer must have a high degree of programming understanding and frequently must write code if a problem presents itself that the design team cannot overcome. An engineer also tests software to ensure it is working properly and reports any bugs or defects to the design team.
Staying current on technology and programming techniques is another important duty of this job. Attending classes and seminars to further education is important for a consulting software engineer. Staying up to date on trends, issues, and tactics ensures that the client is getting the best software for its specific needs.