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I have 4 years of experience working as a developer in the consultancy space and have had the privilege of working for several industries; mostly for the private sector - Oil & Gas, FinTech, Retail, Transport, Marketing, etc

These businesses had complex operations and extensive documentation of their business models. In most of these projects, I did not get to wrap my head around the business quite like I would've liked. I'm recalling frustration from not understanding said biz in a timely manner and contributing in a limited way. If I had more time to understand how a business works in full depth I could see myself solving more problems, eradicating redundant processes and perhaps pushing innovation on a whole other level.

Anyone got any advice on how I can become better at wrapping my head around business - principles, models, operations, systems, insights, having that vision etc Anyone ever felt the lack of business acumen inhibits the development/engineering process?

I do believe coding a solution with great business acumen is key.

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  • You could get an MBA degree. But I am not convinced that it would actually be helpful unless that is the specific niche you are selling into. Knowing your customer's needs is important, but that's often less about their business than about their profession.
    – keshlam
    Aug 13, 2023 at 8:42
  • Or go work for a small company where you can see the whole company processes.
    – David R
    Aug 13, 2023 at 14:12

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Then don't be a "consultant". Consultants are brought in for a short period of time to bridge some gap. Maybe not enough manpower for one project, maybe not enough expertise in a technical area for another. They are not paid to hang around once that gap is closed.

As a consultant, you do get pushed into many new situations and you learn how to adapt fast, but you never get real depth with anything you do. You don't stay long enough, to learn the business in depth and you don't stay long enough to see your own technical suggestions mature and evolve. And if you are not around long enough to see longterm results, your ability to judge your own work and learn from (aka gain deep experience) it is seriously diminished.

If you want to learn about a business and what it does, work as an employee of said business, multiple years. Stay long enough for you to actually experience your technical solutions and how they hold up two or three or four years later, not only on the day of the contract deadline date.

Please note that originally, "consultant" meant someone who has deep expertise in a certain area and was brought in to be consulted on problems and then suggesting a solution and helping the workers execute that solution. Consultants would have extensive work experience in the area themselves, so much so that sharing that experience with others was worth more than doing the job themselves.

Today, anybody can and will call themselves a "consultant". If you "consult" today, you are very likely actually just on body lease from an agency. You won't be consulted on important decisions, because you are just hired out as a worker for rent.

If you want in depth experience, stay with one thing for real. Not transfer to other jobs or projects or get rented to a different company every year.

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  • @JoeStrazzere: True, but in those domains the consultant is usually hired for specific expertise in either a technology or in that customer's area of business; unless you are going to specialize in business management software there may not be much "business" knowledge per se that is useful beyond a single gig.
    – keshlam
    Aug 14, 2023 at 16:31
  • Makes sense, thank you @nvoigt really puts things in perspective about the meaning of consultancy. Aug 15, 2023 at 7:54

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