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Consultant vs contractor - getting help on your digital project

Consultant Vs Contractors Getting Help On Your Digital Project

What is the difference between a consultant and a contractor? And why would you need one or both in your digital project?

There may come a time—or you might've already reached the point—where your digital product needs some external support. The next step is finding the right people on the outside to help. But that can be tricky if you're not quite sure who to approach when outsourcing work. And if you're not clear on the difference between your options—consultants on the one hand and contractors on the other—it can be even more challenging to know where to start.

Consultant vs contractor 

First things first: before we get into the nitty gritty of which one is right for you, let's break down the difference between working with a consultant and working with a contractor.

Contractors tend to be considered as work for hire - a tactical engagement. Usually they join a project when a company needs more resource, for either a finite amount of work or if the task is new and undetermined. 

Consultants meanwhile, are not about having an extra pair of hands to fill in for an everyday role. Instead the hire of a consultant is a strategic decision, in order to help define the problem they are solving. The choice of consultant is based on their specific knowledge and experience - skills that will bring expertise to a specific problem. The company hiring usually doesn’t know how to do it and wants to learn. 

In a way, consultants build from the top downwards, and contractors are building from the ground upwards. So while their services might look like they’re overlapping, that top-down, ground-up difference in perspective is key because it shapes how the two forge, develop, and nurture consultant-contractor relationships. 

If you want a simple take away at this stage: contractors sell their labour, consultants sell their experience. Contractors build security by doing a good job, consultants invest in relationships and learning. 

Sorry to interrupt…

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What makes for a good consultant?

Hugh Macleod author of Ignore Everybody: and 39 Other Keys to Creativity, copywriter, and cartoonist, created this visual: 


You can solve the biggest problems and challenges of the world when you realise how to link up knowledge. It’s the connections between those dots that can fuel creative thinking, spark new ideas and clever solutions. Whilst the overall picture is of one collaborative system or one digital roadmap. 

Although, practical experience can be a little more chaotic than in the above depiction. For example, changing project requirements may alter connecting routes which can have a knock-on effect to another - and so forth. However, with the right experience, the right skills and the working principle of ‘connecting the dots’, projects will hold together. 

Which is best for your digital project?

If you know the problem you are trying to solve, and how the solution will address it, a contractor can help you. Contractors have the tools, resources, and knowledge working with digital projects to deliver results.

If you're looking for guidance and expertise on business decisions and to  build big-picture strategies, it might be best to involve a consultant. Consultants can help you frame the question, explore answers and devise a roadmap to get there. 

Finally if you’re looking for more of a cyclical review within your overall digital strategy and product development then opting for both might be the answer!

Here's how we do it at Fluent


Fluent is a technology consultancy made up of industry specialists and experts in digital product development. Our approach is flexible, led by your needs, and focused on getting you the best results. We operate as your consultants in a pre project phase, with a strong in-house team for project execution and delivery. Whether that's to act as outsourced engineers, to work alongside contractors, or to mesh with your in-house team.

In terms of our pre-project service, it's there to allow us to flesh out your project aims and determine how we can support you best. Think of it as the making of your digital roadmap. Together, we'll:

  • explore your project's possibilities;
  • advise on your current challenges, and;
  • adapt the systems you already have in place so that they can fulfil their potential.

From there, our designers and engineers roll up their sleeves and get to work on the solutions we've identified for your digital products and services. 

So, if you have already reached the point where your project needs some external support and want a tailored service to meet your goals, our digital product experts are here to guide, strategise, create, design, or build for your project.

Get in touch to chat about how we can help you with your digital project.

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