Choosing to bring on an IT consultant is often an easy decision, but choosing the right person to trust with your business’ technology needs can be much more challenging. This is especially true for business owner who doesn’t have a lot of experience with technology themselves. However, there are many ways you can ensure the person you choose is trustworthy and knowledgeable enough to bring into the fold.
Factors to Consider When Choosing an IT Consultant
Knowing what you are looking for from a consultant is the first step. If you aren’t sure exactly what you need, finding someone who specializes in it is going to be impossible. You also want to be certain this person is a good fit for your company and needs. There are a few things to think ask yourself when considering various options. Experts from Exyte suggest considering these points.
Diversity of Skill Set
One of the first things you want to determine is how diverse a specific consultant’s skill set is. When you are looking to bring in a consultant, you likely want someone who has skills that aren’t already available on your in-house team. A consultant can provide those things without the need to hire more full-time employees. However, making sure they can manage what you need is crucial.
Before you decide on one consultant over another, consider what skills are available by the individual or firm. You should also check in on how long these individuals have been doing work with the various skills they have. When it comes to IT, experience is extremely important. Someone who has been in the industry for decades will be more knowledgeable and capable of handling a job quickly right when you need it.
Understanding of Business Goals
Once you know whether the consultant you are considering has the skill set you need, you can move on to other questions. The next thing to concern yourself with is whether the consultant firm is able to understand the specific goals of your business. Most IT consultants are capable of implementing technology, but not all can understand the business side of things.
Any IT solutions that you take on through a consultant should be undertaken because there is something you are attempting to accomplish for your business. There should be a reason that you want to make a change or start a new project rather than simply doing it because it seems as if you should. When you have a well-versed consultant around, this person can help you evaluate how a specific solution will help your business succeed against competitors.
Ability to Communicate with Your Team
It’s crucial that the person you select as an IT consultant is capable of communicating well with your internal IT staff. However, it’s equally important that your consultant is comfortable working with your line-of-business and C-suite executives. Even if you aren’t sure that this person will have much contact with these individuals, they should be completely capable of it when the need does arise.
Technology is something that serves as a base for a business, so any consultant you choose should be capable of bringing together the decision-makers in your business and getting input from them on changes being made. Begin capable of keeping stakeholders on the same page is a skill not every consultant has. The one you choose should be able to do so without a second thought.
Option to Manage or Augment Your Current Services
While this may not be the case right now, things may change in the future and you may decide you prefer to turn over all or some of your IT to a consultant rather than having it handled in-house. You want an IT consultant that you trust who could one day take this position if it is needed. A consultant is meant to be a trusted advisor who can do these things, whether you end up needing them or not.
As an example, when in a managed services relationship, you should be aware of who is in charge of notifying you if an outage occurs. If this is something you have to do on your own, you aren’t getting what you should out of a relationship. You should have the option of being entirely hands-off with a consultant who can handle any emergencies that come up. They should also be able to come up with a solution and put it in place right away.
A consultant who has management experience in their field team can also be a great choice in case you ever need to augment the skills of your staff on a long or short-term basis. Having an IT consultant who is familiar with your environment can step in immediately when you need them to manage the situations your team cannot.
What to Expect from Your IT Consultant
As you can see, a lot goes into choosing the right consultant and ensuring they can manage the work you have for them. You want someone who has a high character that is professional at all times. This person should have a great deal of experience in order to be capable when helping with opportunities and challenges your business is facing.
Beyond that, this consultant should have creative problem-solving skills, so you aren’t forced to step in when things get rocky. A great consultant will have impeccable communication skills both orally and in writing. If you can’t communicate with the person, you aren’t going to succeed. This person should also be someone you can trust since you will be divulging details about your company. It’s a tall order to choose a consultant you can count on in the long term.
Sure, you could hire any consultant, but you’re putting yourself in a position where many things could go wrong. It’s a better option to do your research and put time into finding the best possible consultant who can handle everything you need. Even if it doesn’t seem like it matters now, it will in the future.