So you’ve arrived at the decision to hire an IT consulting services provider! This is an excellent opportunity for your company to find a trusted partner that will take the time to understand your business, your objectives, and has the expertise and strategic insights necessary to leverage technology and help your organization reach its full potential.
You’ll most likely find a wide array of IT consultants, but you want to make the RIGHT investment for your business and knowing how to narrow down your choices can give you the confidence necessary to ask the right questions and select the partner that best fits your specific needs.
What To Look For In An IT Consulting Services Provider
Knowledge/Expertise – Before you can really dig down into a potential partner’s areas of expertise, you should have a firm understanding of what your primary needs are – as there are some providers who service very niche specialties.
When seeking an IT partner, it makes sense to find one that can serve all aspects of your IT environment, rather than just a particular area. While you may have serious concerns about your cyber security plan (or lack thereof) and want to have a provider that is expert level in protecting your data and reducing the risk of threats, you should also be confident in their knowledge of the software and hardware that runs your business.
Generally speaking, areas of expertise to look for and ask about would be: cyber security, hardware and software.
An IT consulting services provider that will serve as a true partner should be prepared to assess your systems and make recommendations on how to make the best use of your current solutions as well as recommendations on how to enhance your processes and grow your business.
This means not only having knowledge of and the ability to troubleshoot issues with your existing software and hardware but being knowledgeable and forward-thinking about your future needs.
Experience – Look for a proven track record in areas that matter for your company. Knowledge and training are certainly important, but real-world experience should absolutely be part of the equation. How can you examine or quantify experience in IT consulting? Ask to see relevant case studies or references from existing clients.
Proactive Mindset – You’ll want to avoid the break/fix approach. Consultant companies that simply “react” to problems won’t have your best interest in mind and won’t be invested in your long-term success. In fact, they may actually be looking to take advantage of the “issues that come up” and your reliance on the need to get things up and running quickly again.
An IT consulting services provider that operates proactively will always want to figure out what went wrong and find ways to make sure it doesn’t continue to happen. They will work to become an integral part of your business – understanding your processes, finding ways to avoid downtime, saving money on unnecessary expenses and improving productivity.
Strategic Planning – Experience in strategic planning is a strong companion to experience with a proactive mindset. Instead of just putting a Band-Aid on what is broken or doing what is necessary to get you by, partners that are strategically-oriented will be committed to continuous improvement. If you’re inclined to think that continuous improvement results in higher costs, you may be surprised to discover that is not the case. When you work with a strategically-minded IT consulting services provider, the results should be greater organizational efficiency and more predictable costs. A partner with significant experience in IT strategy should be part of your long-range business planning and budgeting team. They will have experts on staff that will be able to recommend the right next steps to help you put systems and processes in place to help your business reach its maximum potential.
Support/Customer Service – This one probably goes without saying but top-notch service should be on your list of requirements. One of the benefits of outsourcing IT services is shifting the accountability to an experienced and reliable third-party. It would be difficult to fit that bill if the provider wasn’t trustworthy and committed to providing excellent service. Ask about availability, methods of and frequency of communication and again refer to testimonials and references.
The right IT consulting service provider will be the one that wants to learn your business, work alongside you to build strategies that align with your objectives and drive success. Not only will your systems be more efficient and your data more secure, but your employees will be happier because they’ll have more time to focus on their own tasks without worries of downtime and the added responsibilities that entails.