Few small businesses have the financial or human resources to maintain their own in-house IT department. Nonetheless, having cutting-edge technology on your side is critical for enabling growth in today’s highly competitive marketplace.
Without the right solutions and the high-level expertise required to implement and manage them, you’ll end up being left behind. Which is why it’s so important to hire the right IT consultant.
What Is an IT Consultant?
An IT consultant is a technical specialist who’s usually brought in to help implement and manage mission-critical projects with tight deadlines. Their responsibilities may include, but are not necessarily limited to, aligning technology with the needs of your organization, analyzing potential issues with your current infrastructure, and building long-term IT strategies that focus on continual improvement.
When Should You Hire an IT Consultant?
There are many reasons why you might want to hire an IT consultant, such as to ask for advice pertaining to technology challenges, to diagnose performance bottlenecks, or to implement newer and better technologies. In some cases, a business might hire an IT specialist on a short-term basis to oversee a specific project, while others might hire someone on a long-term basis to take advantage of their expertise over time.
Hiring vs. Contracting
One of the first and most important decisions concerns the employment status of the IT consultant. Some consultants work exclusively for specific companies, while many others freelance with multiple companies. However, a third option is to partner with an IT consultancy firm that has a team of experts for multiple clients. This option helps reduce red tape and offers a far more cost-effective solution.
Whichever route you go down, you’ll need to start by thoroughly interviewing a consultant or representative of the consultancy firm you’re thinking of working with. Be sure to get a thorough overview of their processes, and make sure they’re familiar with your industry and the unique challenges it faces. You’ll want to know everything there is to know about your consultant’s methodology before signing any contract.
Building the Right Contract
It’s imperative that every detail of your partnership is covered in-depth in the contract, and that any potential legal pitfalls are addressed and resolved prior to signing the agreement. If you’re hiring an IT consultant on a freelance basis, for example, you’ll want to make sure to cover costs, milestones, billable hours, deliverables and deadlines, and you’ll want to agree on who will be responsible for covering any external expenses.
If you’ve decided to partner with an established IT consultancy firm, then these matters should be simpler. They usually provide SLAs (service level agreements) that state their obligation to provide guarantees of service availability and response times. Finally, you’ll also want to sign agreements to protect your confidential data and intellectual property, no matter whom you’re dealing with.
Follow Your Instincts
First impressions count for a lot, so it’s important to follow your instincts and make sure there is clear communication throughout the entire process. Above all, you’ll need to work with someone you can entrust with your data, which is likely the most valuable asset in your organization.
Remember, an IT consultant is not meant to be a salesperson who only recommends solutions that cost more money – they’re a business partner you should be able to rely on to make technology do more for your business.
At Total Tech Team, we’ve been helping organizations since 2009 by selecting, designing and implementing technology solutions that align with their unique goals. If you think it’s time to transform your business for the better, give us a call today.