by Juan Robin II
Are you looking to hire a consultant for your company’s IT needs? Before you start looking and signing contracts, you should know what to look for in one.
Whether you want to hire an individual or an IT consulting company, it’s important to find the perfect fit of expertise and price. There are countless consulting firms out there who will promise you rocket-fast growth, but you need to do your own research to avoid getting ripped off.
Companies hire IT experts for all kinds of reasons, including to save money. Hiring someone in-house is often more affordable than hiring a consultant short-term. Another reason to hire a consultant is to train your teams on a new piece of software or technology.
Keep reading to learn 7 things you should consider before you hire outside help for your pressing IT matters.
1. Expertise and Experience
On a global market and with the Internet at everyone’s disposal, it’s easy to look like an expert. Many consulting companies will tell you the exact words you want to hear and lure you with professional-looking websites, promising videos, and highly targeted marketing. The truth is, finding a truly experienced consulting expert can be challenging.
Don’t let cheaper rates fool you. Do thorough research on any company that catches your eye before you make initial contact. Better yet, ask around for recommendations. This way, you’ll have first-hand information about the way they work and what results you can expect from them.
The consultant’s proposal will tell you a lot about their experience, style of work, and communication. If they listened to your needs, you’ll receive a customized proposal adapted to fit what you’re asking for. If not, you’ll get a one-size-fits-all template that won’t address your core issues.
The proposal should also cover the type of engagement you’ll have with the consultant. Will it be in-house, remote, or a combination of both? Are they available on a project basis or also for the maintenance period afterward? Will they train your teams or just the team leaders? These are all details you should seek to ensure clear expectations and deliverables.
Pricing is a tricky subject and many companies fall for cheaper services that end up costing way more than planned. Rates should be important, but not the main deciding factor when hiring consulting experts.
Will you need the consultant in the office full-time throughout the project duration or only a few times a week? This post will help you decide whether it’s more affordable to have an in-house or outsourced consulting team.
You can always negotiate prices with the company and most of the time, they’ll be happy to accommodate you. Bear in mind that in many cases, you get what you pay for. If you don’t get the results you hoped for, you’ll need to spend more money to get your desired outcome.
To avoid these situations, make sure you tell the consulting firm everything you’ll need upfront. Communicate your budget clearly when you ask for a proposal.
4. Availability and Project Timeline
Depending on the project size and requirements, you can hire long-term or short-term consultants. Talk about their availability and how it’ll fit into your project timeline. You may need to book them weeks in advance if they’re busy with other clients, so start looking ahead as much as you can.
Tell the consultant beforehand if you have a pressing deadline or you’re trying to land new clients and need the IT work done asap. This way, both sides can plan and adjust accordingly.
5. Communication Style
Effective communication is one of the key factors of successful collaborations. Both sides have to communicate their needs and requirements in order to meet each others’ expectations.
When choosing consulting firms or individuals, conduct a thorough interview with them whenever possible to see how they communicate. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions. After all, you’re investing a lot of money and they should be able to answer them clearly.
If you have any doubts about their work, talk to them about it. It’s important to see if the consultant will fit into your company culture and work well with the teams.
They should listen to your needs, implement them, and offer practical, customized solutions rather than a universal template. If a consultant truly wants to help your company rather than just take your money, this will be very clear in the way they communicate.
6. Maintenance Plan
Most projects will require maintenance once finished because this is when most issues arise and need immediate attention. Do your consultants have a pre-made maintenance plan or they’re only available for the duration of the project?
For companies, it’s better to have the same IT consultants solving the problems because they’re familiar with the software and company practices. If they don’t include maintenance in the package, ask them if they can create a customized package for you.
Aim for consultants that do include this in their services. Otherwise, you’ll need to find a different company to handle it and that’s an expensive and time-consuming process.
7. Security and Confidentiality
Before you hire consulting companies, pay special attention to security and confidentiality. You should have a contract that will outline these things, especially related to sensitive internal information such as customer data and intellectual property.
You should also add a confidentiality clause and have them sign an NDA because some of the consultants’ clients may be your direct competitors. Besides, all the processes and software that they use should be encrypted to protect the information exchanged between the two parties.
Now You Know How To Hire a Consultant For Your Company’s IT Projects
Whether you want to hire a consultant for IT training, software, implementing new technologies, or SEO, these tips will help you make the right choice.
Besides pricing, take note of the consultant’s communication style, their project proposal, and most importantly, their experience and expertise on the topic.
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