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5 Questions To Ask When Choosing An IT Consultant



Hiring an external resource to support your business growth can seem like a daunting task. With countless providers out there, how can you be sure that you are bringing in the best person for the job?

5 Questions To Ask When Choosing An IT Consultant

#1. What is your previous experience in this area?

As when hiring an employee, it is always important to get as much background information as possible. Be sure to ask the consultant for detailed overviews of previous projects or ask them to provide client case studies. Don’t be afraid to look for references also. A good consultant will have no problem with you contacting previous clients for information about their work.

#2. Do you have the support of an external team?

Although the role of the IT consultant is to integrate into your business and work alongside your staff, it is also important that they are supported by their own team where possible. Many large-scale IT projects require the input of various people along the way, so always establish if there are others available to lend a hand when necessary. Having access to the diverse range of talent, knowledge and skills will only serve to enrich the work being carried out by your consultant.

#3. Where can I expect to see returns on my investment?

Although technology is essential to the running of every business, many management teams are reluctant to invest in it. While this often frees up cash-flow, it can lead to problems down the line when things go wrong. IT can be costly, so be sure the consultant can clearly demonstrate the areas that a return on investment can be seen. For example, while a move to the Cloud may be more costly than a traditional IT set up, benefits such as improved backup and disaster recovery will outweigh the costs should something go wrong.  Your consultant should clearly set out the ways in which you will see measurable returns on your IT spend.

#4. How familiar are you with my industry?

When checking references and case studies, it is also important to get an idea of how much industry knowledge the consultant has. Ask them how well they know your business and your industry as a whole, and how comfortable they are working with the key applications used in your office.

While understanding highly specialised technology is critical to the role of the consultant, it is also important to ensure that they are knowledgeable about the overall needs of your business. A good consultant should be able to leverage technology in keeping with the trends in your industry, all the while ensuring the high-level objectives of your business are at the heart of everything they work to achieve.

#5. Can you clearly illustrate how you will add value to my business?

As a key stakeholder in your business, the consultant should be able to clearly demonstrate the real value that they can add. For example, this could focus on projects that improve business processes, enhance engagement with clients and third parties or make internal collaborations more effective. The success of projects such as these should be measured in line with the overall business goals so that added value and return on investment is clearly identifiable.

Images: ”expert consulting – text in 3d blue glass cubes with white letters, business concept  / Shutterstock.com

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The Author:

Finian is the Technical Director of Dublin-based IT Consultancy house, E-MIT Solutions. Having joined E-MIT in 2007, he brings over 10 years of diverse experience from key business sectors including market research, print and banking. Finian oversees all technical operations, client management and partner relationships and has a strong focus on exploring and introducing new, innovative solutions to the E-MIT Solutions client base. Finian also specialises in developing IT strategies and regularly acts as an in-house consultant to clients in the legal and non-profit sectors. He holds a B.Sc. degree in Computer Applications from DCU and is also a member of the Irish Computer Society. http://www.e-mit.ie

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.ahaingroup.com/ Niall Devitt

    Hi Finian, these questions are great. The ROI question for me also relates to when. Also, the answer should be realistic. I’ve unfortunately seen and heard of consultants making wild guesses as regards ROI, which neither helps them or the client in the long-run.

  • finiannally

    Thanks Niall. ROI is a key factor in any discussion we have with clients. Too often, people view IT as a baseline service rather than something that can bring value to the business and it is important that we highlight this where possible.

  • http://www.rtmlguru.com/ Rtml guru

    I would like to suggest you focus on additional tips like Client-specific factors,Relationship factors Consultant methods ,conflict of interest issues,Create the proper relationship.

  • http://www.leverageitc.com/ LeverageITC

    The answer to this question gives you a measure of the consultant’s
    honesty and points out weak spots you’ll need to strengthen.

  • http://www.terryculkin.com/ Terry Culkin

    Great post. I also I believe in dividing up consultants saves money. Look for experts in different areas and avoid using the same consulting company for everything. This is done in the medical field, your general doctor isn’t going to be performing brain surgery on you.

  • Michael V

    These are great guidelines, Finian! I would also like to add another factor which is proper skill-to-needs matching. Finding skilled people to match the needs of a client and establishing a long term engagement is a good practice for successful consulting companies. This is one of the objectives of Mynd Consulting, which over the years have made clients satisfied by building trust. Visit them at http://myndconsulting.com