Organizations across the United States are on track to spend $462.4 billion on information technology (IT) consulting by the end of 2020.
For many of these businesses, leveling up on IT is a must-have strategy for survival. However, since many companies can't afford (or don’t need) a fully funded in-house IT team, partnering with IT consulting companies is more tenable. But these relationships can only bear fruit if you work with the right consulting firm.
Keep reading for seven essential tips that can help you hire the right IT consulting firm for your organization.
1. Know What You Need
Knowing what your organization requires a consultant to do helps the contractor channel their energies in the right direction. Therefore, you should first develop a strategic plan for your IT function. Such a policy helps any incoming consulting firm to know the boundaries within which they are to operate.
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Furthermore, mapping out your IT needs before bringing on a consulting firm helps you articulate your objectives clearly. The more relevant information you can give a consultant, the better footing from which they can begin to serve your business.
2. Experience Working in the Industry
When you plan to hire an IT consulting firm, you are looking to tap into their skill. The in-depth domain knowledge that such a firm has is one of the critical outsourcing benefits that give your business a competitive advantage.
In light of this fact, you need to look beyond general IT experience to whether the company has worked within your industry. That's because each sector has its unique dynamics, and these place specific demands that an outsourcing partner has to fulfill.
When you bring on board an IT consulting company that’s familiar with your industry, there are other salient benefits you get.
For example, such a partner can go beyond providing the core services you contract them for, to giving you tips and ideas that can lift the efficiency of your processes.
That’s in stark contrast to when you hire a company that isn’t as well versed with your industry. Even if the firm has a culture of learning on-the-go, would you be willing to pay to be the guinea pig?
That only slows down your operations as you will need to take time to train such a service provider. Ultimately, you’re outsourcing your IT functions so that you can grow your overall productivity, not slow it down.
3. Excellent Communication Capabilities
You can't afford to hire an IT consulting firm that fails to communicate excellently. Why?
Any failure on the consulting firm's part to communicate will inevitably hold up your operations.
Even if such instances only occur here and there, over time, such slowdowns add up and can cost your business significant productivity losses.
If you’re looking to outsource your IT function, the chances are high that you would like to bring on more technical expertise. Imagine having to deal with a partner that doesn't communicate vital information you urgently require to run complex systems when you need it.
The result? Utter chaos.
When you’re interviewing several candidates to outsource to, pay close attention to how they communicate with you.
If at such a sensitive stage in the buying journey, the consulting firm isn’t communicating efficiently, chances are after you sign the contract, that will only worsen.
4. Adequate Capacity
Hiring a consulting firm with one (or few) professionals can be detrimental in certain circumstances.
For example, let’s say you hire a two-person team to head your outsourced IT efforts. You will likely not be the only client that this consulting firm is servicing.
A small number of employees means that the consulting firm won’t have the capacity to respond to an unexpected event.
If, for example, the unthinkable has happened and you need to get up and running fast, such a consulting partner will be an impediment.
The same applies to any equipment or software that is mission-critical to your firm. Can the IT consulting firm you hire turn on a dime to help you deal with a tech-related crisis?
Another less discernible but still material issue is if a consulting firm with less capacity can treat you as well as its large clients.
The truth is that when the chips are down, only the biggest clients get all the attention. You don't want to be the client the consulting firm decides not to prioritize when the need arises.
5. A Bullet-Proof Reputation
In as much as a wealth of experience is a non-negotiable critical requirement for an outsourcing partner, you also need to consider the reputation.
It does you no good if the IT consulting firm you desire to work with doesn't act professionally, no matter how skilled the workers - especially if the consulting firm will have access to your organization's sensitive information.
Speak to past clients to have a feel of the consulting firm’s reputation. You can also scour the internet for online reviews that shed more light on if the partner you want to outsource to is trustworthy.
6. Round-The-Clock Support
The only thing worse than not having an IT partner to outsource to is when they are unreachable.
Before you get into advanced talks with an IT consulting company, ask what level of support they plan to offer you. Ensure that any guarantees go on paper so that you can codify it in the service agreement.
Don't settle for a support function that is wholly or mostly automated. You want access to a live representative who can get into the weeds with you to troubleshoot promptly.
A nifty tip when you want to assess the readiness of a consulting firm's IT support function is to reach them at late-night hours.
As long as they don't have any idea you plan to reach out, you’ll get a fairly accurate insight into the level of professionalism of their support service.
You can't hire an IT consulting firm that charges more than what you can pay. Thus, you should never overlook asking for a complete breakdown of their service charges to assess the sustainability of partnering with them.
As you consider the cost, keep in mind that generally speaking, you get what you pay for. The cheapest IT consulting company may not always be your best option.
Partner With Competent IT Consulting Companies
Leveraging IT in business is critical. When an in-house team isn’t sustainable, outsourcing to IT consulting companies is your best option. As such, you need to learn what traits make for an exceptional outsourcing partner that can move your firm forward.
PICS ITech is an award-winning IT consulting firm driven by delivering exceptional services to small and medium-sized businesses. Talk to us today for IT consulting services that support your company's growth.