Hiring an IT consultant can be a smart choice for a growing business. But a business without a strategy will have a hard time benefitting from a consultant.
Read on to find out how to develop a business strategy and what you need to know before hiring an IT consultant.
Business Strategy 101
Think of your business strategy as your future plan. Most business strategies consist of a documented plan showing your business’s growth goals and how you will achieve them.
A well-defined business plan has a clear vision for the future in mind and actionable methods for achieving this vision. Such a plan enables you to better gauge your company’s performance, establish a vision/future direction, and identify your brand’s competitive advantages.
To develop a business strategy, you’ll want to consider what your goals and vision are. Spend some time reflecting on your priorities and how your company is performing today.
Be sure that you understand the difference between a feasible goal and an unrealistic goal: a feasible goal is something that considers where you are now and assumes a reasonable trajectory for the future.
Bringing in an IT Consultant
Having a well-defined business strategy in place allows you to better understand the tools your company will need. You’ll also be able to better realise what you can hope to gain from an IT consultancy.
IT consultants serve a variety of key functions: they can bring in technical expertise, identify ways that your company can save time and money, as well as find more efficient ways for your company to obtain results.
How to Identify the Right IT Consultant for You
The trick is identifying the right IT consultant for you. Consider:
- Your budget. Can you afford an IT consultant? Seek multiple quotes.
- The consultant’s level of experience and credentials. Aim for a well-reviewed and moderately experienced consultant.
- What do you hope to gain from this consultancy? Understand what you want before you ask for quotes or hire on a consultant. Do you need servers? Equipment updates?
You’ll also want to be on the lookout for warning signs. Such warning signs may include:
- The consultant provides too good to be true claims about the quality of their service compared to their budget. If the price seems too low for an unusually extensive level of service, it is likely too good to be true.
- Inconsistent quotes. You may receive multiple quotes. A wildly inconsistent quote that cannot be explained by the IT consultant is a bad sign.
- Poor community reviews. Listen to what their former clients have to say.
- Putting their branding ahead of yours. Your IT consultant should consider your business’s needs first, not their marketing opportunities.
- Lack of actionable steps/no original ideas. If your consultant does not provide you with any original ideas or only provides vague, unactionable advice, you will not get much out of this consultancy.
- Too many/too few clients. Look for a balanced mix. If your consultant has too many clients, they will have little time to spend on you. If they have too few, consider their reputation in the community or level of expertise first before hiring.
Again, always do your research. Getting any quotes or claims of service in writing is imperative as well. You will also want to make sure you have realistic expectations about the quality of service you can hope to receive. Don’t expect your consultant to fix all of your company’s issues overnight but do expect that they’ll be a major asset.