As companies become increasingly reliant on IT, they must also be more strategic with their IT decisions. This means knowing which tech issues they should resolve first and when they should invest in new IT solutions, improvements, and upgrades. However, small- and medium-sized businesses like yours may have difficulty being more strategic since they cannot afford their own chief information officer. Fortunately, you can hire an IT consultant who can provide the necessary guidance and expertise that your company needs.
To help you select the right IT consultant for your business, we have listed six factors you should consider:
If they have relevant experience, the IT consultant would likely be familiar with your IT pain points and already have the solutions for these.
Experience with the same company size and industry
It is best to hire IT consultants who already have experience working with organizations of the same size and industry as yours. This is because the IT needs of a small business are very different from those of a large corporation. If the IT consultant has worked only with large enterprises, they might end up recommending solutions that are beyond your budget. The same goes with industry experience. If the IT consultant has worked only with law firms, they might have difficulty understanding the needs of a nonprofit organization. If they have relevant experience, the IT consultant would likely be familiar with your IT pain points and already have the solutions for these.
Ask the IT consultant to showcase a portfolio of their completed work. This will help you determine whether they have the expertise to address your specific needs. If the consultant’s work is mostly involved with rolling out eCommerce sites, they might not be the right fit if you need help setting up your organization’s IT infrastructure. Their portfolio will also give you an idea of what you can expect from them in terms of the quality of their work.
Related reading: Looking for an IT consultant? Use these tips to hire the right one
Certifications and affiliations
If the IT consultant claims they have industry certifications, check if these are up to date. Most software vendors require that you pass the exams of their current product versions to remain certified.
Moreover, ask if the IT consultant is a member of professional organizations in their industry like the Institute of Management Consultants. Such memberships demonstrate the IT consultant’s commitment to professional development.
A good IT consultant uses clear and simple language in communicating with clients. They are able to simplify technical terms to make them easy to understand by everyone on your team, including those who are not tech-savvy. Good communication skills also come in handy when dealing with IT vendors and other stakeholders. These will help them get the best deals and specs when purchasing IT solutions, for example.
Compatibility with your company culture
Since the IT consultant will be working closely with your team, their working style must be a good fit with your company culture. If, for example, your organization is strict on deadlines, then you should hire an IT consultant who values timeliness.
Before hiring an IT consultant, always check their references. Ask previous and current clients the following questions:
- What did you like and not like about working with the consultant?
- Did they get along with your staff and management team?
- While working with you, did they experience managing an IT emergency like a cyberattack or downtime? How did they handle it?
- Will you hire them again in the future?
- What advice can you give me so I can successfully work with them?