There seems to be a fair bit of confusion from business owners around the term IT Consulting. They may be justified, because a lot of folks that work in the space do different things, and they all call their jobs IT Consulting. I wanted to shed some light on what it is and some of the ways a quality IT Consultant can benefit your business.
Definitions and Use Cases
IT Consulting at its core focuses on advising organizations on how to best use their IT resources to accomplish their goals and objectives.
Typically, this arrangement is a fit when a company wants to get external objective advice about their IT solution. It can also be to access a resource that is highly skilled in one area of IT when they don’t have those skills internally. IT Consultants can also be used for a specific project or engagement where hiring additional help for a single project isn’t practical.
What do they do?
IT Consultants can create reporting and documentation. This typically comes as some sort of analysis on your current system with a goal in mind. They could be taking a close look at your current data protection strategy and offering advice on how to improve it. Its possible you want to review network security, or a specific compliance such as HIPAA.
They would get access to the current network, do an analysis of current systems, report on the current state, and then make recommendation on how you can improve the solution and achieve organizational goals. This usually comes in the form of a written report and presentation/discussion of findings with stake holders.
Other initiatives where you may bring in an IT Consultant are more project based. Maybe you need a major system overhaul, or server migration. They would pitch in to scope out the project and design the new system based on the objectives you set for them. Then present those plans for your approval. Once approved they may also have a team that will do the actual work and follow the project through to completion.
Currently many businesses are migrating to the cloud. This has caused some serious technical challenges. There are many IT consultants that have made cloud migrations in all their forms into a career.
They help with Office 365 migrations, moving servers to Azure, and migrating on premise server-based systems to SASS applications. They scope the project, detail a migration path, and then assist with the move.
Another form of IT Consulting revolves around systems integration. This is where you have two disparate systems, and you want them to talk to each other. Accounting, and inventory are separate applications, but need to talk to each other to unify internal reporting. Maybe you have an ecommerce website that needs to tie into your system for order tracking and shipping. There is an almost endless number of variations here. They do the software integration and frequently create custom reporting for the client at the same time.
Those in the IT Consulting field bring a wide range of skills to the table that can benefit your business.
- Advisory skills
- Technical skills
- Business skills
- Communication skills
- Management skills
- Advisory language skills
- Business and management language skills
- Technical language skills
This can be used as a compliment to your existing IT staff, and in many cases to fill a skill gap that you have currently.
How They Bill
Every firm will bill for their service a little differently, but it is common for consultants to bill hourly for their time. In the case of them doing work where hardware and software is required you will typically receive a written quote with costs for those items along with an estimated number of labor hours to complete the project.
This will typically come paired with a statement of work that outlines the project in detail and lays out a game plan of how the work is to be done.
If you find yourself needing help with any of the projects above hiring an IT consultant might be a good idea. They can bring a considerable amount of knowledge and expertise to the table that will help ensure that you achieve your business goals. This can be a very strategic action that helps propel your business forward.
If you have questions about a project or need consulting help or IT project design, give us a call today at i.t.NOW. We would love to discuss your project and put a plan together to achieve your goals.