From IT strategy, to software development, to basic technology staff augmentation, technology consultants provide a lot of value for an organization. Technology consultants can play a huge role in your organization — they can fix major issues or help you create a strategy that will shape your IT infrastructure for years to come— or they can play a small role, lending a hand when your organization needs one or offering staff development.
Technology consultants are also increasingly in demand; a recent survey found that 50 percent of CFOs say they plan to bring in outside consultants in the next 12 months to help with their business systems. Why because they need "experienced professionals with hard-to-find, specialized skills," according to the survey.
Why do you need to engage a technology consulting company? And what do you need to know before you even contact them?
Why call a consultant?
There are many reasons why organizations might want to engage technology consulting firms. We covered some of the more urgent reasons to bring in IT consultants in an earlier blog post but there are other, more strategic, reasons to engage a consultant.
You should call an IT consulting firm if you need:
- Assistance with a project
- Staff augmentation
- Help with high-profile projects and tight deadlines
- Day-to-day support
- To support and enhance an existing technology platform
Let's get deeper into that list.
You need assistance with a project
One of the most straightforward reasons to call in a technology consulting company is simply because your organization needs another pair of hands, or maybe several pairs of hands. You may need to help fill a team or you may just need a consultant with certain skills for a specific period of time, a java developer for three months, for example.
If that's the case, you'd call a consulting company's recruiting team and tell them your needs so they can find the right people to help with your job.
You need IT staff augmentation
Your organization may have an IT project in mind but might not know how to get started with it. Or your company may not have the skills on staff to build the project. Or maybe you know you have a business challenge and you suspect technology can solve it but don't know exactly how. That’s where staff augmentation comes in.
If this is the case, you can call in a technology consulting firm to help with IT strategy or to build it from idea to application. A good consulting company will have a range of talent available to help you with whatever your needs are, from developers to IT thought leaders.
You need help with high-profile projects and tight deadlines
Have a big project — one that's getting a lot of attention from your company's leadership — that you need done soon? That's another reason to bring in a consulting company. Consultants can help you push that project through quickly and well, make you look good in front of your bosses.
Your organization needs day-to-day support
Not every organization is big enough to have their own on-staff support. In these cases, technology consulting firms can serve as help desks. Often an IT consulting company may offer ongoing support for a solution or an application they built for you but they can also be brought in to support other software or to serve as an outsourced IT department.
You need to support and enhance an existing technology platform
In the same vein, your organization may need help with an existing technology platform. A consultant can upgrade your platforms and software for you or customize that software so that it solves your specific business problems. For example, you may have invested in Microsoft but you may want SharePoint to serve as a portal for your employees. A consultant can build that portal.
Things to know before you call a consultant
Before you even call a technology consulting company, you should lay a little groundwork first.
For example, designate a person on staff, who will be the primary contact for the consultant and the owner of the product that's being built or worked on. That person will the be project's champion — it's their job to help drive your project to success internally, while and after it's being built. Remember, an IT consultant will only be with you temporarily. The solution they build? That will be with you for the long haul.
You should also understand that although technology consulting firms will do their best to get you an accurate estimate, custom software development is like building a house, and to be safe, it's best to budget a cushion of extra time and money for it, in case of unforeseen obstacles. You should also talk to your consultant about what will happen if a project does go over time and over budget before the project even begins. That way you know what the process is and can keep surprises to a minimum.
Lastly, and most importantly, you need to know exactly what business problem it is you're trying to solve and if possible, how you'd like technology to solve the challenge for your organization.
So before you contact a consultant, you should know as much as possible about what sort of help you're looking for. Then they can help you to the best of their abilities.
Ready to talk to an experienced consultant?