Business IT consultants have become an important part of our organisational culture. These days, small and medium-sized enterprises often lack the resources required to run an IT department of their own.
Aside from financial and logistical challenges, internal staff usually don’t have the necessary technical expertise. And even if they do, the overheads of facilitating a full-time IT team can prove to be out of reach. For this and several other reasons, many businesses choose to partner with an information technology consultant instead.
In doing so, they are able to leverage the knowledge and skills of experienced specialists who cost less to employ.
It’s not uncommon for companies to see efficiency and productivity improvements after investing in IT consulting services. Additionally, on-site teams are afforded more freedom to focus on core competencies. While the benefits go well beyond that, we should first clarify the exact roles and responsibilities of an IT consultant.
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What Does an IT Consultant Do?
Information technology consultancy activities mainly revolve around collecting and analysing data before presenting the best solutions. This is done with the goal of helping clients reach their objectives and targets.
For example, your priorities may be to increase performance or profitability. The IT consultant could determine that introducing new software platforms that deliver superior automation or affordability is the answer. Of course, you won’t be left in the dark from there. Your consultant can also assist with implementing and maintaining solutions.
Thanks to the wide range of services offered by consultants today, businesses have various reasons to work with one. Some of the most popular include:
- Assessing challenges and opportunities
- Seeking advice and recommendations on technical problems
- Finding ways to enhance team collaboration and efficiency
- Installing new hardware and software systems
- Getting temporary help in projects where permanent hires are unnecessary
The typical workflow of an IT consultant begins by interviewing certain stakeholders in your company. What they learn is then compiled and analysed so that they can formulate relevant action plans and suggestions. Along the way, the IT consultant will continue discussing solutions with you until an ideal option is agreed upon.
Here are a few of the duties and responsibilities that characterise IT consultancy:
- Recognising the goals and scope of projects from the client
- Understanding business principles and procedures
- Monitoring company devices and networks
- Corresponding with software engineers and IT support specialists
- Identifying potential issues and suggesting workarounds
- Travelling across the city or country to meet client needs
At the end of the day, it depends on who you partner with. Companies that deliver IT consulting services can comprise individual experts or entire teams of technicians. Some specialise in certain areas of consulting. They might focus on solution consulting, for instance, which involves activities such as:
- Revealing how to maximise ROI or user adoption
- Achieving application reliability through performance testing
- Ensuring security and compliance
Benefits of IT Consulting
How can a consultant help my business? You likely have an idea of what you stand to gain. Regardless, the following list highlights the sheer value that an IT consultant is capable of delivering in just about any company.
Our always-online digital world leaves no room for downtime. This is especially true when it comes to cybersecurity, where attacks can be carried out at any moment. Modern businesses need to be constantly vigilant and prepared to tackle any threats or emergencies that arise.
What’s great about IT consulting services is that they can take on the burden of being available around the clock. Their 24/7 service includes persistent network monitoring to detect and mitigate problems before they hamper your servers and productivity. Also, providers can tend to issues overnight or on weekends when in-house staff aren’t around.
What naturally draws many companies towards IT consulting services are the financial benefits. Providers typically offer flexible pricing structures, such as choosing to pay per-project or per-hour. Aside from improving cost control and management, an IT consultant can also save money that might otherwise be:
- Lost to downtime resulting from unsolved problems
- Put towards inferior on-site technology or infrastructure
- Spent on internal staff salaries and benefits
- Never earned due to stronger competition
- Wasted fixing security breaches and compliance issues
Whether to improve customer experiences, drive sales or develop better marketing campaigns, businesses are collecting an ever-growing mountain of data. Without the right expertise, assessing and managing all of the information can be difficult, not to mention time-consuming. Storing customer data also has privacy and security implications.
IT consultants can assist in both aspects. They have the resources that allow them to reference your data against external sources such as machine learning tools, government databases, and mobile patterns among many others. This leads to more productive and profitable operations.
Safety and Security
As we touched on earlier, cybercrime is an ever-present threat. And it doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the size or industry of your business. In fact, attacks on smaller and medium-sized enterprises are occurring more frequently than ever before.
Partnering with an IT consultant that specialises in cybersecurity can make a world of a difference to your level of protection against potentially devastating threats. An IT consultant is also an excellent source of knowledge and wisdom that your employees will find valuable when learning about security.
Freedom to Focus
What your staff may come to appreciate even more is their newfound freedom to exercise their talents and spend more time on tasks they genuinely enjoy. With an IT consultant handling the technical aspects of your business, internal workers are able to forgo the menial activities that drained their productivity and motivation.
While compelling on their own, these aren’t even the only ways a business IT consultant could benefit your business.
For example, consider the experience and expertise that you’d be gaining access to. Leading companies that provide IT support in London are immersed in the digital world and connected to industry partners. Their collective knowledge can be invaluable when it’s responsible for identifying trends and threats that may otherwise go unseen.
The same is true for important decisions such as hardware and software purchases. IT consultants are more capable of identifying the best solutions and calculating their return on investment.
Businesses that maintain successful relationships with IT consultants have an edge that keeps them one step ahead of the competition. Let’s not forget about your own employees, who will be more inclined to stick around and go the extra mile in their work.
Choosing an IT Consultant
Compelling as the benefits of hiring an IT consultant may be the actual hiring process is often complicated. It can be particularly daunting for smaller businesses that aren’t familiar with the technologies or scope of services. Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you’re partnering with an affordable and reliable consultant.
The first barrier is deciding where to begin. It’s helpful to initially define the budget, objectives, and timeline of your project. You don’t necessarily need to know exactly what you require, but having a clearer outlook is certainly useful.
From here, you should lay out the terms of your engagement with a Request for Proposal (RFP) document. These are fairly simple to create, especially with the wealth of examples available online. Your RFP should detail your expectations and criteria for selecting a candidate. With your RFP in hand, you can start getting in touch with consultants.
As you compare and explore your options, remember to assess the following factors:
- Experience and familiarity with businesses in your industry
- Pedigree in the form of awards and certifications
- Strong reputation and proven quality of work
- Reasonable and transparent pricing
Other than performing online research, you may also be able to ask other business owners in your industry for recommendations. Don’t settle until you’re confident that their specialisations and experience align with your needs. While not essential, sticking to local options is advantageous for several reasons. This includes:
- Being able to sit down for an in-person conversation
- Easier to communicate your exact requirements
- Potentially faster responses to requests in the future
- Local reputation is easier to judge
In some cases, looking abroad and opting for offshore consultancy services can be enticing as fees tend to be much lower. However, this comes at the cost of security risks and potentially inadequate levels of service. Overseas providers are also prone to language barriers and communication difficulties.
If your priority is to keep expenses as low as possible, you can still work with local consultants. The solution is to have them detail the specifications of your project before outsourcing the actual implementation to other providers.
Going back to your RFP document, you can submit it to a website where IT specialists bid on projects. You may receive a variety of responses and budgets. Needless to say, the lowest prices are low for a reason and cannot be expected to render high-quality work. Whatever your approach, be sure to contact the consultant’s previous clients.
All that’s left is to find your ideal business IT consultant. Soon enough, your business will be reaping the benefits and reaching new heights.
Expert IT Consultants in London
Our IT consultancy at totality services adds value and benefit to your organisation. If you are looking for a reputable, London-based IT consultant with the experience and expertise to keep your business running smoothly, please get in touch with our friendly team of experts for a no obligation chat.