Worcester IT Consulting: How to Choose an IT Consultant
Worcester is one of the important gateway cities in the Commonwealth. It is just an hour away from other major cities like Boston, Hartford, and Providence. It boasts a vibrant economy and emerging tech scene, which are attracting startups – as well as a young and educated workforce. The city as a whole is expected to grow in the tech scene by 67.77 percent in the next few years.
For SMBs trying to make it big in Worcester’s flourishing economy, technology can make all the difference in the world. A highly efficient IT infrastructure can improve your customer service, cut costs, streamline your business processes, and increase network security. In short, it helps you cross all T’s and dot all I’s required to run a successful business.
However, technology keeps changing rapidly. Unless you are a specialist, you can’t always make the right technology choices for your business. In other words, just like your car needs a mechanic, your business needs an IT consulting specialist.
What is an IT Consultant?
An IT consultant is an information technology (IT) expert whose primary responsibility is to provide you with the technologies your business needs. With remote work taking over, the demand for third-party IT consultants is growing. The revenue of the IT consulting market in the U.S. was forecast to reach $471.28 billion by 2022.
Compared to an IT service provider, the consultant plays a more strategic and advisory role. They also bring a higher level of expertise to the table.
They use their IT expertise and knowledge to:
- Identify what areas of your business can benefit from IT.
- Demonstrate how the said technology will impact your business.
- Choose and implement suitable IT solutions.
An experienced IT consultant helps you align your technology strategies with your business policies. They act as a mediator between the business and technology side of things.
The Benefits of Choosing an IT Consultant
A robust IT infrastructure is essential to stay relevant in a digitalized economy. Unfortunately, owning a full-scale IT department is too expensive and time-consuming for many small and mid-sized companies.
Outsourcing IT consulting is a great way to save time and money while getting access to a higher level of expertise. But that’s not the only benefit of hiring an IT consultant. Here is a list of what your business stands to gain by hiring an expert IT advisor:
- Hiring an IT consulting firm gives your business a competitive edge. The IT experts keep track of all the latest tech advancements, helping you quickly find new growth opportunities.
- It increases your team’s productivity. The experts will help you build faster and better functioning business processes.
- The consultant also takes care of the financial side of IT. It leads to cost-effective IT implementation. In short, your IT expenses become more manageable and justifiable.
How To Choose An IT Consulting Firm
Although hiring an IT consulting team is necessary, it is often a daunting task. But, there are a few ways to ensure you find a reliable consultant. Here are a few key factors to consider:
The ever-growing digitalization is forcing businesses to innovate rapidly. And you cannot innovate without in-depth and up-to-date technical knowledge. Obviously, this has to be your primary consideration when outsourcing IT consulting. What is the point of hiring a consultant if they lack the required technical expertise?
More importantly, you need to be ready to assess the technical knowledge of the IT consultant. It is better if a technically well-versed member from your team can talk to them. Also, ask the IT consultant to furnish relevant certifications.
For example, if you are looking for an Azure cloud solution expert, it’s better to hire someone with a relevant Microsoft Azure certification. Most professional consultants would be willing to share these details. Just be sure the consultant’s technical knowledge is good enough to serve your business needs.
Support For a Hybrid IT Environment
With new technologies popping up like mushrooms, most businesses are bound to have a hybrid IT network. It often comprises multiple technologies, vendors, hardware, and software. The consultant must have experience working with multi-vendor and multi-tech IT environments.
Now, the IT consulting firm also needs to be vendor-neutral. This is a critical consideration. You don’t want to be stuck with an outdated technology just because your consultant likes or works with the vendor. Remember, your business needs always come first.
Most businesses, especially SMBs, tend to hire inexperienced IT consultants or startups to save money. This penny-wise and dollar-foolish strategy can ruin your business in the long run.
Inexperienced IT consultants probably can’t provide you with the latest and suitable technology. If anything, you would end up being a Guinea pig, wasting a lot of money and time in the process. Local businesses should always work with a Worcester IT consulting firm with relevant work experience under their belt.
- Preferably work with a consultant having experience in handling businesses of a size similar to yours.
- Make sure the consultant has worked in the industry for a significant length of time.
- They must have experienced staff on the payroll.
Don’t hesitate to ask the consultant for references. Customer references and testimonials are an excellent way to gauge their work experience.
Flexible IT Consulting Approach
Flexibility is equally important for two reasons.
- First, every business faces unique challenges, which require customized IT solutions.
- Second, the IT industry is constantly evolving, making it necessary to provide innovative solutions.
You must choose a service provider who can deliver both. Never work with a consultant that forces you into a cookie-cutter package. You will end up paying for services you don’t need, which is a waste of money. Moreover, you may not get the services you need when you actually need them. It can bring your productivity to a screeching halt.
Another less recognized but quite common problem is communication skills – or the lack thereof. Your IT consulting team must have excellent communication skills. They should speak your language. As in, they should use simple language instead of technical jargon when talking to you.
Usually, consultants use technical language or terms with the best of intentions. However, it might only add to your confusion, which will cause delays in finding the solutions you need.
Moreover, the consultant should communicate proactively. They are the ones with the latest IT knowledge and resources. They should reach out to you with the latest technology or information whenever required. The consultant also needs to be available round-the-clock if necessary, especially if there is an emergency.
Ability to Understand Your Challenges
Even if a consultant has worked in your industry, it doesn’t guarantee they can understand your challenges and needs. And if they can’t understand your business, they can’t provide you with the right solutions.
You need to find a consultant who is willing to invest time and effort in understanding your business. As mentioned earlier, IT consulting spans both business and technical aspects of your company. So, the consultant needs to know how your business works and the challenges it faces. They should be well-versed with the industry standards and regulations.
When looking at a consultant’s work experience, find out what innovative projects they have done. It can help you understand how much the consultant was involved in getting to know their clients. As you are looking for a long-term partnership, this is a very important consideration.
Professional IT consultants are plentiful. But not all of them are in your area or even your time zone. In the hopes of working with the most suitable consultant, you may want to hire someone from a different city or even state. However, this could backfire.
IT consulting is not entirely remote. You will need to talk to your consultant face-to-face at some point. Sometimes you may require on-site support. In such situations, only a local consultant can come to your rescue.
Besides, local consultants are well aware of the regional economy, market trends, business culture, and tech development. It may not seem like much in the beginning. However, these small things are crucial for providing good overall service. The bottom line is, working with a competent Worcester IT consulting company would benefit businesses in or around Worcester.
For most companies, particularly SMBs, the cost is a critical factor. If cost savings is your only goal when outsourcing IT consulting, go ahead and hire the cheapest consultant you can find. But remember, you get what you pay for. The cheapest IT consultants often tend to cost more money in the long run as they fail to provide good service.
However, this doesn’t mean you should hire the most expensive consultant either. You would probably end up paying more than you can afford. Besides, you might end up paying for services you don’t need.
You need to be realistic and find an affordable Worcester IT consulting provider with a good track record. Be upfront about how much you want to invest in IT. It will help the consultant to plan the solutions accordingly.
Moreover, work with a consultant that maintains pricing transparency. Find out how much will be the consultant’s fee and what services it will cover. Most consultants will charge a flat monthly rate. However, you will have to pay separately for third-party subscriptions and services.
Over to You
Outsourcing your IT needs to expert consultants is a great way to avoid painful and costly IT problems. It can also help you save money and time, which you can invest in growing your business. However, finding a suitable IT consultant can be a challenge, especially if you are not tech-savvy. The good news is following these eight tips can quickly help you find a consultant that fits your budget and business needs.
Why do you need to be careful when choosing an IT Consultant? Let’s find out together.
Marco is the owner and founder of NetLogix, Inc. a Managed IT Security Services firm that has been helping small businesses by providing an innovative and unique blend of managed IT services throughout New England with expertise in Insurance, Legal, Medical & Professional Services. Learn more about Marco and NetLogix here.