IT Consultation

How do you go about choosing someone to help your company achieve its IT goals when you don’t have the resources to do it internally? It is really quite simple – do your upfront homework and maintain your involvement through the life of the project. Perhaps this is obvious, but we’ve found that when you follow these four main ideas, you’ll end up with a successful project.

First, when considering a professional services firm for your IT project, start by checking with others – both inside and outside of your industry. Talk to your peers and ask them about their results when engaging with IT Consulting firms. After that, ask each of the consulting firms that you are considering for several references of clients where they have recently completed projects. Then take the time to call those references to get a clear understanding of how easy the firm was to work with, how well they worked within the company’s internal culture and if they got the job done on-time and on-budget.

Second, once you’ve completed your review of the references and have awarded the project, begin by clearly outlining your expectations for the project. Let’s face it anytime you bring in outside resources, it changes your internal culture. Ensure that the consulting firm has a clear understanding of your corporate culture, how you operate, and how you wish them to operate within your business environment. This will go a long way towards alleviating any “silly” issues that will definitely arise if the consultant isn’t aware of how you manage your business.

Third, once this foundation is completed, take a hard look at the project plan and ask yourself if it is truly feasible. For instance, it is important to ensure that all resources – whether human or systems – are available to the consultant per the project plan. We normally begin our IT projects with a series of interviews to get a clear understanding of the existing business processes and the people and technology that perform them. This means that in order for us to do our job as efficiently as possible, we need to be able to meet with the people or access the systems per our defined project schedule. If you ensure that this happens, you’ll be well on your way to getting your project completed as efficiently as possible.

Finally, most consulting firms will schedule project progress meetings as often as it makes sense (based upon the project). It is important for you (or someone that you designate on your team) to be engaged in these meetings as they occur – even if they aren’t involved in the details of the project. This will assist you in identifying any pitfalls that may occur as the project progresses. Further, this will allow you to ensure that what you are doing continues to make sense – you are achieving what you set out to accomplish. We’ve seen both time and money saved when the consultant was able to effectively shift gears mid-course and keep the project on track as problems were averted due to these meetings. We’ve also seen re-work having to be done because the client could not make the meetings and issues were found after applications were written or systems were implemented. Most of this re-work can be eliminated by all parties staying engaged in project progress and ensuring that the end result is going to work as desired.

Following these simple suggestions can help you both start and finish projects successfully. In addition, you’ll do so while keeping your staff focused on their important work and ensuring that you meet or exceed your IT goals.