Growth Means Digital
No matter your business, you likely are in it to grow and that likely means upping your digital footprint. From developing a customer-facing application to customizing software that enables your business to do things more efficiently, companies are in desperate need for IT, digital and process knowledge. IT consultants are bridging the gap, helping organizations get to where they want to be and beyond.
Medium puts it this way, “Clients need help transforming to embrace a digital future, understanding new technologies, and implementing new products to engage their customers. The amount of time, energy, and effort required to modernize legacy technology is massive.”
This modernization is often overwhelming for any organization, even as the pressure to innovate demands a rapid response. For them, the only answer is to seek help from an experienced IT consulting firm.
3 Tips on How to Choose The Right Consulting Firm
With the demand for digital and technical help increasing, so too are the numbers of IT and digital consulting firms and agencies. At one count, there are more than 700,000 consulting firms of some kind in the U.S. Choosing the right one for your company can be stressful in and of itself. How do you know if you’re going to get what you really need, especially if you aren’t entirely certain of what it is you need?
Related: Why Digital Doesn’t Always Mean Technical
Find A Partner, Not A Company
The best advice we can give is to think of this as a long-term investment in your future. As you’ve already seen, keeping up with the competition in this digital age is an ongoing effort. It’s rarely one and done. This is a marathon, not a sprint, so find an IT consulting firm that you can work with for the long haul.
This isn’t as easy as it sounds, however. Many IT consulting firms are really good at one thing. That’s great if you only need that one thing, but what happens when your needs shift or you need a broad range of services? You don’t want to have to keep hiring new IT firms. Instead, find a comprehensive consulting firm that can not only provide guidance on a wide variety of needs but has resources of their own and access to outside resources and strategic partners to actually execute. This will save you significant costs and time while also eliminating the need to rely on multiple third parties that may not agree or collaborate well.
Because this will be a long-term relationship, you want to find a company that will listen before they give advice. Seems simple enough, but you’d be surprised how many consulting firms storm into a business and assign the same strategy to one company as they do to every other company they work with. IT and digitization is not a one-size-fits-all solution. In fact, digitization and software must be highly customized if it’s meant to be a differentiator. Your relationship with your selected consulting firm should be a personal one. They should take the time to get to know you, your team, your employees, your business processes, your culture, your appetite for change, your current and desired customers, your goals and vision and your infrastructure – before they lend any advice or assign any resources.
This knowledge is not just accumulated when you sign on the dotted line, either. It’s a relationship, which means it’s ongoing. If you want your consulting firm to provide guidance and resources on more than just current projects but ones you didn’t even know you needed, they need to be a mainstay in your business. Only then can they identify areas of improvement, opportunity, and even potential issues that if addressed early, can save you costs and headaches down the line.
Think Big (and Small)
When hiring a consulting firm, remember that you want to look at the big picture. It’s common for companies to hire a firm for a single project but then realize they need a lot more than they expected. In the same manner, you want to think small because not all projects are big. You’re going to have small ones pop up all the time and need a firm that is comfortable with both ends of the spectrum.
What if you already have an IT team and just need to augment it for the long or short term? Your IT consulting firm should be able to handle that, too. What you’re looking for here is flexibility. You should be able to rely on a single firm to provide comprehensive IT consulting on all kinds of projects (large and small), fill in any gaps in your current IT team with full-time or contract-based skilled IT resources, and offer their own technical experts to manage a project. With these capabilities, you can have peace of mind that no matter the digital direction your company goes, you have an IT partner standing by to help you get there.
Related: Tech Talent Pipeline: How to Build a Sustainable Model
Choose A Firm with Local Connections
There are plenty of national IT consulting firms out there, but most companies don’t need that level of expensive service and would do better with a local partner. Why? Because this is an ongoing relationship and a local team will have access to local talent.
Sure, many projects can be accomplished over the phone, but when you’re talking about technology, it’s always beneficial to have someone onsite. When your IT partner understands your culture and mission, knows everything about your current technology stack, and has a personal relationship with you and your team, they can be much more effective in their recommendations and execution. A long-distance relationship won’t get you the face time you deserve and is hardly ideal in building a lasting relationship.
Then, there’s the local talent aspect. Here’s why that can play a pivotal role. Let’s say you have a project that needs an immediate specific skill that your IT consulting partner identified. If they have local ties to talent, they can get someone in the door much faster than if they have to convince someone to relocate. Expenses increase and the project is likely delayed. If they have a relationship with you and your company, they’ll be able to pinpoint the ideal person faster, knowing they will be a good fit with your culture as much as they bring a needed skill to the table. They’ll also know what your local market offers such candidates and can help you craft an attractive package to get them on your team versus the competition. Again, this is a massive time saver as the hiring process can often be lengthy.
Keep in mind, not all IT and digital consulting firms are experienced with IT and digital staffing. If you really want to streamline operations, find one who offers both. You get to work with one company that will be able to assess your needs, execute the project with the right resources, and manage the delivery. It’s a turnkey solution that makes the digital world a little less scary.