If your company will soon be conducting interviews with IT consulting companies, be prepared for all IT companies to seem the same in some major ways. Number one, all IT consultants will sell you the idea that their solutions are the best. Number two, every IT consultant will tell you that the up front cost is worth the long-term rewards. And number three, almost every IT consultant will seem like they know what they’re talking about, their knowledge of the IT arena making it difficult for you to prove otherwise. So, when every IT consultant that you interview begins to seem like God’s gift to the IT world, how do distinguish an IT company that walks its talk from one that just talks and talks? According to those who have seen the best and worst results that the IT world has to offer, there are three criteria that separate great IT consulting companies from bad ones.
Needs Assessments change management
Before a consultant proposes specific solutions, he or she must conduct a needs assessment of your company to know exactly what those solutions should be. Needs assessments commonly focus on the following areas, among others: human resources, competition, company revenue, market share and positioning, customer feedback, management feedback, staffing and employee turnover and company mission, goals and objectives. Basically, a great consultant examines your company from every angle to arrive at solution that won’t throw a wrench in the gears somewhere down the line. If a consultant doesn’t propose a needs assessment, it probably means one of two things: the consultant wants to make a quick sale or the consultant is unfairly judging your company based on companies that he or she served in the past.
Because almost every company has a different mission and set of goals and objectives, as well as a different past, the first duty of an IT consultant is to ask lots of probing questions that pertain to every area of a needs assessment. Just as your company begins the IT consulting process not knowing what solutions to expect, an honest IT consultant begin the consulting process not knowing what solutions to offer. But the more questions a consultant asks the more the ideal solution comes into picture. Make no mistake: a consultant that doesn’t ask many questions isn’t someone who has it all figured out, but someone who has a false sense of confidence, if they even care about the best solution in the first place.
Sometime during the course of your company’s IT consultations, you may come across a consultant who only offers solutions that you’ve already heard of (i.e. off-the-shelf software and hardware). While off-the-shelf products can usually offer companies a measure of success, they aren’t tailored to meet a company’s specific needs as revealed by an in depth needs assessment, which is the point of hiring an IT consultant in the first place. In many cases, a consultant who peddles off-the-shelf- solutions works for a company that has a business relationship with the maker of those solutions, meaning that the consultant is more of a salesperson than a true IT consultant.