5-Easy Steps to Choosing The Right IT Consultant
Updated: Jul 21, 2020
Working with an IT consultant is crucial for small businesses in the digital age.
Why? Because decision-makers may have no idea how to implement the right systems and software for their business goals without professional guidance. They could make bad choices and be stuck with technology that holds them back, instead of empowering them to achieve their best.
Choosing the right IT consultant helps new and growing companies take advantage of the best technologies and tools. But how do you find the best consultant for your business and budget?
Follow these 5 easy steps to get started.
Outline your IT needs and long-term goals
Think carefully about the IT issues affecting your business. It may be that your employees rely on outdated systems that affect productivity and performance. Perhaps your in-house IT technicians lack the expertise (or the time) to upgrade your computers or software to accommodate new services you plan to offer.
Security could be a particular pain point for your small business. Data breaches may expose employee and customer information, while ransomware or other common types of cyber attack can lead to severe disruptions. Sadly, 60 percent of small businesses close permanently within six months of a cybersecurity breach.
Whether you’re concerned about security, inefficient systems, lack of reliable on-site support, or anything else, consider what changes you want to see. Defining what you actually expect an IT consultant to do for your company is key to an efficient partnership.
Experts will find understanding your business and recommending effective solutions much easier if you’re clear about your expectations.
Research reputations and gather recommendations
Research is one of the most important steps in finding the right IT consultant for your small business. A firm can create an amazing website and pitch well, but you need to look a little deeper to make a smart choice. Take the time to do a reputation check on any consultancy team before reaching out to them.
Reputable, trustworthy firms typically feature client testimonials on their website, so it’s worth looking for these first. Feedback on social media and review sites can help direct you to the strongest consultants in your area. Reviews from small businesses in your niche may be a good indicator.
And don’t forget to ask business associates, affiliates, or partners for recommendations. Referral programs are a popular way to connect with reliable firms.
Define your budget before making contact
Knowing how much you have to invest in your IT is critical before you reach out to a potential IT consultant for your small business. Working to a tight budget can impose severe limitations on your options, but a consultant will find helping you much easier from the start if they know how much you have to spend.
You’ll also be able to narrow your search, as some IT consultants have rules regarding the clients and budgets they work with. Avoid paying more than you’re comfortable with to hire a consultant that’s outside of your ideal price range.
Yes, their reputation could be stellar and their reviews outstanding, but you don’t want to leave yourself without the funds to channel into other areas of your business down the line.
Remember to leave enough room in your financial planning to cover the consultant’s fees, too. These vary from one firm to another, so get a quote as soon as you can.
Ask the big questions
Small businesses should ask some important questions when choosing the right IT consultant. These include:
● How well do you understand our niche/industry and the services we provide?
● What’s your approach for explaining technologies and software you recommend to people with limited IT knowledge/experience?
● Have you worked with other small businesses in the same niche/industry, and if so, can you share any information on the results?
● Can you provide us with the names of existing and former clients, so we can contact them for further insight?
● What’s your approach to customer service, specifically your availability or guarantees?
● What security measures do you tend to recommend and how are these superior to those we have in place already?
● How will both parties communicate, and how often?
● What benefits can we expect to see after hiring you as an IT consultant, both in the short- and long-term?
These are several examples of important questions to ask, but it’s by no means an exhaustive list. You’ll have your own ideas and ground you wish to cover.
You may find answers to your questions on the firm’s website, so check their service pages, blog posts, etc. before reaching out for further information.
Consider response times
The best IT consultants offer a reliable response in emergency situations. You want to know you can call on a friendly expert to help you if you suspect a hacker has breached your network or you experience service disruptions the night before delivering a major project for a client.
And it’s simply not good enough if an IT consultation is available for a limited time each day. Having access to a 24/7 helpdesk is incredibly important to minimize the risk of serious downtime, and offers invaluable peace of mind.
Speak to local IT consultants about round-the-clock availability. Ideally, they’ll deliver personalized advice built on an in-depth understanding of your business, infrastructure, and likely issues.
This reduces the amount of time you can expect to wait for a solution, as opposed to calling a helpdesk run by a team with no idea who you are or what technology you’re working with.
And consider how quickly a consultant can provide on-site guidance if required, too. This can make all the difference between success and failure in an emergency.
Choosing the right IT consultant for your small business can be daunting the first time, but you’ll make the process easier on yourself and your team if you follow these 5 simple steps.
Looking for reliable IT support from a team with decades of experience in the Greater Toronto and Southern Ontario area? Get in touch with NETWORTH today and try us for FREE!