As a CEO or COO in your business, there comes a time when you need to assess your technology, how it affects your workflow, its cost versus ROI, and whether you need to make changes. However, if you don't have a background in IT strategy, it can be time-consuming to attempt a digital transformation in-house.
While the right IT solution can provide a competitive edge and help you achieve your business goals efficiently and cost-effectively, the time and resources required to research and implement these solutions are considerable.
To offset the opportunity cost of doing this all yourself, bringing on an IT consultant or consulting firm will allow you to leverage professional expertise without exhausting your internal resources.
What are IT consulting services?
When we look at IT consulting services, we are actually viewing an array of services related to information technology. As the field has expanded over the past few decades, technical expertise has become more specialized. IT professionals can provide guidance into various topics, including:
- Analytics and big data
- Business continuity
- Cloud services
- Disaster recovery
- Network operations
- Workforce productivity
Not only are there various niches for IT services, but consultants can provide insight into many different aspects of your technology infrastructure. For example, they can audit your architecture and make recommendations on potential software for your IT needs. They can also provide implementation planning if you already know what solutions you need.
Certain consulting firms focus on specific industries. After all, benchmarking for fintech can be radically different from biotech or hospital technology. This can also be ideal for your business needs, as you'll want someone who understands your specific industry standards.
How much does IT consulting typically cost?
IT consulting costs aren't set in stone and are affected by the scope of individual projects. The most common rate structures are:
- Project-based rate – The consultant will review requirements and propose an approximate amount for the entire project. While less flexible than an hourly fee, the advantage in this case is knowing the cost of the service upfront.
- Hourly rate– While hours can be limited or a rough estimate provided, the cost of the project won’t be known until it’s completed. An hourly rate can make it easier to assess the quality and value of the service as it’s being provided.
- Value-based rate – The consultant will charge based on the potential revenue the client will receive from their digital transformation.
However, it's not uncommon to pay up to $250 per hour for a consultant. While you can find deals from firms or individuals starting out in the business, you don't want to cut corners. The point of hiring an IT consultant or consultancy firm is to save time and money. The last thing you want is to spend more because you didn't hire the perfect fit for your business.
What is the process for evaluating an IT consultant?
When shopping around for an IT consultant or consultancy firm, it can help to understand their responsibilities and scope of work. Your IT consultant should be able to:
- Understand your business goals, requirements, and policies.
- Determine your IT project scope, costs, and timeline.
- Provide insight into best practices and recommendations for your industry.
- Offer assistance in finding, hiring, and dealing with the right vendors.
- Direct your IT strategy deployment and execution.
- Solve issues related to implementing new technology.
The most important takeaway is the importance of ensuring that your consultant has a wide network of vendors and some experience in your specific industry.
Investing in IT consulting services may appear to be just another expense on the balance sheet, but working with the right specialists should help you boost operating efficiency, reduce overall costs, and achieve company objectives.
The right IT consultant will allow you to focus on what matters – business growth – instead of wasting time trying to figure out the best technology solutions on your own.
To find an experienced IT consultant, you'll want to tap into your network, review industry-specific benchmarks, and browse LinkedIn as well as consultant marketplaces. Once you have done some research and established your main technology objectives, reviewing the talent pool should be a cinch.