Considering Consultants: Things to Look for and Avoid in an IT Consultant


January 11, 2016

We all understand the rate at which technology is expanding and evolving. For IT directors, it can be daunting to even try and stay abreast of new technological concepts let alone determine how they work, how they integrate, and which would be the best solution for their environment. There isn’t enough time in the day to become an expert on every virtual desktop interface (VDI) software and public cloud options and the myriad of other solutions available.

In this landscape, IT consultants fill an important role. They enable an IT director to access knowledge for a specific product, service, or project, thereby ensuring proper provisioning and deployment of the best solution currently on the market.


Working Backwards

The best consultants work backwards. They start with the end result. Statements like, “I want this application to perform 25% better,” are perfect launching points for conversations with consultants. From there, the IT consultant can assess the existing environment, see what other applications are in use, and discover what aspects can be improved to yield the desired result.

At the highest level, there are two types of projects that warrant the input of a consultant:

  • Complex Integration Projects: Technology doesn’t always integrate as well as one might expect, and the marketing collateral for any one product could be filled with heavily caveated scenarios or single-point solutions. Certain products may only work together given a number of very specific circumstances. An IT consultant can cut through the ambiguity and marketing angles to provide experience-based advice on integration and use.
  • Agnostic Point of View: Given the breadth of technology manufacturers and providers, finding an unbiased opinion on a subject can be difficult. If the in-house storage specialist has worked with NetApp storage for the bulk of his/her career, it should be no surprise that NetApp is his/her recommendation when asked. A consultant will have experience with multiple manufactures in a given technological area. This will provide them the knowledge and freedom from bias to perform an objective assessment of the situation.


Considering IT Consultants

Being a successful IT consultant is about skills, integrity, and work-ethic, and prospective clients should look for these attributes in their consultants before signing any contracts. However, these qualities can be difficult to pinpoint based on a website or short conversation. We recommend the following when researching an IT consultant:

  • Certifications: We are lucky to operate in an industry based on certifications. Research what certifications from top manufacturers the IT consulting firm has earned. These should be badges of honor for consultants, and if this information is difficult to find or lacking, it is a red flag.
  • Range of Specializations: Within the consulting world, there is a balance that must be found. With too few specializations, a consultant will not always have the diversity in skillset to develop the most cost-effective solution. At the same time, if the range of specializations is too vast, it can be difficult to stay abreast of every industry advancement. A spot somewhere in the middle is ideal.
  • Customer Reviews: The internet has provided us a wealth of customer experiences with virtually every brand in business today. This is no different for consultants. Look around the web for any online reviews or experiences and note the things the reviewer has to say. While online reviews have their own brand of bias and provide only one side of a story, overarching messages will be apparent and an insight into a company’s culture can be gleaned.

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About Mindsight

Mindsight, a Chicago IT consultancy and services provider, is an extension of your team. Our culture is built on transparency and trust, and our team is made up of extraordinary people – the kinds of people you would hire. We’ve always prided ourselves in delivering the full spectrum of IT services and solutions, from design and implementation to support and management. Our highly-certified engineers and process-oriented excellence have certainly been key to our success. But what really sets us apart is our straightforward and honest approach to every conversation, whether it is for a local business or global enterprise. Our customers rely on our thought leadership, responsiveness, and dedication to solving their toughest technology challenges.

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