CIO Magazine’s Jennifer Schiff recently interviewed IT executives to find out what questions customers should ask before hiring an IT consultant. Their answers are insightful and ones that you should be able to address.
According to Tabush Group's owner, Morris Tabush, customers should ensure a prospective IT consultant has experience providing services to their type and size of business. Morris explained, "An IT consultant who typically works with Fortune 500 companies will have a difficult time serving the needs of an SMB (small-to-medium sized business)—and a consultant who has been in the finance industry his entire career may not have the experience needed for, say, a manufacturing shop." Morris has been a successful New York IT consultant for many years, so his words of wisdom are definitely worth considering.
Some prospective customers will want a consultant who’s affiliated with a particular vendor, or is a certified partner of say, Microsoft or Dell. Then there are those who are looking for an “independent” consultant. If a prospect suspects that you’ll receive a monetary gain from a particular vendor affiliation, you may scare them away. These people will want to know that you’ll provide them unbiased advice. Additionally, they’ll want to know that you’re capable and comfortable working with their current IT system, hardware and software.
References are very important, and a smart prospective client will call a handful of them with specific questions like how you responded in an emergency situation. Others will go to social media sites like LinkedIn, Twitter and industry blogs to see what you’re all about and if you’re capable and reliable. And others will do thorough criminal background checks on you and perhaps your IT professionals. So make sure they are “squeaky-clean” as they are the face of your company.
Just as you would do when interviewing a potential hire, some prospects will want to see a sample of your work. You should be prepared to show previous work you completed and how it benefited your client. Also be ready to submit your staffs’ up-to-date industry certifications or accreditations, and your company’s membership in professional organizations as proof of competence. If you’re applying for government work you may need to have specific government or security clearances. Ensure you know what’s required before you invest a lot of time with prospects who may not be able to hire you because you don’t have the right credentials.
Prospective clients will want people-friendly service from your IT professionals, not just a “robot” who fixes things without communicating. Your employees, including management professionals, should be able to able to successfully convey information to a client and work well with their staff. And some prospects may even want you to use their measurements for success so they can assess your overall progress. If you agree to align with their methodologies and culture you’ll have a better chance of getting the job.