It’s a fair question. Exactly what does an IT consultant do? Or the better question is this: Exactly what should an IT consultant do for your business?
The first step toward explaining what an IT consultant does is to define what an IT consultant is. Says techopedia.com:
An information technology (IT) consultant is an individual who works with organizations to provide advice, guidelines and a roadmap for sourcing, utilizing, and managing IT assets and resources. The consultant specifies best practices for using IT solutions and services to meet business objectives and solve problems.
Typically, an IT consultant specializes in one key area or domain. They can consult and help implement software, network infrastructure, cloud environments, and other IT business solutions. An IT consultant often works independently, although they can sometimes be affiliated with an IT consultancy or professional services firm.
The difference between IT consulting, IT services and software consulting
Another qualifier for the question, “What does an IT consultant do?” is to compare them to other consulting models. In this case, IT services and software consulting.
In a word, the difference is deliverables. Under an end-to-end IT services agreement with a business, for example, the deliverables of IT services are implemented products. A new cloud platform, a new accounting system, a new collaboration app and so on. Services can range from implementation and upgrades to system troubleshooting and support.
For software consultants, they chiefly identify the best software for your company and users. Their expertise comes in supporting recommendations with significant detail. For instance, a software consultant can project measurements for productivity gains, organizational efficiency, revenue, ROI and other metrics.
IT consulting deliverables are still more differentiated, in that they come down to assessments and advice. What does an IT consultant do in this case? They assess your business model, identify your business needs, and compile the best solution options. They then offer professional guidance to help you choose the best solution. IT consultants often align themselves with different IT services companies to help turn their recommendations into actions.
What does an IT consultant do?… a checklist
Specifically, if you turn to an IT consultant, you should reasonably expect them to:
Understand your business and its current, short-term, and long-term business objectives — knowing every situation and IT solution is unique.
Comprehend your business’s history and culture as well as its inner workings.
Build strong working relationships and transparent lines of communication with leadership and key IT stakeholders.
Analyze your existing IT infrastructure to identify new or upgraded functionality needed to meet your objectives.
Recommend IT solutions and services based on requirements. A consultant should further report on prevalent IT solutions and industry trends (VoIP, the cloud, remote workers, etc.)
Define the scope, timeline and expected cost of a project.
Orchestrate the implementation and admin process for new technologies and solutions.
Help your organization and employees with change management, system and user administration, training, and initial support.
A day in the life
Think of IT consultants as undertaking strategic or operational missions. Along with advising on business needs and IT issues, they might also help develop a system prototype or application to address a particular need.
To execute a project, an IT consultant might also plan several steps or phases to ensure the project’s success. They could begin by interviewing managers, employees and IT staff to get input and collect data for solution proposals. They could then analyze the data they’ve collected to formulate recommendations and subsequent action plans.
Ultimately, the results of an IT consultant’s analyses should be the holy grail by which a business chooses the best and most cost-effective technology solutions.
5 things to look for in an IT consultant
An analytical, and creative, mindset.
Experience — they’ve been in the business successfully over a period of time.
A track record that reflects adaptability and expertise.
References from other businesses the consultant has worked with.
Excellent communication skills, attentiveness, and responsiveness.
What does an IT consultant do? They help make your business better.
Visual Edge IT is dedicated to seeing your business succeed and grow. Working with one of our skilled IT consultants ensures that your organization has everything it needs to do just that.
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