Choosing the right IT consultancy firm may feel daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. There are actions you can take to make sure you’re choosing the company that provides the best fit for your business. Naturally, the budget you have to work with will be an influence, but it certainly shouldn’t be the only one. You can treat your hiring process the same way you might hire a new employee. Simple steps you might take include shortlisting consultancies that seem to provide services you need that are within your price bracket. The location of the firm may also be an influence. When you have selected some potential consultancies, vet them using the processes outlined below. The perfect team for you should become clear.
Conduct a thorough interview
When you employ an individual, they go through a detailed hiring process that often involves skills demonstrations and interviews. Conversely, IT teams and consultancies are sometimes hired on word of mouth alone. A solid recommendation from a trusted source can go a long way but that should not be the only information that guides your decision. Invite representatives from your shortlisted companies to interview, so you can get a better understanding of how they operate and what they can offer.
Don’t be afraid to check back with references the company provides. See what you can learn about how the consultants work, personalities if it’s a smaller team, professionalism and skills. It’s worth enquiring with a few different references to get a well-rounded image that’s not based on a single person’s experience.
Check reviews and online
Spend some time online researching your potential hires. Investigate their online presence, including social media profiles. What are they focussed on communicating to clients? If they maintain a presence on professional networks, look for evidence of quality work and interaction with mutual friends/connections. If you find proof that the IT consultancy is well-connected with your peers, it will give you more places to source references and may give confidence that the company is well-regarded. Check their website to get a clear idea of what the company focusses on as a priority and core skills, and values. Get an idea of the size of the team and where they are based to see if they can really understand your needs, as well as the level of personalisation and continuity of service.
Be clear about what you want your prospective IT consultancy to achieve. If you have a clear understanding of your upcoming project, ask the shortlist of teams about similar projects they’ve completed in the past. Have they solved similar problems, and how? If they haven’t completed similar projects, they should be able to provide examples of parallel skills used in different areas.
Ask about internal vetting procedures
Consider asking the potential consultancies about their own security processes. As you will allow a consultancy into your own business IT environment, you must be able to trust that the individual workers have no ulterior motives. Vetting potential staff is all but expected in this environment, so don’t hesitate to enquire about background checks.
Test their technical judgement and get help
If you need to bring an IT consultancy on board, it might be because you don’t have the skills to solve the problem within your team. If that’s the case it can be difficult to judge what the interviewing teams are telling you. See if you can call in a favour from a colleague who has experience and can judge if you are being baffled or are receiving clear and straightforward solutions. If you do understand what’s going on, give them a test piece to complete, or ask how they might solve a simple problem that you have. The answers could demonstrate their willingness and ability to think creatively, and how they handle challenges on spec.
Make a shortlist
Conducting due diligence checks, interviewing different teams and following up references can be laborious, there’s no doubt, but it would be folly to conduct this process as a cursory exercise. Shortlist your top 3 teams that have pitched to you and go through the process with all of them. It may be a clear winner emerges from the background checks, or if it comes down to equal quality, then budget can take the lead without a fear of sacrificing performance.
Build trust slowly
Try not to hire a consultant or team when you’re under pressure to deliver a large project. Instead, select a team and give them a smaller task to complete. As they gain an understanding of your business and expectations, they can be tasked to more challenging roles. Investing some time will give them a grounding in your processes and will make larger, higher-stakes projects more secure overall because you won’t be backing an untested team with a critical project.
The process of hiring a new IT consultancy can be intensive. Cyber security, your online presence and the way you conduct business are critical, so it’s worth the investment. Like all hiring processes, it’s usually cheaper to retain a good consultant than to hire a new one (if the one you have is costing you money, you’re better off disrupting things so you can recover your position quickly). It makes sense to spend a little extra time choosing the right team for your business. You’ll be confident that your teams will align on the big issues, you’ll have the support that you need and the confidence to trust them with your sensitive data.
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