20 years ago, technology was a business luxury. Today, it’s a necessity.
Your ability to do business is directly tied to the reliability of your digital infrastructure. As technology grows more complex, and more powerful, the more you’ll need the guidance of an IT consultant to make sure your systems work in harmony.
The world of IT is complex and quickly evolving. You may not know what you need. The right IT consultant can help your business achieve supernatural outcomes. We’re here to show how to spot a good partner for your business.
The short answer? Yes.
Most businesses acquire solutions to individual problems as they come up, from CRM software to help desk services to data collection. They aren’t strategically planned to integrate with one another to provide a holistic lift to your business.
In effect, this amounts to building the ship as it’s sailing. You might not sink, but you’ll always struggle to plug the holes in your hull — like incomplete data, slow decisioning intervals, and sub-par security.
That’s not to mention the greater administrative burden that comes with a set of disparate tools. An IT Consultant can structure a technology ecosystem that provides the connective tissue between processes. This connective tissue creates a sum of more than its parts, a system that provides more impact and requires less runaround.
If you’re considering an IT consultant, you likely have a specific issue on your mind that hampers your business on a frequent basis.
Not only does a system outage bring momentum to a screeching halt, it costs. Gartner estimates that a single minute of downtime can cost a business $5,600, on average. Even if the system doesn’t completely fail, your staff may be plagued with corrupted files, lost data, malfunctioning applications, and other problems that drag your progress.
When your company grows to a certain size, there are no small mishaps. Any issue or blunder will cost significant time, resources, and reputational damage.
Without an infrastructure built to handle the demands of scaling up, your architecture becomes precarious to maintain. Growth also makes you a bigger target for malicious actors. But chances are, if a cyber criminal breached your system, you wouldn’t find out about it for six months.
If you work in a high-governance industry like healthcare, education, or finance, new regulations and market mandates can impose new demands that your current IT arrangement simply can’t meet.
Data storage is one of the fastest-growing needs across all industries. An IT consultant can help you formulate a recovery plan. In the event of a cyber crime, natural disaster, or other catastrophic situation, your protocols can help restore your system and get your business back up and running.
Should you purchase Mac or Windows laptops for your employees? Should you store data in the cloud or through a Network Attached Storage system? What metrics should you be monitoring, and what do those metrics really say about the business? You know these questions are important, but you simply don’t have the time to seek out the answers.
Ultimately, you just want your digital infrastructure to work, so you can devote your attention to broader operational objectives. And that’s the goal most IT consultants work toward.
At Vudu, we believe this approach is short-sighted.
Problem prevention is only half the equation. The power of today’s technology allows your IT system to do more than support your business objectives—it allows your IT system to inform, influence, and evolve your business objectives.
The best IT consultants of today fill a void at the leadership table, a void you may not even recognize, because it’s never been filled before. They strategically align your technology strategy with your business strategy to create IT magic. Acting in that capacity requires more than knowledge of today’s technology tools. It requires business acumen, creativity, and experience that most IT consultants simply don’t possess.
As you search for an IT consultant you’ll likely encounter four different types of consultants. Choosing an IT consultant depends on what you need most and what part you expect your IT vendor to play in your business.
Typically, this type of IT consultant is a one-man operation, the single-celled organism of the IT consulting world. A handyman consultant usually functions as an order-taker. You tell him what you want — pull a report, fix a connectivity issue, set up a new employee in your system — and he’ll do it.
Handyman consultants tend to be the least proactive, the least capable, and least scalable. They can solve the most rudimentary issues, and they take on some of the manual burden of IT maintenance, but they do very little to improve the system or prepare it for growth.
Generalist consultants are the next stage of evolution for the handyman, and the most common form of IT consultant. They typically have a generic system model that they implement for every client. Sometimes, their measures are motivated by purchase incentives from the manufacturers of the products they use, rather than the strategic benefit for your business.
Once they set up your system, they usually disappear until a problem arises. They prop up the system they’ve put in place, but they rarely keep you updated on the changes they make to your system, report metrics on their performance, or consider the business’s strategy.
Generalists tend to treat the symptoms, not the disease.
As your company grows, the increased volume will tax your generalist’s capacity. More business requires more employees, which leads to more support tickets, which results in slower response and resolution times.
Niche consultants have deep expertise in an extremely specific industry or stage of business. For instance, they may specialize in preparing companies to go public. Often, they boast proficiency in a high-governance industry, like oil and gas or pharmaceutical billing. Their main function is to help clients structure their system to maintain regulatory compliance.
Niche specialists are adept at leading companies toward these objectives, but they don’t touch the business’s overall strategy beyond that objective. Once you’re in compliance, or once you’ve gone public, what then?
Tons of IT consultants out there claim to offer “virtual CIO” capabilities, but few deliver. Though amateur strategists will address the IT issues giving you headaches, the professionals are more than technological custodians. They work to gain a deep understanding of your workflows and objectives to create a custom plan of action, and they wield the technology with purpose and precision to transform your business.
Strategists like Vudu transform data into insights, insights into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom that can revolutionize your business intelligence. They demand a seat at the leadership table, and they have what it takes to grow along with your business to meet new challenges and seize new opportunities.
Handyman and Generalist IT consultants don’t suffice for most businesses, and they will only become more obsolete as time goes on.
In today’s modern IT landscape, you should expand your scope of what is possible. You should expect more of your IT consultant than the status quo.
Data collection is easy, but knowing what to do with it can be difficult. It can feel a bit like eating an elephant—where to even start?
An IT consultant can help you identify and prioritize your data analytics.
During Vudu’s discovery process, we get under the hood of your business. We don’t make any changes to your workflow for the first month, allowing staff to submit support tickets just as they normally would, then scrutinizing the details. After a month, we have a good picture of which department is submitting the most tickets, and why, thus accounting for the bulk of your IT manpower.
By identifying the squeaky wheels in your business, we can begin making immediate improvements.
Next, we’ll get a feel for the systems each department uses and find ways to standardize departmental data. By flowing disparate data sets into a single set, we can identify hidden data points.
That’s when real IT magic begins to happen. For us, data is the paint on our easel which lets us envision a bigger picture.
With this greater picture at hand, we can decide what to do, and in what order. Additionally, this process helps bring our billing model into a predictable process.
Data is a tangible value-add to your business, and it warrants its own line on your data sheet. From the C-suite to the bottom-rung employee to your customers, good, actionable data has the potential to influence every aspect of your business.
Don’t neglect the importance of project management in your considerations. Your consultant’s ability to manage their efforts is just as important as their technical abilities.
What we’re really talking about is trust.
A lack of organization, communication, initiative, and transparency from your IT consultant will sow the seeds of doubt that make a successful relationship impossible.
At Vudu, we’ve been making IT magic for 15 years, transforming not only our clients, but the industries they work in. Yes, we live on the bleeding edge of the latest technology and practices. Yes, we have the experience to align IT strategy with business strategy.
But we also excel at the daily doing. We bring the project management framework of the Big Four to businesses of all sizes and industries, creating a custom IT roadmap to success.
A new mindset opens the field for a whole new range of questions to ask when vetting a potential IT consultant. A real partner will provide a CIO or CTO voice at the leadership table, and you should interview them similarly to how you’d interview a potential new executive.
Who are the consultant’s previous clients and what have they helped accomplish? The IT candidate should be able to tell you concrete outcomes, not just a list of system implementations.
Has the consultant worked in your industry before? What special knowledge do they bring to the table?
How will the IT consultant contribute to strategic business objectives and success?
How does the candidate approach data? Are they confident in helping determine what to measure and how, or do they fully rely on you to provide that direction?
How will the IT consultant adapt as your business scales?
How will the partnership benefit you, your employees, and your customers?
After onboarding, how will you be proactive about communication, reporting, and updates?
What are the consultant’s documentation processes? If the relationship turns out to be a bad fit, will it be easy to transition out of it and into another relationship?
How will the consultant train and acclimate your staff to their changes?
How good is the consultant at working alongside other vendors?
What is the best way to ensure healthy communication between your team and the consultant? If you need to hire a liason, what kind of experience do they need?
Once you’ve optimized the business’s IT environment, how will the consultant benefit your business going forward?
What is the billing model? Does the consultant bill by headcount or do they bill by goal?
How involved does the consultant expect you and your team to be, and in what way will they be involved?
What project management framework does the consultant adhere to?
Navigating the IT consulting field can be a murky endeavor. You know your business better than anyone, and your needs are unique. If you can spot a bad match early, it can save you time, money, and stress.
Research certifications and accreditations. Some accreditations out there are very legitimate, while others are worthless. See if prominent companies or industry figures back the certification.
Expect a custom solution. Your IT consultant should tailor a strategy that fits your business, rather than shoehorning you into a generic, pre-packaged system.
Demand radical candor. Documentation should be open-ended and transparent. Your consultant shouldn’t keep business passwords and other information under lock and key.
Billing should be tied to value. When billing is based on your employee count or support ticket count, it may indicate that the consultant doesn’t work with a holistic or proactive view. Their goal, after all, is to improve your structure and lower your volume of support tickets.
Your candidate should ask just as many questions. An IT consultant who only talks about their offering isn’t concerned with understanding your business.
A strategic IT infrastructure isn’t a bonus for your business anymore. It’s the architecture that gives your business shape and strength. A true IT partner doesn’t just solve for today, they set your business up to predict and adapt to the future, the unknown, and the unexpected.
When choosing an IT partner, there is no net neutral. Your partner will either help your business, or hinder it.
At Vudu, we are business-minded technology wizards whose capabilities extend beyond the normal realm of IT consultants. We have a unique ability to convert data into insights, insights into knowledge, and knowledge into wisdom. With that wisdom, our clients can make better decisions for their businesses and bring about supernatural transformation.