Budgeting accurately for your long-term IT needs requires an intimate knowledge about technology and IT trends. Compared to other department budgets that are easy to compile by making a few simple adjustments to the previous year’s numbers, your IT budget must take into account the depreciation of your IT equipment for replacement purposes, as well as the cost of procuring the new, cutting-edge solutions that are shaping your industry. Do you have the technical knowledge to come up with an accurate IT budget? If you don’t, you’ll want to employ the services of an IT consultant.
The Value of Having Your IT Provider Help With Your IT Budget
If it feels like coming up with an IT budget is a stab in the dark, then you should consult with the IT professionals. Ideally, your IT provider. The ultimate value of having your IT service provider double as your IT consultant is that you’re getting professional advice from a company that’s already overseeing your IT infrastructure. As a bonus, your IT provider is already familiar with your business model. If you’ve ever worked with a new consulting service before, then you know how much time the familiarization stage can take, and therefore, how valuable it is to not have to pay for introductions.
Thinking beyond the creation of an IT budget, does your IT provider offer routine IT consulting? By having regular conversations about your company’s technology needs, you’ll stay current with the latest IT trends that can improve operations, instead of having to spend time researching these trends yourself. After all, the consequences can be dire if your competition obtains productivity-enhancing technologies before you do, simply because you didn’t know they were available.
When selecting an IT consultant, follow these guidelines to find a good fit:
What You Shouldn’t Do
- Treat consultation as the fix-all solution. Yes, IT consulting can equip your business to resolve several issues, however, if you spread your resources too thin, you won’t be able to properly manage operations. Don’t think that IT consulting is a silver bullet to help you out of a jam. Instead, think of IT consulting like sage advice to put your business on the right track for future success.
- Confuse responsibilities. Before moving forward with your IT consultant, you’ll want to clearly lay out what their responsibilities are compared to your own. Be sure to have this discussion before signing an agreement. Otherwise, confusion and misunderstandings are sure to take place.
- Take your eye off the end goal. With so many moving pieces in an IT budget, it can be easy to get stuck on the details and lose sight of your main goals.
- Prevent this by making an outline of your goals before you get started with your IT consultation. Include in this outline the timeframe you want to accomplish these goals by. Your IT consultant will then be able to work with this outline so you can accomplish your goals in a timely and satisfactory manner.
What You Should Do
- Be as clear as possible. Remember that communication is a major part of every consultation service. Essentially, if your consultant is murky about what you want (or they assume wrongly), then you’ll end up with inaccurate advice and both sides will be frustrated. Avoid this damaging scenario by speaking candidly, and keeping the communication lines open.
- Take the time needed to find the perfect fit. IT consultants advise businesses in some very important matters. Therefore, you’ll want to go with a consultant that you can fully trust. This is why it’s worth it to only go with a company that’s experienced serving the IT needs you have, and one that’s proven themselves successful with previous clients.
- Remember that you’re prone to error too. Nothing good will come from using your IT consultant as a scapegoat for your own mistakes. It’s important to remember that, at the end of the day, you’re the decision maker and the consequences of making a bad decision lie with you. An IT consultant can only advise you so far in making your decision; you're the one saddled with the praise or criticism that comes with being the lead decision maker.
- Hire someone who has skills that you don’t have. This minimizes the chances that you’ll be stuck in a situation you don’t understand.
Now that you have a good idea of what to look for in your next IT consultant, your next step is to begin looking for one. For assistance with this, give SouthTech a call at 941-953-7455. Regarding many IT projects, we’ll be able to offer the expert IT consulting you need.