What to Look For in Hiring an IT Consultant

When it’s time to hire an IT Consultant for your business, it’s not always easy to know what criteria to use in order to select the best firm for the job. If you’re not familiar or comfortable with the technical side of your business, it makes the process even harder. Here are some items to consider to help guide you toward a successful search.

1. An IT Consultant with a broad range of product knowledge and experience will save you money and time in the long run. (You won’t be paying for a consultant to learn your system.) Ask about their expertise, and listen for industry standard software and hardware names like Microsoft, Cisco, Nortel, NetGear, Novell, Symantec, McAfee, SurfControl, LinkSys, IBM, Intel, DELL, Compaq, Veritas, and ARCserve.

2. Choose an IT Consulting firm which offers expertise in systems integration. The more software applications your business uses, the higher the risk of downtime due to system conflicts. Each software upgrade, hardware addition or new application that is installed on your system must operate smoothly with all other parts of the system. When these tasks are performed by knowledgeable IT personnel, it can mean the difference for your business between the high cost of unexpected downtime or productive employees.

3. The IT Consulting firm you select should offer scalable services. No matter what the size of your business is right now, it’s a good bet that your IT needs will grow in the future as technical systems become more sophisticated and complex. The firm you select should have the capability of handling not only your current needs, but your future needs as they expand. Not only will this ensure technical continuity, but you’ll save yourself the costly and time consuming task of searching for and hiring new IT Consultants on a regular basis.

4. Consider opting for round-the-clock availability. Your office or business may not be officially open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. But if you choose a consulting firm that offers 24-7 support, you will have the option available if you decide that your business needs it. Think of it as insurance. You may hope you never need to use it, but it’s nice to know you have it if you need it.

5. Choose an IT Consultant that can train your in-house staff. Whether you’re upgrading existing systems or installing new ones, the end result requires that your own employees are able to use the system effectively. Steep learning curves can be expensive when employees need to learn new systems on their own, as well as keep up with their current job responsibilities. An IT Consulting firm that offers training can save your business time and money, as well as help your employees transition smoothly. This means greater employee job satisfaction and minimal interruptions to productivity.

6. Make sure your IT Consultant can offer you the best security systems available. Computers have become as common place in the business environment as automobiles on a highway. And like automobiles, they attract their share of hijackers and thieves. Your computer system is a potential target not only for physical theft from your business premises, but for virtual theft of your information by online criminals. Unfortunately, new viruses and hackers appear on the scene on a daily basis. A competent IT Consultant should be part of the overall risk management strategy for every business.

While this list does not cover every situation, it’s a good basis for a long term IT solution. Technology is changing at a faster rate than ever before, and it only makes sense to choose an IT firm for your business team that is flexible and knowledgeable enough to navigate the ongoing uncertainties.