It’s said that an optimist calls the glass half full, a pessimist calls it half empty, and a consultant says there’s too much glass.
Consultants may be good fodder for jokes, but IT consulting is seriously among the most critical investments your company will ever make.
That’s because technology is at the heart of your operations. IT consulting is not just about which new app or computer to buy. It’s about your entire strategic direction, the security of your corporate and customer data, your ability to operate, communicate, and stay competitive in a fast-moving world.
That’s what IT consulting is really about: fitting your company with the technology it needs to succeed, now and in the future.
“Consulting is more than advising, it is assisting clients to reach a goal,” writes a contributor to Spiceworks, a community of IT professionals.
What exactly is IT consulting?
Too often, terms like “IT consulting,” “IT services,” “software consulting,” and others seem like they mean the same thing.
They don’t. True, they are often used interchangeably, and sometimes the lines do blur. For instance, a client may ask a consultant to implement their recommendations, slipping over the line between IT consulting and IT services.
But there’s a critical difference. Generally speaking, the difference between IT consulting and IT services is that a consultant knows what to do, and a service provider knows how to do it.
But that doesn’t mean a consultant works in a vacuum or only with hypotheticals.
Spiceworks again: “By considering implementation issues throughout the engagement, such as corporate culture, readiness to change, training requirements, and corporate communications channels, we keep our eye on the realm of possibility … and prepare the client for the real-world issues of implementation and system operation.”
An IT consultant may act like a general contractor who brings together others with specialized expertise to implement parts of the plan. The consultant may not be able to install PBX systems and Internet cables, but can recommend or bring in a telecom provider and ISP who can.
What does IT consulting include?
IT consulting can cover just about anything related to technology:
- Software and hardware upgrades and procurement
- IT infrastructure
- Network design
- Strategic planning
- Cybersecurity and risk assessment/mitigation
- Internet service
- Telecom services, including PBX/phone systems
- Data backup and disaster recovery
- IT budgeting, including investments (capex) and expenditures (opex)
This list is just a beginning.
Still, it means that an IT consultant needs a wide range of skills and expertise — in business, not just technology.
That includes management, financial, and communications skills. Merely keeping up with new apps and devices isn’t enough.
The benefits of IT consulting
At a minimum, IT consulting can help you find peace of mind just knowing that your IT infrastructure is up to date and secure. It can also help you:
- Identify issues that may arise in the future. Technology changes rapidly, and you need to keep current to stay competitive. An IT consultant can help you create a strategic plan for your technology.
- Become compliant with HIPAA or other data privacy regulations. [link: IT Compliance]
- Clear out legacy systems, former users, and other “dead wood” from your hardware and software.
- Educate your employees on mobile security, ransomware and phishing, and other cybersecurity issues.
As with many things in life and business, sometimes you need to talk things through before you take any action. An experienced IT consultant is a good listener too.
Talk first, then act
Every project we work on starts with consulting. We begin by assessing where you are and where you want to be. We work with you to create a technology strategy that supports your company’s growth and helps you navigate a clear path toward your business goals.
And then we can implement the plan as well.
Our IT consulting expertise is born of long experience. Expertise you can typically only get from larger, more expensive companies. We’ve been consulting with Bay Area companies on their IT for nearly 40 years — as long as the PC itself.
Contact us today and we’ll talk.