IT consulting

In management, information technology consulting (also called IT consulting, computer consultancy, business and technology services, computing consultancy, technology consulting, and IT advisory) as a field of activity focuses on advising organizations on how best to use information technology (IT) in achieving their business objectives. In addition to providing advice, IT consultancies often estimate, manage, implement, deploy, and administer IT systems on behalf of their client organizations - a practice known as "outsourcing".

Overview

The IT consulting industry can be viewed as a Four-tier system:

  • Professional services firms which maintain large professional workforces and command high bill rates.
  • Staffing firms, which place technologists with businesses on a temporary basis, typically in response to employee absences, temporary skill shortages and technical projects.
  • Independent consultants, who are self-employed or who function as employees of staffing firms or as independent contractors in their own right Information Technology security consultants

There are different reasons why consultants are called in:

  • To gain external, objective advice and recommendations.
  • To gain access to the consultants' specialized expertise.
  • Temporary help during a one-time project where the hiring of a permanent employee(s) is not required or necessary.
  • To outsource all or part of the IT services from a specific company.
Prerequisites and major obstacles

Once a business owner defined the needs to take a business to the next level, a decision maker will define a scope, cost and a time-frame of the project. The role of the IT consultancy company is to support and nurture the company from the very beginning of the project until the end, and deliver the project not only in the scope, time and cost but also with complete customer satisfaction.

Project scoping and planning

The usual problem is that a business owner doesn't know the detail of what the project is going to deliver until it starts the process. In many cases, the incremental effort in some projects can lead to significant financial loss.

Business process and system design

The scope of a project is linked intimately to the proposed business processes and systems that the project is going to deliver. Regardless of whether the project is to launch a new product range or discontinue unprofitable parts of the business, the change will have some impact on business processes and systems. The documentation of your business processes and system requirements are as fundamental to project scoping as an architects plans would be to the costing and scoping of the construction of a building.

Project management support

The most successful business projects are always those that are driven by an employee who has the authority, vision and influence to drive the required changes in a business. It is highly unlikely that a business owner (decision maker or similar) will realize the changes unless one has one of these people in the employment. However, the project leadership role typically requires significant experience and skills which are not usually found within a company focused on day-to-day operations. Due to this requirement within more significant business change projects/programs, outside expertise is often sought from firms which can bring this specific skill set to the company.

IT consulting skills

An IT consultant needs to possess the following skills:

  • Advisory skills
  • Technical skills
  • Business skills
  • Communication skills
  • Management skills
  • Advisory language skills
  • Business and management language skills
  • Technical language skills

Under normal circumstances, for IT consulting is measured on a per day, per consultant basis. There is however an alternative option; IT consulting contract applies only to projects which are well defined, for example:

  • Infrastructure refreshment projects
  • Network design
  • Implementation of specific well described features, such as monitoring platforms
  • Infrastructure capacity planning

Many companies are now moving towards a fixed priced IT consulting model.