IT consulting is the outsourcing of some or all IT services to a company. It also refers to a company with professionals specialized in certain areas who help customers choose and implement the best management software or restructure their internal governance, for example.
Considering the various benefits for a company that hires an IT consulting company, more and more companies and professionals have operated exclusively in this business model.
Consulting, or outsourcing, offers different types of services, whose scopes may vary depending on the technical expertise of the team.
This article discusses what IT consulting is and how to become a successful IT consultant, addressing the following topics:
- IT consulting: what is it?
- How does IT consulting work?
- Types of IT consulting
- IT consulting services
- How to start an IT consulting business
- Learn more about Milvus
Enjoy the article!
IT consulting: what is it?
IT consulting is the outsourcing of strategic IT services, so that the company can benefit from specific technical expertise in information technology. These services can support project planning, decision making, and monitoring of all activities.
IT consulting can help increase the service management quality, minimize errors, and reduce costs. It happens because IT consulting prevents rework, for example.
Imagine the following situation: a company decides to change its entire process management, adding automation and other modern resources. These changes include the adoption of an ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system for business management.
Without knowing very well the options available or the technical level of the organization, a manager chooses the most attractive option – whether because of the price, the service provider or the manager’s feeling – not considering the real needs.
After negotiating and purchasing a license to use the tool, the manager chooses a team to manage the deployment process. Much time and a lot of money have already been invested so far.
At ERP system deployment, configuration, and start, the professionals involved may have several technical problems: equipment that does not support the system, documentation and processes that are not applicable to the features offered by the system and many others.
The result is a big headache.
IT consulting advantages
If an IT consulting firm had been hired before purchasing the ERP system, an IT consultant would have:
- studied the customer’s current scenario and reality, the dependencies and requirements for the good progress of the project;
- suggested the ideal system to fulfill those needs;
- assisted in detailing or scope definition in the entire pre-installation period;
- monitored and guided the entire implementation;
- training the teams or professionals involved with the new system;
- offered maintenance support, seeking to improve the company’s performance and results, according to its strategic objectives.
The IT consulting activities would have reduced the deployment time, avoided complications during the entire process and, saved the customer’s money, which was wasted with the acquisition of a tool that did not help the company meet the final objective.
What is IT outsourcing?
IT outsourcing is the business practice of hiring external resources to perform activities like infrastructure management, employee recruitment, and supervision of information technology activities.
This increasingly popular term describes one way the IT consulting service is provided.
You can read more about it in this article, which explains what IT outsourcing is and the benefits of outsourcing.
What does an IT consultant do?
An IT consultant works for consulting companies or as a self-employed professional. IT consultants will listen to customer’s needs and objectives, and understand the context and current situation of the business, seeking to offer solutions that meet the demands.
Then, a consultant is an expert in a certain subject, method, programming language, or framework. In addition, this professional must have commercial and customer service skills to manage demands, expectations and pressure from several companies at the same time.
How does IT consulting work?
To better illustrate how IT consulting works, we will briefly present below the steps of an IT consulting project, from the identification of a company’s need to the project conclusion:
- The company identifies a need or problem.
- The company seeks professionals or companies specialized in this knowledge (or a full outsourcing company, if the idea is to outsource all services).
- The company must analyze and consider indicators such as customer and case history, initial contact, consultant availability and, of course, the service cost. After that, the company begins to negotiate the work model and contractual issues.
- In this step, topics such as the frequency of visits or meetings, consultants in charge of the company and SLA are addressed – SLA definition is an important item to ensure the quality of deliveries and the satisfaction of both parties.
- Once the conditions of the agreement are concluded, the consultants begin the work of immersion and start studying the customer.
- Consultants are often based at the customer’s facilities for some time. The purpose is to participate in activities and services more closely and have a better understanding of the company’s operations.
- After understanding the current scenario and detailing the real needs and requirements, the consultant can propose a solution to the initial problem.
About the process
This last step can vary significantly depending on the issue to be addressed or agreement model. For example, the consulting service can be hired for a specific project, with a beginning, middle, and end. Or, the agreement can be a monthly service, with no definition of deadline or scope.
In this case, the consultant will support decisions about various issues, solving several problems or situations as they arise.
Therefore, consultants have deep knowledge of their customers, so they are able to act strategically to achieve the business objectives.
Types of IT consulting
Some companies choose to hire consultants from other countries, especially from less developed countries, as their service is cheaper. As a result, countries like India have played a relevant role in the technology sector, offering countless professionals in the area, usually working remotely to provide services to places all over the world.
In this case, companies hire consultants in their own country. Instead of reducing costs, the idea here is to facilitate communication, work closely with the customer, allowing in-person visits and avoiding cultural conflicts.
This is a mix of the types above. The company hires consultants from other countries, seeking lower costs, but opts for professionals from countries with the same language to reduce misunderstandings because of the language and avoid time zone issues, so that both the consultant and the customer are available in the same hours.
IT consulting services
A company may decide to hire an IT consultant for different work models or service types. It all depends on:
- the objectives of the service agreement;
- the company’s IT structure;
- the skills or expertise required for the job.
But, in general, we have three common models that are usually adopted, described below:
Systems and equipment
Consulting services for systems and equipment guide the purchase and implementation of programs or machinery, supporting the development of the company’s technical and technological structure.
With such guidance, the company minimizes errors, reduces costs, and speeds up the process of these deployments, optimizing processes and relying on training or support from specialized professionals. We have already given an example above.
The consulting service can also support or be responsible for asset management, maintaining an up-to-date inventory and ensuring machine availability.
Security and infrastructure
In this business model, the consulting service is specifically focused on information security and infrastructure issues.
With the data protection legislations around the world, organizations must have IT professionals specialized in these regulations who are able to adapt the company’s operations.
Companies with business relationships with European countries already have specialized consultants to ensure compliance with personal data and privacy regulations in Europe.
In addition, infrastructure consulting ensures a better performance of the IT department and helps reduce the unavailability of systems and applications. Infrastructure consulting also controls accesses and permissions, providing more security to the company’s strategic information.
Finally, full consulting assumes all responsibilities of the company’s IT department. For small companies, hiring full consulting services can be very useful and cheaper than implementing the department in-house.
This way, the company can invest its resources in processes for its key business activities, leaving IT planning and decisions to specialized professionals.
How to start an IT consulting business
Study your market
As we have seen, consulting services can be provided in different work models and offer different types of service. To define your work models and types of services to provide as a consultant, the first thing to do is study your market.
Do you intend to work closely with your customers? If so, then you will have to find customers in your city or cities nearby.
So ask yourself:
- How do companies in this region operate?
- Do they have a mature IT department?
- What are their main needs and challenges?
The answers to the questions above will help you identify the opportunities in the market.
Develop a strategic planning
Then it’s time to plan your own company. Even if you intend to be a self-employed consultant, a strategic planning is important to guide your decisions and your professional positioning.
You can use some fast methodologies to plan your business, like the Business Model Canvas.
Select a work model
With market research and strategic planning, you will have all information required to support your decision regarding which work model to adopt.
This is where you define your area of operations, your work model (in-person meetings, remote work, at the customer’s facilities), the types of services you want to offer, and the agreement conditions (per project, monthly consulting, or both).
Obtain a certification
It is important to obtain industry certifications to validate your expertise in a particular subject. Certifications show professionalism, refresh your knowledge, and keep you active in the industry.
Other useful tools include attending events in the area and courses in related areas, such as entrepreneurship, administration, and technology, for example.
A highly valued certification is ITIL. See more information about it in the article “What is ITIL? What are the ITIL benefits?”
Participate in industry events
Speaking of events, this is another important tip we have for you. The IT industry changes rapidly and constantly. New technologies, devices, and systems are developed all the time. If you don’t keep up with the trends, you may be left behind.
So watch for new events! There are many events, in different places and periods of the year. Many of them are free. If you want to be a successful IT consultant, you need to keep up with the market trends.
Invest in automation systems
This tip is gold! Even as a self-employed consultant, you will have different clients and demands. Then, using systems that automate part of your work will help you focus on the most demanding and strategic situations. Don’t waste time with operational or repetitive tasks.
For instance, ticket management systems ensure autonomy to customers. In addition to helping you with your tasks, they also allow you to increase your customer satisfaction. Want something better?
The Milvus platform optimizes your IT team management, leading to increased productivity efficiency.
Milvus offers intelligent inventory services, allowing full control of all devices of your customers, improving the activities of your team during service routines.
Also, with the help desk, another feature of the system, you can centralize your tickets and keep track of SLAS, which can increase your team productivity by up to 80%.
Take a free trial or request a demo!
As we have seen, IT consulting services find good opportunities in the market, acting through different work models and without geographical limits, with customers all over the world, depending on your positioning.
Then, if you want to invest in your own business, have specializations, and obtain certifications to work as a consultant, it is possible to find countless opportunities. However, don’t forget to offer quality services and keep your business management under control.
Consider adopting automation systems to ensure effective service, good priority management, and compliance with defined deadlines.
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