There are occasions in life when we have to accept that it’s better to get a job done by somebody else rather that to do it ourselves. We all have different skills and abilities but there is one thing in which we are all equal: we only have the same number of hours in a day available to us.
You may be able to type faster than your secretary, but typing your own documents is not the most productive use of your time. The reason you get paid more than your secretary is because you have particular talents that your company is prepared to pay extra for.
When it comes to IT problems, the position is very similar. You, or someone in your company, may be able to get to the heart of the problem and sort it out. However, the questions are: How long is this going to take you and while you are working on the company’s IT problems which of the duties that you are paid to do are you neglecting?
It is at this point that you might consider employing an IT consultant. Like all things worth having, this is not going to be cheap. Therefore, you want to be sure that you hire the best consultants possible. Here are some of the key considerations for you when it comes to hiring an IT consultant.
Where to Start
It is an obvious point but so often we overlook it as a starting point: ask around your network of friends and business colleagues to see if they can recommend anyone to you. You may well know someone who has recently had work done by a consultant.
Don’t forget to take advantage of social media. In particular, LinkedIn and Twitter and be fruitful platforms to invest a little time in. With Twitter, you could post a tweet letting your followers know what you are looking for. The more people aware of what you are looking for the more chance you have of finding it.
It’s always a good idea to meet with any prospective consultant not so much to ensure she has the skills you need (which is obviously important), but to ensure that she is the type of person you can work with (which is often ignored until it is too late). It also gives the consultant a chance to ensure that she can work with you.
Consider Using an Auction Style Website
It goes without saying that if you can find a consultant through a recommendation that is the best way to work. However, this is not always possible. Therefore, you might consider using an auction style website to find a consultant. If you choose to do this, it is of critical importance that you very clearly define precisely what the job is that you want done.
Be prepared for a wide range of varying proposals to come your way. Cost is going to be a key factor for you whatever the size of your business. It’s well to be reminded, then, that the cheapest bid is not automatically the best bid.
Whether you find your consultant through an auction website or through a recommendation you will want to take up references for her.
Define the Task
The first thing to ask yourself is whether you know precisely what the task is. If you don’t, then that is something you need to determine before you meet with your prospective consultants. Many consultants will want to work for fees paid on a daily basis. If the task to be done is not defined, you could end up with an unnecessarily heavy bill.
There’s no reason why your consultant cannot give you a quote for completing the job, rather than charging daily fees. She can do this only where the task is clear. It goes without saying that whatever you agree the task is it should be detailed in a contract.
Choosing the right IT consultant may take a little bit of time. It will be time well invested. It certainly will not be as time consuming as doing the job yourself.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Joe Haupt