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5 Considerations When Choosing An IT Sourcing Consultant

May 7, 2013 6:00:00 AM

by Charles Bystock

IT sourcing consultantsHiring an IT sourcing consultant can be a strategically smart move. With more providers and more services available than ever before, making the right choices has become far more complex. The right consultant can give you the guidance you need to stay focused on your own goals and avoid tempting distractions that won’t benefit you in the long run.

But how do you know which IT sourcing consultant is that “right one” – the one who will give you confidence and peace of mind as well as facts to make up your mind?

Look for these five key characteristics. The most appropriate consultant should embody all of them, not just some.  

1. Experience.

In-depth IT knowledge may seem like a given, but it’s hands-on experience you want, not just the ability to do good research. Business management experience is important, too. It’s best if they know your industry or one similar, because you want a consultant that can easily understand the nuances of your operation and the ramifications of change for your enterprise without you having to teach them.

2. Track record.

This is another kind of experience, and it’s equally important. Look for a consulting team who has developed a reputation for putting it all together successfully for clients like you. Look for hard evidence they can do what they claim when it comes to strategically matching you with best-choice vendors and service providers. A demonstrable track record is an unbiased reference.

3. Comfortable personal fit.

Choose a consultant with whom you have an “easy” working relationship. Understanding your enterprise and how you do business is important, but so are the ability to understand your corporate culture and the ability to communicate well with you and your staff. You’ll be looking for these same traits when it’s time to choose your service provider, especially if you choose broad-scale outsourcing.

4. Systematic approach.

How does each consultant propose to go about helping you? How invested are they in your successful outcomes? They should be willing to share their insight to help you thoroughly evaluate your current situation -- ensure you’re looking at every little detail, especially those areas where even seasoned execs might overlook some factor important to an IT sourcing decision.

It’s vital that you use truly comparable metrics when weighing in-house functionality and service quality against prospective alternatives. The right IT sourcing consultant will provide A-to-Z guidance, not just plug you into some formula or try to sell you whatever works best for them.

5. Keen eye on your bottom line.

There’s no point eating up valuable resources unnecessarily on the consulting phase of your outsourcing investigation. So look for results-driven pricing that incentivizes your consultant to be effective as well as busy on your behalf.

You’ll make the best selection by setting out clear expectations – defining your goals for using the consultant’s services. Ask for references and talk to them, asking about scope of work performed, value received, working relationships and ongoing communications. And suss out potential conflicts of interest. If they’re not too overwhelming, they can be managed – as long as you know about them in advance.

The process of choosing the right IT sourcing consultant is not unlike the process you’ll use if you decide to forge ahead with some variation of outsourcing. So look at it this way: by the time you get to that point, you’ll be an old hand at making the right choices. And your consultant will be right there with you. 

Photo credit: woodleywonderworks via Flickr

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