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Updated by Charles Bystock on 06/26/2014

it-outsourcing-consultants_(3)Why do you want to hire an IT outsourcing consultant? What do you expect (or at least hope) they will do for you? If you can answer those two questions, you’re well on your way to making the right choice among IT outsourcing consultants.

For most enterprises, IT outsourcing consultants assure knowledgeable guidance through the wilderness of options that now make up the global IT marketplace. No matter how up-to-date you think your CIO and IT staff are, they’re probably no match for the lightning-fast pace of change we continue to see in:

  • Infrastructure technology
  • Applications
  • Solution configurations
  • Provider specialties
  • Pricing models
  • Process and governance best practices

Within this fluid environment, IT outsourcing consultants can help you find the options that represent solid ground for your company. The right consultant can help you with everything from renegotiating an existing outsourcing contract to planning and executing a comprehensive IT transformation.

Following these five steps will help you choose that right consultant.

1. So exactly where do you need help?

Even if you answered the two questions we posed above, can you be explicit? You need to be clear in your own mind about what you want to achieve by working with IT outsourcing consultants in order to have a successful experience. If your consultant isn’t certain what you expect, it’s going to be tough for them to provide it.

Bear in mind that, as you work with them, you may want to expand the original scope of services. IT outsourcing consultants can be much more valuable than you may suppose.

2. What’s your budget?

Consulting can be highly cost-effective, but it still costs money. You’ll want to include that one-time expense when you consider the cost of making any outsourcing-related moves, but for now you have to budget for that expense. IT outsourcing consultants price their services in a variety of ways, usually something traditional such as hourly rates or fixed project fees.

Clarity and control (yours) are critical here, or your consulting fee could creep past your budgeted maximum.

3. What’s your timeframe?

A narrowly-defined project will obviously take less time than a broader, more complex advisory, but your goal should be to complete your consulting phase as quickly as possible, so you can get on with implementing whatever changes you’ve identified. Delay costs money and momentum, so choose IT outsourcing consultants who can guarantee they’ll commit fully to your project until it’s completed. Look for a firm that won’t nickel-dime you with unnecessary work hours that drag out your timeframe and drive up costs.

4. Get to know them before you hire them.

Most outsourcing relationships fail because the working relationship never clicks. The same can hold true for working with IT outsourcing consultants, so a face-to-face meeting is an essential part of the interview process. A consultant focused on ensuring the best results for you will want that, too.

You want to find out who they are as experts – their education and experience with high-level IT and overall business management, their consulting successes, etc. You should speak to their references, especially clients with companies or projects similar to yours. But you want to know who they are as people, too.

Are their personalities and working style a good fit for your organization? Do you sense an unwavering commitment to your goals?

5. Agree on project success benchmarks.

Those goals you established in Step 1 are your success metrics. They close the loop between the help you wanted from teaming up with outside advisors and the actual results. Do they match? Now let’s re-look at Step 3. IT outsourcing consultants who offer performance-based fees ensure you’re most likely to get exactly what you want. Because if you don’t, you won’t have to pay.