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IT Outsourcing Consultants, 5 Tips on What to Look For

Feb 18, 2014 6:00:00 AM

by Charles Bystock

outsourcing consultantsComplexity, compliance, emerging technologies and best practices, picky customers, aging legacy systems, retiring veteran IT staff and rising costs all concern corporate executives these days. Outsourcing consultants can help you assess and overcome virtually any IT-related challenge your enterprise is facing. But who should you call?

Here are five tips to help you evaluate outsourcing consultants, so you can make the right call.

Performance-based pricing.

You’re looking for results, through some form of IT change, whether it’s a few tweaks or wholesale transformation. Shouldn’t you start by expecting results from your outsourcing consultants? A firm whose fee is based on whether you get what you want and expect has every possible reason to exceed your expectations, and get the job done quickly and efficiently.

Performance-based pricing is also perhaps the best indicator that IT outsourcing consultants have the utmost respect for your budget as well as your time. You won’t have to worry about being overcharged for dubious numbers of staff hours spent on not so much. Surprisingly, though, this pricing model is not universally used.  

Assurance you’re getting the A team.

Naturally, all outsourcing consultants want to put their best foot forward. They emphasize the knowledge and experience of their top team members, to convince you they have what it takes to address your project needs with the highest levels of expertise.

But who’s actually going to work on your project? Those top-tier partners, or some junior staff? The junior staff may well have superb educations and creativity, but they probably don’t have the life experiences necessary to really understand your company and your needs.

Real-life IT experience.

Experience working with your type and scope of IT environment gives outsourcing consultants the ability to quickly size up your situation, understanding what’s critical for your operation and how things work now. You don’t have to waste time explaining (or, in effect, training) them. They can readily comprehend the ramifications of potential change alternatives for your enterprise-wide functionality and service delivery.

You can’t expect to receive valuable insight from someone who’s mostly theorizing. And that’s critical, because the changes you make will determine your company’s future agility and capabilities.

Real-life business management experience.

You might be investigating IT alternatives, but these days technology permeates every nook and cranny of your organization. Beyond storing data and managing transactions efficiently, you can’t develop new products, market them, protect yourself in the event of a service failure or natural disaster or even communicate internally and with customers without adequate, reliable and flexible IT systems.

Outsourcing consultants with hands-on management experience that everything is interwoven, beyond simply assuring delivery of IT services. They can quickly grasp how impending change will impact each aspect of your enterprise. And how it might impact your customers.

Perhaps most important, they know that the best IT decisions support big-picture decision-making – it’s called a “business case,” not an “IT case” for a reason. Creatively integrating the latest technologies and concepts can lead your company into the future, securing your competitiveness and increasing your profitability.

Proof.

It’s easy for outsourcing consultants to tell you they’re your best choice, but can they back that up? Suitability is the key to success with any consulting relationship. So ask:

  • What companies have they worked with in the past?
  • What did they do for them – was the project similar in scope and requirements to yours?
  • What do clients think of their work? Get referrals, and talk to them.
  • What do clients think of them, personally? You’re inviting them to join your team – albeit temporarily – and you know that teams only succeed when they can collaborate smoothly.

You’ll find that the marketplace is populated with a wide range of outsourcing consultants. Choose the right one, and you’re taking a smart step toward designing practical yet flexible answers to your most pressing IT challenges.  

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