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Updated by Charles Bystock on 09/30/2014

best_sourcing_advisorsYou can assure the best results from your IT consulting experience by choosing the right sourcing advisors. The best type of advisors for your firm’s IT needs depends on your enterprise itself. Here’s what you should look for in sourcing advisors:

1. People who know their stuff.

Truly useful sourcing advisors must be up-to-date with the latest tech innovations and understand their implications for your IT environment, whether you’re still entirely on mainframes or you now use some combination of mainframes and distributed systems. Transformation is only valuable if it improves or expands your capabilities.

Advisors must be equally up-to-date and personally familiar with providers. There are a lot more than there used to be, many with specialized focus. While that enhances your opportunity to find customized IT fit, it adds tremendous complexity to identifying and evaluating potential vendors. Newer ones have less of a track record, but you need assurance they’ll be there for you. And you want providers capable of innovative thinking. That’s where sourcing advisors come in.

2. Experience helping other companies similar to yours.

Successful work with clients of similar size, industry and IT configuration means they can relate to your challenges without you having to educate them. You’ll save time and frustration, not to mention get better results.

3. People who think like you.

Knowledge is important, but working style and ability to communicate clearly determine how well you’ll work together. (And, by the way, the same will be true for whatever providers you choose.) A great working relationship allows you to not only discuss alternatives but play off one another to develop the best possible solutions to your IT challenges.

The best sourcing advisors understand your IT environment from the inside out, because they’ve been there with hands-on IT management experience. Advisors with senior business management experience beyond IT are your best choice, though, because they understand your entire enterprise-wide picture – how IT both supports and drives your ability to function and thrive.

4. Small enough to be agile.

They should prioritize you and your project, not juggle you with who-knows-how-many other clients. The last thing you want is to be back-burnered because your advisory firm is spread too thin, or to wind up with a team of associates-in-training rather than the principals you interviewed. The juniors may be smart and well-intentioned, but knowledge + relevant experience = the best sourcing advisors.

There’s another reason a smaller firm may be more focused on completing your project in a timely manner -- they can’t move on to make their next client top priority until they’ve finished their work with you.  

5. Holistic approach.

There is no longer any such thing as “piecemeal” IT solutions. Everything is intertwined and has to be considered as a complete picture. Even if you’re engaging advisors for a narrowly-defined scope of work, whatever you discuss and decide must be based on enterprise-wide considerations, or the results will be out of sync with your long-term business goals. Thinking more broadly also allows you to think more creatively.

So beware any sourcing advisors you think will make assumptions about what you need or arrive armed with ready-made answers to questions you haven’t even asked yet. You want someone who will take a comprehensive, systematic approach to help you arrive at well-tailored custom solutions that will work – really work – for you.

6. Results-based approach.

A successful consulting experience isn’t a matter of how many hours you can invest, but how well you can identify and construct creative, valuable solutions. Look for advisors whose fees are based on their performance. If you don’t get the help you need and expected, you won’t be out what could be a considerable sum.

photo credit: FutUndBeidl via photopin cc