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Updated by Charles Bystock on 06/19/2014

it-outsourcing-consultants_(2)IT outsourcing consultants that stand out from the herd are the ones that feel almost as if they’ve always been part of your organization. They have the right knowledge and insight to augment your internal expertise, and they have the right attitude and instincts to work closely with your own people to drive creative but eminently practical IT solutions.

Clearly, not every possibility among the many IT outsourcing consultants in the marketplace will be a standout for your herd. You want a zebra, not just a horse of a different color.

Top IT outsourcing consultants exhibit a single-minded focus on results.

Isn’t that why you hire outside advisors? You could do something on your own. You could, and should, expect to make better-informed decisions with the help of additional experts. But you’re looking to make significant changes to your enterprise, perhaps fundamentally altering how you handle IT. You need choices that will bring you maximum value right now, so you can secure solutions that will have enduring value.

The cream of the crop among IT outsourcing consultants demonstrate their commitment to your enterprise and your goals by providing performance-based fees. After all, if their advisory services don’t give you what you wanted and expected, what have you gained? You may have learned some things, and that’s always a good thing. But you need results.

They have an undeniably superior track record.

IT outsourcing consultants that reach zebra status have comprehensive hands-on experience that supports a holistic approach to your project. That includes management of IT operations as complex as yours in companies and industries like yours. And it includes broad-based executive business management. This is key, because it’s not possible to make smart, strategic IT decisions without fully understanding the enterprise-wide ramifications and opportunities. Top consultants get it.

Have a heart-to-heart talk with their past clients. Top candidates will get high marks for the advisory process and, even more importantly, for how well things are going now that the solution(s) and provider(s) have been in place for a while. Don’t just check with the references your candidates provide, do your own networking with your own contacts. What’s their reputation among peers and vendors?

The people factor.

Zebras communicate well with the entire herd -- your internal IT staff and also everyone else on your project team, technical or not. They understand the importance of including all key constituents within your organization to build a high-level business case that makes sense and reassures even the most cautious decision-makers.

They also take into account cultural issues such as reassuring potentially hesitant or even fearful and recalcitrant staff who may be worried about how outsourcing changes could affect their jobs or position within the company.

Your top IT outsourcing consultants will have a working style similar to yours – important because a smooth working relationship is critical for any successful endeavor that depends on teamwork. Working seamlessly together means your project herd can run together and turn on a dime as needed to reach your goal.

The time factor.

Your time is valuable. Top IT outsourcing consultants commit 100% to your project, so you can reach the conclusions you’re looking for as quickly and efficiently as possible. Delay costs money, not to mention loss of corporate and human momentum.

As you investigate each of these traits, you’ll start to form a complete picture of various outsourcing advisory firms. Look for the stripes of compatibility that define the zebras among them -- compatibility with your enterprise. There won’t be many, assuredly, but the top candidates will stand out clearly from the herd.

Bear in mind that no two zebras look exactly alike. So it is with top IT outsourcing consultants. Once you’ve identified your best candidates, though, you’ll be able to spot your zebra right away.