Running a business takes up all of your time — sometimes more time than you even have in a day. And today, very few businesses could run smoothly without the right technology resources. Whether or not you have any in-house IT staff, you may occasionally run into something you can’t handle on your own. When that happens, it’s a good idea to bring in an independent IT consultant.
There are a few different situations when you might find yourself needing a consultant’s help and expertise.
- Launching a new project that’s IT intensive
- Installing or re-structuring network systems
- Implementing new software systems
- IT auditing & strategy assessment
Tech-intensive undertakings can quickly become overwhelming for business owners and their staff. Bringing in a skilled, experienced IT consultant can help you maintain your productivity and efficiency while you implement new technology solutions, bringing in the expertise you need, to optimize your use of hardware and software resources.
You Don’t Have Any Dedicated IT Staff
Small businesses often don’t have the budget for in-house IT staff. When you need help with your technology resources, the most cost-effective option is often hiring the best it companies to help. Although consultants’ hourly rates might seem higher than an employee’s wages at first glance, it comes out to less if you don’t need someone full time. If you just need some temporary assistance with a project, a consultant is well worth the money.
You Rely on Tech-Savvy Staff to Handle IT Issues
Is your “IT person” actually your administrative assistant? It’s not uncommon for smaller companies to turn to one of their employees who’s a bit more tech-savvy than anyone else at the office. However, unless their job description involves IT, their knowledge is probably somewhat limited. Janice, the bookkeeper might be able to show you how to do something in Microsoft Word, but she’s probably not trained to troubleshoot serious problems, or to implement new software or hardware systems. For that, you’ll probably want to bring in a consultant.
You’re Implementing a New Software System
There are quite a few software options out there that can help streamline and optimize almost every aspect of your business. But when you’re trying to install and learn brand new software, you and your staff could very well find yourselves in over your heads. It’s not uncommon for companies to bring in a consultant who can install the software systems and provide training that helps your employees conquer the learning curve and learn to use the program to its fullest.
You Need an Outside Perspective
“You don’t know what you don’t know,” as they say. Sometimes, bringing in a fresh outside perspective can help you gain new insight into ways to maximize your procedural efficiency. IT consultants are often brought in, to provide procedural assessments and analyses that can pinpoint areas of inefficiency. They also offer consultation for strategic planning and architectural development.
An IT consultant can help you examine and audit your current infrastructure. For example, if you’re considering investing in CRM software, you’ll need to make sure that your hardware can handle it — not to mention choosing a CRM that works for your needs and your budget. IT planning and strategy are about aligning your technology with your business goals. A consultant can help you determine what you actually need, then take the right steps to implement new systems that can help your business, grow.
You Need to Train Your Staff
As we’ve mentioned, IT consultants can give your staff a crash course in how to use a new software system. But another thing you might want to think about is security. Not everyone is tech savvy, and people fall for phishing scams and ransomware all the time. A consultant can help train your staff in how to spot scams, saving you a lot of time and money by preventing malware from infecting your systems.
What If You Need Ongoing IT Support?
It’s a good idea to bring in an IT consultant for certain short-term projects, like creating a solid disaster recovery plan or implementing new software solutions for your business. But what about ongoing IT support? You may want to consider outsourcing through a managed IT service company. These companies provide a range of services at a monthly rate, including server management, hardware and software updates, phone and email tech support, and other things you might need. Few small businesses have the capital, or even the need, to bring on a full-time IT employee. Managed IT services give you the expertise you need, at an affordable monthly rate.
Bringing In the Right IT Expertise
For small to midsize businesses, an IT consultant can provide the expertise you need, to develop the right strategies to use technology to grow your business. From setting up servers and backing up data, to implementing new software systems and providing staff training, there are a multitude of situations where you could benefit from a consultant’s unique expertise.