Factors to consider when choosing IT consulting firm for an SME
Technology is great, but not a silver bullet. There is no magical solution to your business’s issues, but having the right people in place to support you helps immensely. Maxima Consulting provides small and medium-sized enterprises in countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Netherlands with the expertise, resources, and guidance needed to navigate the complex and rapidly evolving IT landscape. We believe that by leveraging the right technologies, SMEs can increase their productivity and reduce business risks.
How to choose the right IT consulting company for a small or medium-sized business?
There are thousands of IT consultancies worldwide, and most of them are able to provide invaluable support in their respective areas of specialization. Since small and medium businesses often operate on a limited budget, they should prioritize the value-for-money ratio, but going for a competitive price only will not guarantee success. When choosing an IT consulting firm, always consider the factors listed below.
Expertise and experience
Find an IT consulting company with experience working with small and medium-sized businesses. SMEs differ from corporations in many ways, and your IT partner should have a good understanding of processes, goals, and challenges typical for your business environment. The vendor’s experience will have a tremendous impact on the project flow and timeline. Furthermore, make sure that the IT consulting company you chose has the expertise relevant to your specific project. If they don’t, ask if they are open to hiring new consultants specifically for your project.
Choose a company that explicitly offers the services that your business needs. But be holistic. Browse their web page or service catalog and see if they can support you in other areas as well. This way, you can select a vendor for long-term support, build a relationship, and enjoy their support no matter what the future brings. For example, if you’re looking for cybersecurity and cloud computing services, it’d be good if the consulting company also offered IT recruitment solutions. Whenever you decide to move the IT in-house, they’ll have a good understanding of your business.
Your IT consulting company should offer round-the-clock support to ensure issues are resolved quickly. According to a report from 2015, “downtime costs small businesses up to $427 per minute”. This number is much higher today, and SMEs should not accept such additional costs. Include the priority matrix and specify the time in which issues of different priorities will be resolved (and what happens if they’re not) in your service-level agreement (SLA) with the vendor.
Flexibility and scalability
Take into consideration that your company’s IT needs will evolve as your business grows. And that SMEs, in general, change faster than large companies. One of the most significant benefits of working with an IT consulting company is how flexible and scalable these companies usually are. A professional IT vendor will provide solutions that can evolve along with your business and ensure smooth operations on each level.
Ease of communication
Efficient communication is crucial to effective business cooperation. Consider how easy it is to communicate with the IT consultancy you want to partner with, how responsive they are to your inquiries, and how well they can explain their business model to you. If your potential partner operates globally, ensure they know how to communicate effectively across time zones. Ask about the tools they use to communicate and if they will establish a single point of contact.
As mentioned before, the value you get for your money is obviously important, and the cost difference between IT consulting companies can go into millions. Ask about the potential partner’s rate card. Evaluate their pricing model from affordability and transparency standpoints. Learn how they approach pricing and what billing models they offer. The time-and-material and fixed-price models are the most common in IT consulting. Depending on the type of support you need, a different model may be more beneficial to you.
Ten questions to ask a potential IT consulting partner
You can learn a lot by browsing the company’s website or reading its service catalog, but scheduling a meeting remains the best way to assess if they’re a good match for your business. Just be sure to ask the right questions, such as the ten below.
- What experience do you have working with small and medium-sized businesses in our industry?
- Can you provide examples of successful projects done for SMEs?
- Can you provide references from past clients?
- How can the services you offer support the growth of our business?
- How do you ensure 24/7 support?
- What is your approach to cybersecurity, and how will you make sure our business is protected?
- How do you ensure data privacy and confidentiality?
- What is your approach to updating our existing IT infrastructure?
- Are your solutions easily scalable?
- What is your pricing structure, and what is included in your services?
How can IT consultants support establishing remote and distributed teams in SMEs?
According to a report by Zapier, 32% of surveyed American knowledge workers said they quit a job because of no option to work remotely. It’s probable that even more people will prefer to work remotely in the upcoming years. This trend may force SMEs to optimize their IT infrastructure and processes for hybrid, remote, and distributed teams.
Fortunately, providing remote work options can become a fantastic business opportunity. Your employees will be satisfied. You’ll reduce operational costs and improve the work output. Your company will attract more talent.
However, suddenly allowing for remote work won’t do much good. First, devise a remote work strategy, establish processes, set boundaries, and define guidelines so important things don’t slip through the cracks. If you need help, find IT consultants who have the expertise to craft such policies and procedures and will conduct training sessions to explain these to your employees.
The biggest downside of remote work is the increased number of cyber threats. Employees will use work computers on private networks that can be exposed to hacking and phishing attacks more easily. IT consultants can help businesses identify the technologies and tools that support remote work while ensuring the IT systems remain secure and efficient.
An experienced IT consultancy will help you create suitable processes and endure the significant cultural shift introducing remote work brings. Their professional support will ensure your business stays safe from external threats. They will propose solutions to monitor employees’ work output and otherwise successfully adapt to the changing needs of your industry.
Pick an IT consulting partner fit for your business needs
In this interconnected world, organizations of all sizes rely upon technology. But not all businesses have the capacity to build an IT department. Not all IT departments can attract enough talent to simultaneously perform everyday work and devise modernization strategies. This is why small and medium enterprises that work with IT consultants increase their chances of efficiently growing their businesses.
Maxima Consulting supports SMEs in leveraging cutting-edge technology efficiently and reliably. We want to see our partners grow, and we want to aid their success. If you’re looking for an IT consulting partner, contact us today and see how we can help you thrive in the coming years.