How to choose the right IT consulting firm for your SME
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of many economies. But more often than not, they have limited resources and staff, which can pose a challenge when it comes to effectively managing their IT infrastructure and operations. IT consulting services are often an effective solution to this issue and the best way for SMEs to stay on top of the latest tech trends in their industry. Read further to learn why businesses work with technology consultants, the benefits of such cooperation, and the common services consulting companies offer.
Why do SMEs decide to work with IT consultants?
Just as industrialization revolutionized the manufacturing processes, which impacted the whole economy and society at large in the 18th and 19th centuries, computerization and digitalization are transforming the world today. Information technology is already a core part of all businesses, and every organization depends on it in one way or another.
But navigating the ever-changing technology landscape in order to grow your business is increasingly complex, and it may seem outright impossible on a tight budget. Following new technology developments often results in significant investments. You have to buy the proper hardware and software that only highly-skilled experts with big salaries know how to set up correctly. Your employees need to learn how to use it - or you have to find someone new to do it. Then there’s a question of maintenance and support.
This is why more and more companies decide to work with IT consultants. These experts provide realistic advice based on current knowledge and industry analysis. After considering your existing resources, a good consultant will devise a strategy on how to optimize your IT infrastructure, systems, and processes to achieve goals and stay competitive - for a fraction of the cost of hiring a full-time employee.
Some IT consulting companies work only with giant corporations, but Maxima Consulting is proud to support companies of all sizes. Some of our clients maintain small IT departments, while others employ thousands of engineers. We know the concerns of small, medium, and big companies from experience and provide a wide range of services to aid them.
Every consultant at Maxima is an expert in their niche and has vast experience in similar projects and relevant technologies. Small and medium companies can work with them for a limited time to solve existing issues and develop new ideas based on market research and industry insights. Our professional IT consultants provide SMEs with the technology, tools, and forward-thinking strategies they need to drive growth.
How do small and medium businesses benefit from IT consulting?
Some small and medium business owners don’t want to hire IT consultants, as it’s often seen as an additional expense. A dependable staff many SMEs enjoy often proves to be incredibly clever and versatile. But there is no way a small number of people with a finite amount of time can perform everyday tech-related tasks while spearheading your digital transformation efforts. While hiring someone with the right attitude and knowledge can be difficult and costly, IT consulting guarantees proven expertise and provides many other benefits to SMEs.
Improved efficiency and productivity
To stay profitable, small and medium-sized businesses need to operate efficiently in highly-competitive environments. An external IT consultant proficient in your industry can come in and optimize your processes and workflows, automate repetitive tasks, and streamline operations. Most such consultants have already created hundreds of processes in their careers. They’ve seen how successful businesses function and which minor improvements yield tremendous rewards. Using their expertise and unique insight, they focus on delivering results - improvements to efficiency and productivity.
An external IT consultant can be expensive. But if they can identify areas where cutting costs is possible, you will save a lot more in the long run. For example, lowering the total cost of cloud ownership by 30% will impact all your future cloud bills. Such a consultant can support you in getting more value out of your existing resources. Sometimes even minor improvements significantly increase the productivity of a whole team. With smart processes, your business can be more effective without increasing operational costs. This is why IT consulting services should be considered an investment, not just a cost.
Risk mitigation and improved data security
Although digital technologies have brought many benefits to society, it’s important to remember that they have also introduced new threats. Cyber attacks, such as ransomware attacks, happen every day, and companies of all sizes are compelling targets for cybercriminals. Since the finest cybersecurity experts are rarely found working in SMEs, these companies often seek IT consultancy partners to support them in ensuring the security and integrity of data. Even if someone knows cybersecurity basics, it’s extremely difficult to see weaknesses in systems and practices they are accustomed to. But an external consultant specializing in information risk management will quickly learn what has to be improved.
Maxima’s expert IT security consultants utilize the NIST cybersecurity framework to design comprehensive risk management programs. They identify potential risks and vulnerabilities in your IT systems and processes, devise ways to protect your data and detect incidents in a timely manner, and put strategies in place to effectively respond to threats and recover your systems as fast as possible.
Access to expert knowledge and skills
An unquestioned advantage IT consulting companies bring to SMEs is access to first-rate IT specialists who typically prefer corporate or startup employment for financial and prestige reasons. These experts possess a deep understanding of the latest technologies and best practices, often combined with niche but in-demand IT skills. Part of their jobs is to keep up with the rapidly changing technology industry, and they are usually very passionate about it - they live and breathe technology. While many small and medium businesses still rely on technologies developed in the early 2000s, the help of such a consultant can quickly get them up to speed and equipped to leverage future-proof solutions used by the most successful companies in the world.
Scalability and flexibility
When an SME wants to quickly introduce important improvements, a time-consuming recruitment process can become a clogged bottleneck, stopping the progress altogether. Meanwhile, external IT consultants can come in as staff augmentation, fill the gaps, perform the necessary work, and leave once their job is done.
Enterprises that need a permanent employee but have issues finding a suitable one prefer a contract-to-hire approach, where consultants first support you as external contractors but join your company as FTEs after proving themselves. Either way, technology consultants can help businesses scale their IT infrastructure and processes to meet their evolving needs and adapt to rapid market shifts.
Common IT consulting services that small and medium businesses utilize
Small and medium enterprises can enjoy many different IT consulting services. Still, some of those, such as cybersecurity consulting and cloud optimization services, are more prevalent in the SME space than others. Below, you’ll find a list of the most popular ones.
- Cybersecurity consulting - assessing and mitigating security risks for businesses and organizations. It’s rising in popularity as the number of security experts is very limited, and the number of threats increases yearly.
- Cloud computing consulting - transitioning to and management of cloud-based infrastructure. The cloud has many benefits for SMEs, but a failed cloud migration can be very expensive and even cause harm to a business.
- Digital transformation consulting - utilizing technology to improve operations and processes. Many businesses rely on manual processes that were developed a long time ago. A big part of this work can be automated by leveraging new technologies.
- IT strategy consulting - developing a long-term IT plan that aligns with the business objectives of an SME. Every business has unique goals that a successful IT strategy has to work towards.
- Software development consulting - supporting custom software design, development, and deployment. Having all the talent in-house is challenging, but consulting companies can quickly assemble an experienced team to handle your entire software project.
- IT project management consulting - management of complex IT projects, including planning, budgeting, and resource allocation. IT projects become very expensive if badly planned or poorly executed, but a specialized consultant can help your team go through all development stages on time.
- IT outsourcing consulting - planning and executing the outsourcing of some or all of your IT needs to a third party. With outsourcing, your employees can focus on essential parts of your business while your IT vendor delivers the infrastructure, software, maintenance, and user support.
The role of IT consulting in digital transformation
SMEs, like all companies, face unfamiliar challenges when adopting new technologies. Unlike the large players, they also more often face limited budgets, lack of technical expertise, and resistance to change from employees used to legacy systems. At the same time, leveraging IT to improve efficiency, competitiveness, and customer satisfaction can be even more crucial in the case of a family business than it is for a global corporation. This is why IT consulting plays a critical role in the digital transformation of small and medium-sized enterprises.
Below are examples of how IT consultants can help overcome these challenges.
Technology assessment and roadmap development
Our senior consultants can assess the current technology landscape of an SME like yours and identify opportunities for improvement. Once they understand your current situation well, they devise a roadmap containing all steps needed to implement desired technologies and systems.
Vendor selection and implementation
Technology consultants can assist SMEs in evaluating technology vendors and selecting the most suitable ones based on the company’s unique requirements and budget. Maxima Consulting employs experienced seniors who can give reliable advice on the implementation process and ensure the new systems are correctly integrated with existing ones.
It’s often difficult to see how existing processes can be optimized, especially if you’ve been using them for a long time. However, from our experience, most processes can be further optimized with proper automation. IT consultants can find ways for SMEs to streamline their workflows, reduce manual tasks, and improve data accuracy, which leads to considerable cost savings over time.
Managing cultural and organizational shifts is always challenging, but doing that while adopting new technologies is even more so. An experienced consultant can provide training and support to employees, communicate the new system’s benefits, and address their concerns or resistance. Such a person can take the lion’s share of the emotional burden off your shoulders.
Should your company work with an IT consultancy?
Every treatment has to be applied correctly to work as intended. Companies and their projects are always unique and come with their own challenges. When working with external consultants, knowing what they can or should do will set up your business for success. After reading this article, you should understand what services you can expect from a consultancy firm and when such support is needed in a small or medium-sized enterprise.
At Maxima Consulting, IT experts work closely with business owners to assess the technology requirements of their companies and identify areas for improvement. A project usually starts with a thorough analysis of existing IT resources. Based on that, our consultants provide recommendations for hardware, software, and other technology solutions with the goal of improving efficiency, productivity, and profitability. Contact us today to see what we can do for your SME.