The great availability of IT solutions and the variety of software tools available to businesses nowadays has made the IT consultant profession essential and much sought after. A good information technology consultant offers the know-how and the experience necessary to help customers devise the best possible IT infrastructure for their needs.
Technical ability, however, is not the only requisite that IT consulting professionals need to have in order to provide the best possible customer service. He or she also has to have the interpersonal and listening skills necessary to understand what clients really need and not only what they want. These professional needs to be able to guide and counsel the customer through the wide range of products available on the business technology market. They are the advisors to help clients decide on what is essential to take its business to the next level.
The objective is to make sure that clients do get what they want as long as it makes sense for their operations and it is also what the business really needs. This is central to create a system that can really aid the growth of the business while still remaining cost-effective and user-friendly.
Knowing that the consultant has been hired to help the client overcome a particular problem and make recommend a solution, specific consulting approaches do, however, vary. That is to say that consulting styles are obviously different from professional to professional. On that note, here are five basic principles that guide the daily work of all good IT consultants; they are covered next.
The first essential principle of IT consulting is “focus on relationship.” It is essential to build a proper and open relationship not only with the client but also with all stakeholders. This is important to keep an open dialogue that can help the IT consultant become aware of the real needs of a business beyond the wants and requests of the client. By fully understanding the requirements of the job to be performed and the limitations and constraints that are currently present, the professional can better advise and provide guidance through the number of choices that the client will inevitably need to make. The result is an infrastructure tailored to the specific needs of a business in terms of operational needs, users’ capacity and budget.
The second principle to be applied is “definition of roles.” Through the proper applying of the first principle, the IT consulting professional can also clearly understand the roles of all parties in the client’s organization. At the same time the professional can clarify his or her role as an advisor and set boundaries. It is also important for clients and stakeholder as well to have clearly-defined active roles; but it will be the client who ought to make it clear who is responsible for which decisions in all phases of the project.
The third important principle is “success visualization.” This principle is much linked to the communication skills of the IT consultant who needs to be able to help clients visualize the end result while still in the planning phase. This step is important in many different ways: It helps the professional manage clients’ expectations, but it also allows them to visualize what the system will look like in the end and think of any modifications and/or additions, including modifications that could make its use more effective or just easier.
The fourth principle is a tough one to implement as it taps into the capability of the IT professional to step down and let the client keep full control of the decision-making process: “you advise, they decide.” It is the clients’ role, since they know the company and their job best, to make most of the decisions regarding the new system to be implemented. The IT consultants can advise and propose what is most likely the best possible technical solution for a business according to his or her observation; in reality, however, clients will have to live with the system so it is in their right to make the important planning decisions: After all, they know what they want/need; moreover, they know their budget and the company staff is capable of when it comes to using technology.
The fifth principle of good IT consulting is “orientation toward results.” This might sound like an obvious principle, but it sometimes does not happen. Therefore, it is important to always remember that all actions and decisions must contribute to the expected final result. The IT consultant needs to be able to advise on all possible technical solutions as well as training and support needed to reach the stated goal of the IT implementation.
As one can visualize, there is much to know about becoming a good IT consultant. The five principles mentioned are sure to encourage many more valued ones in the future.
Essentially, a good IT consultant is one that is a good listener and open-minded to each clients’ unique needs. They are able to face obstacles and technical challenges while making plans for any IT implementation or solution. With Innovative Architects, an information technology consulting firm, for example, clients have this experience. This firm is ready to provide technology consulting excellence at any time for any size business.