How Do You Pick The Right Technology Consultant?

How do you pick the right technology consultant? It is not the kind of party game that is going to catch on with your family at Christmas, but it is a pastime that could decide your success (or failure) in crucial aspects of your business.

Take the public sector, where £2bn a year is spent on employing consultants and agency staff in Whitehall (see further reading, below). A Cabinet Office study showed that it cost an average of £100,000 a year to employ each consultant and at a time of constrained public spending, over-expenditure on non-permanent workers will not be tolerated.

Things are no simpler in the private sector. One recent report suggested that there are now half a million management consultants globally (see further reading). Finding external expertise is never easy, but how do you pick the right needle from the consultancy haystack in such cost-constrained times?

More specifically, what expertise should you look for and what guidelines and services will create consultancy that works for your business? Your selections should be based around four guiding principles: knowledge, partnership, commitment and experience.

First, look for a consultant that understands the technology you are about to implement. Do not simply employ the same consultancy every time. Each job has a different requirement and the non-permanent nature of contractors should give you the option to be choosey.

Then make sure you look for a service team that will be able to work with your existing in-house team. There is no point upsetting trusted permanent staff by contracting ‘know it all’ external experts who actually know very little.

Also pay attention to the breadth of a particular consultancy’s service offering. Big is not necessarily best and you should concentrate on the firm that will be able to provide a long-term commitment across crucial areas, such as design, migration and deployment.

Finally, trust experienced service providers and always select a firm with best practice references. Advanced Business Solutions is able to boast more than 512 man years of experience and over 100 specialists across various consultancy teams, for example. It is this kind of expertise that can mean selecting a consultant does not have to be a painful process.

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Dean Dickinson is Managing Director of Advanced Business Solutions, formerly COA Solutions. Dean has been in the finance software business since 1990. He was part of the senior management team at QSP/Arelon prior to the acquisition by COA Solutions at which time he became Deputy Managing Director for the business as a whole. Since the acquisition of COA Solutions by Advanced Computer Software Group in February 2010, Dean has become Managing Director for Advanced Business Solutions. He is a specialist in consultancy and has a strong knowledge of business processes within a high volume/high value environment.