Understanding IT Consulting Services
What Are IT Consulting Services?
From the point of view of the management of an organization, Information Technology consulting (also called IT consulting or by several other names, such as computer consultancy, business and technology services, computing consultancy, technology consulting, and IT advisory), can be explained as a field of activity that focuses on advising organizations on how best to use IT in achieving the objectives of their businesses.
Why Organizations Need IT Consultants?
IT consulting services require people with specialized IT skills to provide their services to their clients. These people are called IT consultants. IT consultants are employed to fulfill the following objectives:-
- To gain external, objective advice and recommendations.
- To benefit from the consultants’ specialized expertise in that field.
- To provide temporary assistance during a one-time project, where the hiring of a permanent employee(s) is not required or necessary.
- To contract all or part of the IT services to another company, which has the specialized capability to handle the particular situation or requirement.
Key Elements of IT Consultancy
Some of the very important and crucial aspects that an IT Consultant has to consider while rendering services are elaborated below:-
- Prerequisites and Major Obstacles – Once an organization identifies the requirements for taking a business to the next level, the decision-making body will define the scope, cost and a time-frame for completing the project. At this stage, it is the role of the IT consultant or consultancy company to support and nurture the company from the very beginning of the project until the end, and deliver the project not only in the scope, time, and cost but also to the complete satisfaction of the customer.
- Project Scoping and Planning – The usual problem is that at times organizational heads would not be able to visualize the details of what the project is going to deliver until it starts the process. In many cases, the incremental effort in some projects can lead to significant financial losses.
- Business Process and System Design – The scope of a project is intricately linked to the proposed business process and systems that the project is going to deliver. The outcome of a project maybe a new product range or it may result in the discontinuation of unprofitable parts of the business. However, this change will have some impact on existing business processes and systems. The importance of proper documentation of business processes and system requirements cannot be overemphasized as these are very fundamental to the project scoping.
- Project Management Support – It has been observed that when there is an employee who has the authority, vision, and influence to drive the required changes in the business, most of the business projects are successful. Therefore, for an organization to be able to effect such crucial changes, it is inevitable that they should have one of such people in their employment. However, the significant skills and experience, required to successfully taken on the project leadership role, are not usually found within a company focused on day-to-day operations. Hence, for crucial projects, outside expertise is often sought from firms, which can bring this specific skill set to the company.
Essential IT Consulting Skills
To be able to effectively advise and carry out the required changes in an organization, an IT consultant needs to possess the following skills:
- Advisory skills
- Technical skills
- Business skills
- Communication skills
- Management skills
- Grit – Courage to tell the honest truth even at the cost of incurring displeasure.
- Critical thinking
- Entrepreneurial spirit
- Problem-solving ability
- Commercial awareness
Most Sought-after IT Solutions
While IT consultancy can be used to find solutions to a wide range of business situations, some of the areas which are most in demand are listed below:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
- Business intelligence and Big Data analytics
- Knowledge Management
- Business Portals
- Internet of Things
- IT Service Management
- Custom software
- Information security
- Image analysis
In the dynamically changing world of IT, it is not possible for every employee or organization to possess all the requisite skills to undertake a given project. It is to fill this vacuum that IT consultants step in. To be successful and relevant, an IT consultant must keep abreast of the technology in his line of work so that he can render the required expertise to the client. While some organizations have dedicated IT consultants, as part of their workforce, most organizations heavily depend on external expertise to overcome this gap in their knowledge base. Therefore, it would be safe to assume that as the complexity and diversity of technology continues to evolve and expand to newer horizons, the scope for IT consultants would continue to increase.