What does an IT Consultant do?
An IT consultant’s role is to provide their clients with expertise and practices in order to help them with relevant IT solutions and services. As a result they will meet their business objectives and overcome problems. A consultant can also give organizational advice, offer guidelines for sourcing and managing the client’s IT resources. The process can include strategic (developing a new IT strategy or cybersecurity approach) to tactical (such as the selection of an IT system) to highly operational (such as the development of an application).
In a nutshell, an IT consultant focuses on advising organizations on the best ways to use information technology (IT) to achieve their business goals.
Why should you choose Consulting?
An important facet of today’s economy is that it’s rapid and ever-changing. It’s in a lot of companies’ interest to find ways to cut costs and contract work out to consultants. However, the risk of not maintaining a job is high and most often relies on the success of the company you’re working for. Therefore being a consultant where you’re self sufficient and successful on your own terms in an economy of uncertainty is in your best interest.
The goal is to find a job that suits your skill set and abilities while simultaneously making money that is worth your time and expertise. The main question is, however, whether you know your objective and whether you’re aware of the approaches.
1. Know your motivation
There is a conventional process that most consultants follow when it comes to undertaking their tasks: First of all, you define the problem the client is facing. Second of all, you collect the necessary resources and data. After that, you can go ahead and consider the potential solutions. You then present recommendations, and implement them. Following this simple approach is a first step towards client satisfaction. Before going into the client process, you need to establish your own motivation. To find out where your motivation lies you need to ask yourself relevant questions in relation to the specific consulting field. Such as:
- What marketable skills and experience can you offer to your customers?
- What are you passionate about?
- How is the competition in your niche?
- Which skills are currently in demand in your niche?
- How much money would you like to / expect to make?
If you can answer these questions with confidence, it means you’re on the right track. However, your motivation should not be merely self-satisfactory, it should be largely based on whether you properly carry out your role as a mentor to your client. Basically, the client’s success becomes your success, by guiding them towards meeting their objective.
However, this initiative is influenced by other parties as well: the client’s site representative, the target audience of the solution and the patron who financializes the project. Being an IT consultant, you are mainly targeting the technical goal, but also aiming to reach support for the new system you create for your client. At the same time you are engaging with the target users and reporting before-and-after metrics. Meanwhile, you need to ensure the client’s representative is happy with the use of their budget and resources. The users can also utilise the new system in the same order as their existing system, while the patron is profiting from their financial investment.
2. Apply current IT trends
As an IT consultant it’s greatly beneficial if you stay ahead of the newest IT trends and adopt them into your working process. In the case of client management, utilising these trends can help client tracking through sales process. It can also provide clients with assistance effectively through various IT tools and methods. There are several tech trends that are currently relevant on the market and will be in the next year to come:
Internet of Things / Digital reality
AR, VR, MR, IoT make a difference in human interaction: the devices are merely a tool to unlock interactions and experiences that go beyond human limitations.They are more than just smart devices, they are meant to create a sense of lifelike, intimate feel. The capabilities meant to deliver these experiences are gradually improving through conversational interfaces, computer vision and auditory technologies.
The mass amount of information created by the IoT has the power to revolutionize everything, allowing companies to work more efficiently and profitably than ever before. Advanced analytics promise profound competitive advantages. Consultant companies can translate technology into business value by driving out costs or increasing revenues from the application of big data. They are able to utilise data to generate insights about customers, citizens, operations, and every facet of an enterprise. Companies need to predict and prescribe (recommend a response).
What organizations should consider: information beyond the data that lives in the traditional IT systems. Not just taking data from social feeds. To get data across its own boundaries and data sources that live outside the 4 walls. The goal is to also take the forecasted factors into consideration instead of just past experiences. With analytics it will become easier to implement the actions by using the insights provided by the platform.
Blockchain serves as a digital peer-to-peer asset transaction exchange, that operates through a distributed network of computers in order to help increase the speed of completion and security.
With this technology’s help companies can capture both mindshare and investments. Blockchain’s technology also reshapes human transaction and engagement.
Artificial Intelligence has become mainstream over the years in the digital industry. It’s a technology that has the potential to completely transform the customer experience in the future even more. AI helps companies analyse and test whether their business model fits the customer demand in the most effective and practical way.
[Read also: Best IT Development Podcasts 2019 for consultants]
3. Build trust with your client
As an IT consultant your abilities, skills and expertise have a great influence. Knowing which factors play the most important role from a client’s point of view is in your best interest.
Most importantly, in order for the client to understand why you are the most suitable person to carry out the project, you need to be transparent. Whether that refers to your background, skills, the methods you would like to use to solve the problem and deliver value.
Being prepared with your own questions before the interview and knowing thorough information about the company helps you to come up with a solution that fits the company/client. It also prevents from communication or social barriers.
Effective responses to client demands is a number one priority. There is a great demand for a personalised and tailored approach, building trust, providing more value at the same cost. However, client trust and trust amongst your team is equally important. From the company’s perspective, there is a demand for performance-based working and risk-sharing. Most importantly, a greater need for transparency and information flow. Furthermore, you need to make sure to keep promises and be consistent in your quality. It is vital that you can apply your tech skills at least on a basic level in all the relevant IT programs. Nevertheless, you need to utilise your ability to work independently and be organized at all times.
4. Use the right skill set
First and foremost you need to be adept at interviewing. From the very beginning of the interview you need to be ready to answer questions about your background and skills. Research beforehand is therefore advised at all times. It is beneficial if you describe how you will help solve specific problems in an eloquent manner. Expressing yourself the correct way, using your soft skills is recommended. It makes a positive impression if you articulate yourself clearly and eloquently in a polite manner towards the client.
You need to be able to work independently and simultaneously ensure effective interaction with team members and supervisors. As projects can be short term, it is best advised to adapt quickly to your client’s organization. The goal is to integrate well with the client team, and for that practicing you interpersonal skills is an everyday expectation.
Networking is one of the most influential factors when it comes to gaining clients. Having a personal reputation ensures that your profile is one to look out for from a customer’s point of view. Certifications prove the most effective to clients, recruiters and consulting management about your abilities. IT certifications that suit the client’s needs are just as beneficial. From a salesman aspect, it’s important to proactively seek out projects that further contribute to your already existing skills in order to constantly engage in relevant projects.
[Read also: Why Consulting: The 2019 Ultimate Guide]
5. Carry out your responsibilities
Your role as a consultant essentially serves as a bridge between the technical team and the clients. The main objective is to get a clear understanding of what your client’s business model, strategy and requirements are. Hence you are able to advise the best possible solution and recommend the right technology.
There’s a number of steps to carry out that lie under your responsibilities while going towards the end goal. These include scheduling the time and resources most importantly. Diagnosing and refining challenges to increase business generation opportunities and analyzing threats. Furthermore, defining and analysing software, hardware and network requirements and giving objective advice on their use. You also need to make sure your IT infrastructure is up and running 24/7. The next steps include developing agreed solutions and implementing the new advised systems and preparing documentation and presenting progress reports. Finally, presenting solutions physically and in written or oral reports serves as a last important action.
As an IT Consultant, paying attention to these 5 Steps can provide a clear direction, and hopefully guide you towards success.
At any rate, if you are merely contemplating getting into consultancy or you are brand new to the field, we hope these insights will prove useful to you in your technological or business endeavours.