An IT consultant is a professional who helps companies carry out IT projects. If you need, for example, to implement a CRM system, create a website, audit information security, design an accounting system, select the equipment or create a plan for a computer network, but there is no specialist in the state, the company can hire a consultant for the job.
He will analyze the client’s request, choose the appropriate solution, select the employees, supervise the job and evaluate the quality of the final product.
He can take on projects in one or more areas. This can range from creating a website or an information system on a turnkey basis, from the idea to the finished product to auditing or finding an answer to a specific question. An innovation consultant will also look towards future IT issues that may arise and make plans for dealing with them.
What does a consultant do?
It is very rare for software engineering consultants to undertake the same tasks. Often the projects are very different, as is the allocated budget. To give you some examples:
- Creating an IT system for a medium or small business.
- Creating an IT system for a large company with all the business processes.
- Integration of different systems into one.
- Software or security audits.
- Task definition and audit.
The first meetings with a customer, when the getting-to-know-you phase takes place and information gathering is often similar. It is not always easy to understand what kind of help is needed, what kind of problem the client is trying to solve, and for what purpose.
First, and sometimes the only task of an IT consultant is to help the customer understand exactly what they need to do to solve the problem.
At this stage, any information can be helpful. It is important not to work from templates, but to be attentive to details and minutiae and to focus on specific conditions and people. There are bound to be nuances in each case.
What the IT consultant does next varies depending on his or her task. If the goal was to conduct an audit or create a project plan, the specialist draws up a report, which will be the result of the work. It must contain an answer to the customer’s request and recommendations.
Developing MVP, building a work plan
If the project involves more than just an audit, the consultant must propose an action plan.
At this stage, he may deal with the following issues:
- Make a technical design, and select the optimum technology and equipment. Prepare the terms of reference for the contractors.
- Prepare requirements for staff (number, qualifications), infrastructure, and premises if the project involves them.
- Describe the key business processes.
- Select software for implementation, and justify the decision.
- Draw up a phased development plan with a timeline and estimated cost. It is important to consider the customer’s budgets and goals.
More often than not, in any project, a consultant offers several options. If the client is given only one, even if the specialist is confident in it, it will be difficult for the client to believe and agree that this is the best solution. Especially since the client often understands the specifics of his business better, and his choice may be more justified.
You have to be able to keep an open mind. The consultant cannot allow himself to make recommendations based on personal preferences alone.
Also at this stage, the consultant may draw the client’s attention to features not directly related to IT that the client may not have thought of.
What must be done for successful implementation?
- Select a team of performers.
- Supervise the work, acting as a liaison between management and the technical team at each stage.
- Audit completed solutions.
- Sometimes conduct training sessions for employees.
Often the IT consultant’s work ends after the launch of a project, but sometimes the cooperation continues afterward – customers need help with support and further development of the solution.