• United States
Managing Editor, Network World Fusion

Hiring an IT consultant

Apr 03, 20032 mins
Data Center

* Points to ponder before you commit

Consultants are a lot like technology. They cost money, and while they’re supposed to make your life easier, if they don’t work out right, you’re in for some headaches.

This week’s Management Strategies story in Network World offers advice on what to do before you sign on the dotted line.

Here are some qualities to look for:

* A proven track record.

* A full understanding on your business and industry.

* A list of satisfied clients.

* An open communication style.

* The ability to explain concepts clearly.

Mistakes to avoid:

*  Accepting a bid you know is too low. Chances are you’ll get stuck paying out any “savings” once the project is underway. Costs can spiral if you don’t have the project laid out clearly in advance.

* Not working with your consultant. Once your consultant is finished with your project, you’ll need an in-house expert, right? Develop that expert by having one of your employees work full-time with the contractor. If something goes awry after the consultant is done, you’ll have someone in-house who can fix it (and you won’t have to pay a consultancy fee).

* Giving the consultant too much control. It’s your project and your money, why is the consultant dictating everything? To ensure costs and deadlines don’t get out of hand, require weekly status reports from the consultant. Also, reserve the right to approve any additional team members the consultant would like to bring on to the project.

Check out this week’s Management Strategies story in its entirety for more advice on how to manage the project and the consultant, more qualities to look for in a consultant and additional mistakes to avoid: