Independent external ICT consultants have become an essential part of the business technology ecosystem in recent years.
They can bring fresh perspectives, approaches, specialist knowledge and expertise to help organisations get their most from their technology, solve existing challenges, or deliver new projects.
An independent consultant can act as an extension to an organisation’s in-house ICT team and bridge the gap between ICT and senior management.
They can also allow organisations to bring in specialist skills and support where needed on a temporary or contract basis, rather than having to recruit permanent staff.
Many businesses and organisations use ICT consultants, from SMEs or small charitable organisations looking to migrate their operations to the cloud, to public sector organisations requiring strategic support for large-scale digital transformation projects.
Here, we take a closer look at the role of an independent ICT consultant and the benefits of using one.
What is an external ICT consultant?
Independent ICT consultants are individuals or companies that work with businesses and organisations to solve their ICT problems.
It might be small businesses that have no in-house ICT resource and need support to set up or improve their networks and infrastructure. Or it could be larger organisations with an in-house ICT team that has general expertise across a range of disciplines but lacks specific knowledge or skills in a particular ICT niche.
In a case like this, an ICT consultant would come in to help bridge the gap and deliver a project or system.
While some ICT consultancies offer a wide range of services, many ICT consultants usually focus on a specific area of ICT. These include cloud services, data backup, business continuity and disaster recovery, ICT strategy and planning, network operations, cybersecurity and compliance or Office 365 design.
An ICT consultant will usually come into your business or organisation, work with your in-house team to review your current provision and understand any issues or challenges. They would then develop a solution to solve your problems or help you achieve your objectives.
They will also recommend the technologies or services you need to invest in to achieve your goals and, in most cases, oversee the project’s delivery before handing it over.
The benefits of working with an independent ICT consultant
Regardless of the size of your organisation, an expert ICT technical consultant will be able to help you improve efficiency, streamline processes, enhance collaboration and increase productivity.
They can also have a significant strategic, financial and logistical influence on your organisation to help you achieve your objectives and get more from your technology.
The benefits of working with an independent ICT consultant include:
When it comes to ICT, if you don’t get things right at the outset, it can hold your organisation and your employees back, resulting in frustration, wasted resource and opportunity cost.
An external ICT consultant can work either independently or with your in-house team to help resolve your long-standing ICT challenges and allow your team to focus on what they do best.
Enhanced knowledge and expertise
Technology is constantly evolving. New solutions and innovations are continuously introduced into the market, making keeping up with the latest trends in an ever-changing landscape a huge challenge.
A specialist ICT consultant will be able to bring the latest expertise, knowledge and skills into your business that your in-house team doesn’t possess and pass them on so your organisation can reap the benefits.
They can also provide an objective and independent viewpoint. An in-house ICT resource can often be blinded to some options or driven by the need to get value from prior purchases because they installed the solution that’s causing the problem or needs replacing.
Implementing new technology comes with its own unique set of challenges.
Without specialist expertise and support, the rollout of new technology can result in downtime, misconfiguration and errors. All of these can impact your team’s productivity and your bottom line. An ICT consultant can help oversee major technology and digital transformation projects to ensure that any common issues are swiftly dealt with and rolled out as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Maintaining an in-house ICT department is a significant investment. All too often, your team will be firefighting to maintain business as usual, rather than delivering services that improve productivity and organisational efficiency.
An ICT consultant can provide a fresh pair of eyes to identify where the bottlenecks are, where improvements can be made and what technologies you need to invest in to support your strategic objectives and bring about efficiencies and cost savings.
Cybersecurity is a top concern for businesses of all sizes. With new threats emerging all the time and the onset of GDPR placing huge responsibilities on organisations to protect their customer data, remaining secure and compliant is a key challenge.
An ICT consultant specialising in cybersecurity will be up to date with all the latest threats and help you identify network vulnerabilities and develop and implement a cybersecurity solution that keeps your networks and data safe and compliant.
How can an external ICT consultant help make my business more secure?
As we’ve said above, an external ICT consultant can add value to your organisation in many ways, including:
- Support for WAN migration
- Firewall Replacement
- Check on M365 Security
- Road-mapping your application portfolio
- Migrating from on-premise into SharePoint
Your business or organisation may not possess the in-house knowledge or expertise to work through these processes effectively. This is where an experienced external ICT consultant comes into their own.
They will be able to provide you with an impartial, objective and expert view of your organisation and the risks it faces, along with the technical leadership required to develop and implement a security strategy effectively.
They will also be able to identify any ICT security measures you may need to implement and build a strong business case to support your organisation’s investment in them.
Again, your in-house ICT resource may not have the knowledge or expertise to be able to do this, nor have the influence within your organisation to secure approval for your senior leadership team.
An external ICT consultant can help bridge that gap and gain the buy-in you need to proceed.
Benefits of working directly with an ICT consultant, rather than via an agency
Working with an independent ICT consultant directly rather than via an agency can also help your organisation save money while achieving the right technology outcomes.
The standard agency approach is to charge by day rate to come in, do what the client asks, then bill the number of days worked at the end of the project, regardless of what’s been delivered.
On the other hand, an independent ICT consultant would look at the project as a whole, look at the outcomes that need to be delivered and price accordingly. They would be held accountable for delivering against those outcomes rather than simply turning up on their contracted days.
For example, suppose the client wants some consultancy completed looking at whether SD-WAN is right for them or not for when they replace their traditional WAN when the contract ends.
Via an agency, a contractor is appointed to write an options analysis, including background research. The initial contract is for three months, with one week’s notice to terminate and an option to extend. The agency charges the customer £700 per day and pays the contractor £500 per day, making a £150 cut for each day worked.
Assuming the contractor works 20 days per month for the initial term, the agency would make £42,000 and pay its contractor £33,000.
The advantage to the client with this approach is they don’t have to worry about tightly defining the deliverables. They can just budget for the time worked.
However, since they are paying by the day, there is no guarantee the work will be completed in the period. There’s also no incentive for the contractor to complete the project rapidly – they are paid per day, so will want to ensure they get paid for as many days as possible. If they fail to deliver in the initial period, they will either get an extension or go elsewhere and pick up another contract.
In this scenario, the agency isn’t concerned about the quality of work or whether the contractor is delivering the work, provided they get their £150 per day. So, the contractor and the agency both have a vested interest in taking as long as possible to complete the work. The client, not the contractor, holds the risk of non-delivery.
The benefit of working directly with an independent ICT consultant in this scenario is that they will quote upfront for the whole project and the outcomes that will be delivered.
They will be clear on the amount of time the project will take and bill accordingly upon completion. For example, they may charge £38,000 for a project that may take 40-50 days to complete, but might be completed faster.
Provided the client is clear on what needs to be delivered, they will pay less for the outcomes they want to achieve, with a guarantee they’ll pay nothing if it’s not completed.
So, the consultant has a vested interest in completing the work rapidly while delivering quality because the consultant, not the client, holds the risk of non-delivery.
The crucial point is, the client and the consultant should both want to work on an outcome basis. The risk can be shared by using a deposit, if the customer is less clear on what they want. This means the consultant can help the customer more clearly define their aims after an initial conversion, to ensure the project delivers the outcomes they are looking for.
After all, the consultant is the expert.
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AMDH can help your organisation reduce costs, improve service delivery, enhance collaboration, boost productivity, and provide better support to staff, stakeholders, and service users.
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We do this by immersing ourselves in your business and collaborating with a trusted network of partners as required.
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