How to Select an Appropriate IT Provider

As a company grows in size and scope, it will invariably require IT consulting to determine the efficacy of new technologies. Such technologies could range from outsourcing cloud services or networks to simply installing new equipment.

In order to assure the success of a large IT project, one must first be certain of the need for such a project. One must identify what company services would benefit from the given IT project. Storing data, networking and communicating are prime examples of a company’s key operations, and technological expansion may or may not help in one or all of these areas. For example, a healthcare provider must store massive amounts of sensitive client data, but may consider data storage and security to be outside the scope of its primary function. Therefore, the healthcare company may outsource the management of its data to another company. Public and client relations for the healthcare provider, however, relates directly to the function of the health company’s employees; management will want to discipline or reward its top doctors and nurses. Therefore, client relations services may need to remain in-house.
Continuing with the example of the healthcare provider, management of patient’s records may differ from management of financial data. So in choosing a provider for data storage, the healthcare company will want to look at the success of the IT provider specifically in the health services industry. A strong track record in storing financial data may not lead to a successful management of patient information. That said, a healthcare provider may well want to find a company to help manage its finances in addition to managing patient records. In such a case, multiple IT providers may be required. A company should not be shy in having multiple providers bid on a specific project, or even on certain aspects of a large project.
In terms of IT consulting, one must be sure the consultant understands the needs of the client company. The consultant should not simply follow the client’s directives – the point of obtaining a consultant is that the client is not an expert in the consultant’s field. In other words, if the IT consultant does not point out problems or new solutions, they may not be doing their job to the fullest. The consultant should be able to provide a predicted ROI with the new IT service, spot risks and possible failures in the course of the project or even after the project has completed (i.e. service outage) and discuss possible compensation or solutions before the problems arise. The consultant should also identify the effects of the project on staff and resources; a new service within a company will most likely require new resources and staff or relocation of old staff.
Even without an IT consultant, the company should work to identify hidden costs. It is important to understand that new software may require new hardware, and vice versa. The company should know if security services cost extra, if there is a usage cost after installation, if tech support is provided, and what infrastructure costs may be incurred. The company should also have a way to monitor the effects of the new project during and after its installation.
In a last point of interest, the company should always plan ahead. In other words, if the company is acquiring new services due to growth, the company should plan for continued growth. Upgrading to accommodate the current company requirements may illicit a second upgrade in the near future.