It is one thing to claim that a regional IT Consulting company is good at what it does or that “hundreds of satisfied clients can attest to its success.” It is another to backup those claims with real methodology that is consistently successful, replicable, and transparent, even in a large market such as Los Angeles where there are so many IT Consulting companies. Then the question arises, how does a prospective client determine IT Consulting firms that have raised themselves above the amature line from those that have not.
We can use an example to demonstrate how this would work. Let’s say a company is looking for an IT Consulting company in Los Angeles for one of its regional offices located in the Los Angeles area. The local office has around 40 machines that have several servers, including a data server, a Blackberry Enterprise Server (BES), an Exchange Server, and several Virtual Servers running application servers such as MAS 200 and a bar code / electronic paper storage server. When the IT manager is tasked with selecting a local IT Consulting and Support firm, the question arises of what should the criteria be and how do we identify a Consulting firm that is truly looking our for our needs from the ones that just know the terminology. After interviewing several candidates, the IT manager is no closer to the answer than before the process began. The IT manager asked the IT Consulting candidate firms if their staff members have MCP or MCSE or CCNA. Having dealt in the past with professionals possessing these certifications, the IT manager does not have a strong feeling that these criteria will provide assurance of success. What he or she is left with is, just a hunch and a personal feeling of who would do a better job, but not a real answer.
To truly resolve this intellectual impasse, the Los Angeles based regional office needs to ask itself a few questions based on the type of IT network that it is running and the it stated goals.
Based on its current IT system, this company needs to identify a Los Angeles IT Consulting firm that can ensure:
- Timely updates to all physical and virtual servers (timely means that as these updates appear, the impact of their deployment is assessed by a qualified team and scheduled for deployment shortly after they become available)
- The timing of such deployments have to be planned in accordance with the understanding of the operational environment of the local, sister, and parent offices.
- Proactive planning of computer network design and structure to ensure best practices in intrusion security, permission security, data access security, and operational efficiency.
- A streamlined and timely bilateral communication system between all the pertinent technical and administrative departments with the client’s operations with the IT Support firm’s decision makers and operations managers.
- Continuous preventative maintenance and support activity to minimize IT network downtime and inefficiency both at the entire network level, server levels, and nod levels.
Besides these operational goals, the local office would be wise to look for a Los Angeles based local IT Consulting company that can:
- Improve customer satisfaction through a professional approach to service delivery
- Improve IT services through the use of proven best practice processes
- Improve ROI of IT expenditures
- Improve delivery of third party services such as ISPs and others
- Improve morale recipient staff
- Increase productivity of client’s own local IT staff
- Reduce cost of IT system training
- Improve systems/ applications availability
- Reduce cost/ incident
- Reduce hidden costs that traditionally are not easily visible
- Improve asset utilisation
- Be a clear business differentiator from competitors (be a strategic enable for business profitability)
- Closely align to commercial business services and products
- Provide greater visibility of IT costs
- Provide greater visibility of IT assets
Without some sort of a magic wand, how would a potential client, such as our IT manager be able to truly test and/or identify an IT Consulting firm in Los Angeles that delivers these results in deed, not in word? We arrive at an answer, a commitment to an IT services provider standard that encompasses it all. IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) is a standard of performance that an IT Consulting firm should ascribe to and adhere to in order to provide the client with the above goals on a consistent basis. While this standard of performance and a methodology that is not perfect, it give companies much better indicators of what to expect from a potential IT provide. At least, this approach could serve as a viable and operationally pragmatic starting point for an informed selection criteria.