There are significant costs involved in running enterprise IT.
It's often cheaper to contract this out rather than setting up a full IT department.
Unfortunately, figuring out what kind of IT contractor to hire can be very difficult.
Use this guide to learn more about the IT options available to your organization and make sure you can answer the question what is IT consulting.
What is IT Consulting?
IT consultants provide expert knowledge in a given field. They can help you determine the best available solution to a problem. Often they will also assist you in designing and implementing that solution. IT consultants are excellent problem solvers that apply their expertise to problems in your business.
IT consulting is not the same as IT services. There are several major roles they fulfill that IT services providers do not. Here are the three most important aspects of an IT consultant.
Consultants are generally brought in to provide expert knowledge on a very narrow problem. They offer advice and make recommendations on how to improve your IT operations and streamline processes.
Most consultants are only present for a short period of time. They may help you set up a system but they generally won't be staying around to run it for you.
Their advice is often strategic in nature. Instead of helping you run your current operations they provide you with solutions and ways to improve and upgrade.
Most IT consultancy tasks are goal oriented. They come in to take care of a specific problem and focus on finding the best solution. Often this relates to a purchasing decision or major operational IT upgrade.
Consultants don't deal with day to day operations. They instead review your current and future needs and make a recommendation. This includes your available budget, scalability, operational knowledge, and previous technology used.
In some cases, they will also stick around to help you develop and implement your new system, though this is more a software consultant's job.
Limited Role & Focus
Companies generally don't keep IT consultants around for long.
This may sound like a limitation, but in reality, it is of major benefit to most companies and organizations. If you need the best last mile order management software, bringing in a consulting firm that specializes in that is a great solution. They've seen situations like yours and know what does and doesn't work.
Whats more, they will be familiar with software vendors, service suppliers, and other actors in the field.
IT services providers are on the ground contractors who help keep your systems running. They come in many forms and have wide-ranging expertise.
Software & Support
IT services firms cover almost any type of IT management or repair issue. Commonly available services include:
- Network management
- User assistance and training
- Anti-virus and firewalls
- Software installation
- Server management
- Email systems
- Helpdesk services
Trained and licensed professionals can maintain your websites, VPNs, and ensure all software is up to date. This allows you to outsource the majority of your IT needs.
Many contractors work on an hourly or service based sliding scale. By only paying for IT support when you need it, you can see significant savings.
Small, medium, and even large businesses can benefit from managed support or IT service providers. By contracting out for your helpdesk and computer repair you don't have to pay full-time IT personnel.
Many companies also offer full hardware support. They will set up, maintain, and repair all your company's systems. This includes delicate server builds and the provisioning of proper security protocols.
By maintaining a retainer agreement you always have resources available. Guaranteed on-call support gives you full peace of mind.
Compliance & Security
If you deal with sensitive information IT services firms make even more sense. Many specialize in the management of federally protected information. They are experts in the regulations involved, such as HIPAA compliance. They'll be able to give you certified reports relating to said compliance.
Other services include periodic security audits, compliance reviews, and testing for potential operational weaknesses.
IT as a service
IT as a service, or ITaas, is an evolving trend in IT services providers. It works in much the same way as software as a service (saas), infrastructure as a service (iaas), or platform as a service (paas). These allow you to outsource different aspects of your digital presence and day to day operations to cut costs and improve efficiency.
Software Consulting vs. IT Consulting
If IT consultants focus on recommendations, software consultants shine at implementation. They assist you in rolling out the software you've chosen based on an IT consultants recommendation.
This happens in several different ways. The most basic software consulting services focus on installing new software and training your users. Generally, this doesn't include any customization beyond perhaps a branded UI skin.
Software consultants can also help you take a generic software suite and customize it to your specific needs. Many software vendors specialize in creating customizable software for different users. This is common practice for HR, supply chain, and other types of corporate software.
These types of consultants may also assist you in implementing a new saas. This allows you to have your users trained by a certified expert. The benefits of this are numerous.
Consultants generally specialize in one type or industry of software. Many software vendors provide customization consultants as part of a new software purchase. This allows you to bundle the cost of the software and its customization together, realizing significant savings.
Identify Your Needs and Improve Efficiency
Now you know the difference between IT consulting, IT services, and software consulting. You're in a good position to answer the question of what is IT consulting. Armed with this knowledge you're prepared to choose the IT provider that best fits your needs.
To find out more about the cost-cutting potential of IT services and consulting, contact us here.