IT Consulting Services: Complete Guide

May 20, 2020
#Technology #Tips

What do you know about IT consulting services? Do they just help install software or is there more to it? Let’s have a look at what they actually offer.

There are plenty of consulting firms for all kinds of industries and operations. You can hire financial advisors or request security audits, for instance. They exist to provide you with the knowledge that helps you structure your operations better, be more productive, or become a better leader for your staff. Since it’s impossible to be an expert in everything, consultants are there to share their expertise. Just like the aforementioned finance and security, information technology is a sector that practically requires consultants due to its complex technical nature.

Our existence is increasingly reliant on technology and data both in our day-to-day and our work-life. It’s also always changing with practices becoming obsolete in a matter of years and sometimes even months. In business, it’s not enough to simply keep up, which is hard enough already. You need to stay ahead of the curve. And smartly used technology helps you achieve exactly that.

But before diving deep in IT consulting we must first determine why they are needed. There is no better place to start this discussion than digital transformation.

The Relevance of Digital Transformation for Business

Digital transformation (DX) is the fundamental change of a business to a new way of operation facilitated by digital technology. If this definition sounds vague to you, it’s because this practice can vary drastically from one organization to another. That’s the reason IT consulting is often necessary. In order to go fully digital, it’s extremely difficult to keep all the nuances in mind while simultaneously running a company. Depending on how your staff perceives such changes, even one misstep can leave a bad impression and hold you back for years.

Why do so many companies race for this digital transformation like it’s a holy grail of sorts? Let’s examine the most common reasons people name as the impetus for going down this road. These are resilience, future-proofing, and necessary evolution. With so many companies getting that elusive competitive edge and conquering new markets others feel like they need to catch or least keep pace. Depending on the situation, it can be a matter of staying in business at all. That’s the reason you see retailers open up online stores, for instance.

Another major factor is the undeniable efficiency increase. It’s obvious that the analog pen-and-paper operations take up way more time than is needed. Why spend a half-hour looking through filing cabinets when you can just enter what you need in the search field and get that document in seconds? The margin for human error is substantially smaller in some cases and completely eliminated in others. With digital transformation, you become measurably more organized and efficient.

Importance of IT Consulting Services

IT consulting is a type of IT service that provides guidance and education in the field of technology and how it can be applied to the operations of a company or business.

If you ever dipped your toe in the ocean of information technology, you know first hand how overwhelming it may be. There is always a huge assortment of apps, platforms, frameworks, libraries, tools, and solutions. Navigating through it all and picking the best option often seems impossible especially if you don’t possess the proper knowledge and technical background yourself. People who work with all of that every day know better than anyone how daunting of a task it can be. This is why IT consulting services have carved their own niche in the market.

Having a trustworthy unbiased advisor is often vital for any moves you decide to do with your company. Be it the custom software development, business process automation, integration of a new system, IT infrastructure maintenance, or anything of that ilk, assistance is vital. That way you can not only accomplish your initial task but also make it work for you and be profitable and cost-effective in the long-term.

This is the crucial benefit of hiring an IT consultancy firm but it’s far from the only one. We mentioned how it’s financially beneficial but the same can be said about time. Not only do you save you valuable hours by not having to learn a whole entire field of studies and practices but you also save time in your day-to-day operations. This is a hundredfold more true if you have adopted business process automation solutions as a result. That way you save time not only for yourself but for every staff member in your company. You’ll notice a productivity increase and more effective use of resources across the board.

What Does an IT Consultant Do?

As you can see, IT consulting spreads throughout all sorts of business areas. That’s why the job of a consultant is largely dependent on the requirements of your company as well as it’s operations. It’s going to be different between a firm of software developers, a pizzeria, and a major energy enterprise. And yet all of them and everything in between can benefit from IT consulting.

The range of tasks consultants do for you and the topics they provide guidance on is massive. Let’s look at some examples:

  • Which technology stack should you use for your project and why;
  • Time and cost estimates;
  • Outlining the requirements and specifications for the project;
  • Help with system integration;
  • Analysis of an ongoing project with suggestions on what needs changes and improvement and why;
  • Project management aid;
  • Help with the hosting setup and the hardware architecture for the project;
  • Reliable software vendor suggestion;
  • Optimization of the resources you already have;
  • All kinds of audits, from app logs to business processes;
  • Guidance through the process of digital transformation;
  • and much more.

To sum it up, IT consultants provide you with information on what and why you should do in order to maximize your benefits and reach strategic goals.

What does an IT consultant do?

Types of IT Consulting Services

As described earlier in the article, the range of knowledge IT consultants provide covers a lot of ground. That’s why it can be helpful to distinguish different types of it to pinpoint exactly what you require. Here are five areas that constitute the bulk of this type of work:

  • Planning and strategy
  • Technology selection
  • Business structure development
  • Software development consulting
  • IT security consulting

Planning and Strategy Consulting

If you are wondering how I can use technology to achieve my strategic goals then planning and strategy consulting is what you need. First of all, you share your vision with the consultants and the current state of your technology. After that, they provide you with several options of how you can realize it based on their experience and expertise. For example, a brick and mortar restaurant with no IT infrastructure can benefit from an inventory management system or online order processing. After the client chooses the most suitable option in their situation, the consultant helps to plan out further actions and establish a strategy of integration.

Technology Selection

Technology selection comes after the strategy has been determined. An IT consultant’s job at this point is to help the client choose the best possible option on the market for the job. Let’s take an ERP system as an example. There are seemingly countless different solutions all battling for your attention. An IT consultant will help you choose the one most suited for your specific requirements and business infrastructure.

Organizational Structure Consulting

Organizational structure is a defining foundation for business operations and tasks. This type of consulting is often considered to be independent and not necessarily a part of information technology. However, it’s not the case anymore. As new software solutions for task management and allocation develop, it draws closer and closer to IT. Outside of system integration, the entire core structure of a company can be overhauled or established. Supervision and coordination are also increasingly reliant on software. Overall, organizational structure consulting helps businesses operate more efficiently.

Software Development Consulting

Software development is an entire industry with a huge number of subsets, methodologies, and technologies. Many companies, especially smaller or younger ones, pick their niche and stick to it. We’re talking about the development of software of a certain type for a certain platform in a certain industry. But what happens if such a team takes on the project outside their comfort zone? Then it’s the job of a consultant to help them complete it. This ranges from picking the right framework and establishing a good project management infrastructure to aid in deployment on unfamiliar platforms. As you can see, people both with and without technical expertise benefit from IT consulting services.

IT Security Consulting

Hardly anyone would argue the importance of security. Also, it’s widely accepted that technology while being undeniably necessary presents certain risks. IT security consultants help with their mitigation. Keeping the intellectual property safe (personal information, sensitive data, trade secrets) is paramount in any business field. Protection from distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) and other malicious attacks is also essential for any company with any virtual presence. You wouldn’t keep the doors of your office open 24/7 without any alarms or security cameras. The same mindset must be applied to IT security too.

Types of IT Consulting

Enterprise IT Consulting Services

The size of the company matters a lot when talking about IT consulting. The reason for that is the difference in processes, operations, structure, and, more often than not, culture. Uprooting all of that in order to optimize it all is a massive undertaking. Depending on the scale of the organization the transformation can take months if not even longer. Fearing these difficulties the majority of big companies completely ignore the need to keep up with the times under the excuse of “don’t fix what’s not broken”. In fact, the statistics show that only 38% of enterprises have any sort of strategy regarding digital growth.

When change does come, however, it comes from the top. This means that the upper management and decision-makers have to be all in on the idea of DX. But it’s hard to provide proper guidance and leadership when you don’t have the entire yourself. That’s the reason so many enterprises partner with IT consulting companies. It’s their job to always keep their finger on the pulse of the latest technology and best practices while also educating people on the ways to upgrade their business.

Since enterprises have inherently larger budgets, opportunities to go digital are seemingly everywhere. However, it’s also incredibly easy to waste huge sums of money on the software and hardware that nobody uses. That’s another reason to get a consultation before committing to anything. Better to be safe than sorry.

Startup IT Consulting Services

Smaller and younger companies often are more flexible since they don’t have as rigid of a routine. That’s why startups of different sorts take to digital transformation way more frequently than enterprises. Logically it makes sense. It’s cheaper due to the scale of operations and saves money in the long-term.

What makes all types of IT processes easier for small new companies is that they don’t have nearly as much “baggage” as more established organizations. This means that tasks such as data migration are simpler, quicker, and cheaper. This makes up for the limited budget startups often have.

Overall, IT consulting services gear up companies for growth, which makes them perfect for startups. It helps businesses pick the best options depending on their tasks and plans. While there are plenty of enterprise solutions on the market, every startup is different and therefore difficult to cater to. That is why consultancy firms often partner up with startups to get to the core of their business and provide them with even more personalized assistance.

How BI Helps Increase Business Efficiency

One type of system you can hear most of IT consultants praise and urge you to adopt is business intelligence software. It’s easy to see why. BI provides statistical insight into your business and helps you make important and informed decisions. In a way, this system is a consultant in and of itself especially if it’s AI-enabled. It won’t suggest to you what framework to use for your project (unless your custom BI system has that feature), but it will guide you towards growth via data analysis.

The fact that business intelligence systems are often considered to be enterprise software solutions doesn’t mean they aren’t suited for startups and everything in between. They analyze data and convert it into insights used to make tactical and strategic decisions. These insights can come in the form of graphs, dashboards, maps, charts, reports, and other visual representations. The main purpose of such services is to provide complex information in an accessible, quick, and easily digestible way and that’s something any company finds useful.

Digital Skynet has developed our own business intelligence and management system called IBISS. It is created predominantly for our internal use with all the needs of an IT and software development company in mind. By combining in itself such features as ERP, CRM, smart financial analytics, HR operations management, and much more.

That’s why business intelligence is an area where we are particularly knowledgeable and experienced. If you want to see IBISS for yourself, don’t hesitate to contact us!

The Range of Digital Skynet’s IT Consulting Experience

IBISS and business intelligence aren’t the only areas of our expertise. First and foremost, we are a custom software development company with over 5 years of experience in the creation of complex systems that help businesses grow. Moreover, that’s the experience we are always willing to share.

Digital Skynet’s consulting experience is always growing but it’s already fairly vast. During our consulting work we’ve helped a large number of our clients. However, we also have a network of partners. We are always ready to help out with whatever we can. As far as our consulting work goes, the most common problems we’ve helped solve are the following:

  • Help with the choice of technology;
  • Project estimation (both the timeframe and the cost);
  • Defining the statement of work (SoW) for various projects;
  • Analysis of the already written code with a report describing what should be removed or improved and why;
  • Help with the hosting setup and the hardware architecture for the project.

This is not an extensive list since it covers more routine tasks that we encounter on the regular. The more complex or more unique jobs are covered by non-disclosure agreements, so sadly we can’t go into much detail about them. However, you are always free to contact us and receive a free consultation whether you need something we described above or anything going beyond. We are certain we can help.

In Conclusion

We hope you have learned something new about IT consulting services. They help you solve pretty much any problems you may have concerning technology or data. Getting a competitive edge and future-proofing your business for years to come is also possible thanks to their work. What’s important is that any company can benefit from an IT consultation regardless of their technical proficiency or scale. So, if you think that it’s something that can be useful to you then don’t hesitate to contact us and get your own free personal consultation.

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