Having a lawyer and accountant is SO IMPORTANT. However, many smaller businesses don’t realize the important of a good small business technology consultant in their business.
You should have someone who can help you online (web site, ecommerce); with securing your data; maintaining your computers and helping you maximize your use of online marketing via blogs, RSS feeds, Podcasts and other social media type initiatives.
Business Technology Partners recently designed and deployed a state-of-the-art voice and data network for Allegaert Berger & Vogel LLP, a major law firm in New York and in Princeton, New Jersey. The New York City-based law firm worked with BTP to upgrade its technology infrastructure, including the installation of VoIP telephones, new Dell desktops, a BlackBerry server, and time tracking and accounting software applications.
I recently asked Joshua Aaron, President of BTP some questions focused on HOW small businesses should work with a technology consultant.
What are some top things small businesses should know about working with a technology consultant
The primary thing to understand regarding technology consultants is that we are here to offer constant support for our clients. Small businesses often cannot afford a full-time technology staff to support the increasingly important, and often complex, necessary technologies it takes to compete in today’s fast-paced business environment.
Your consultant is more than just “that guy who fixes the printer” these days. Even within the small office environment, a support team of experts exists. For instance, a network expert (ie Cisco firewalls/routers/etc), a desktop expert (Microsoft products), and a break-fix technician (previously often referred to as “that guy,” all offer their respective knowledge and abilities. There can also be a senior technician, someone who can design the network, communicate needs to/from the client, and oversee and supervise these teams.
What are some things tech consultants wish their clients knew about them?
That we care. That we are people too. That our role is much different than other outsourced support teams. For example, the person who maintains your AC system does not generally interface with clients on the same level as technology consultancy teams. We have to get more “personal” to effectively design, manage, and support our clients.
How can small businesses ensure they’re not being “taken for a ride” with tech consultants.
Like any service business, you should check references in advance of your selection. Then it is most about trust, which is twofold. As a customer, you can no be afraid to ask a lot of questions. It is our job as consultants to answer any and all of your questions, and to do so in a way that makes you comfortable. Any consultant who brushes off your questions is not doing their job properly. If you start to get that feeling – get a second opinion.
If small businesses don’t know what they need what should they do?
ASK. Seriously, I would tell them to ask questions. With that being said, you need to understand that part of our job is evaluating. That is something we get paid for. Paying a small fee for a network/technology evaluation will often save clients money in the long run. Someone who comes in and offers to work without this caveat is probably NOT the professional to solve your technology issues.
Technology is a “black box” for many, how will they know if what the tech consultant is advising is correct?
Check references, talk to other clients that the consultant has helped with similar problems/solutions, and ask questions. We are consultants, not just technicians.