If you’ve been with your IT consultant for several years and the relationship is very cushy and sweet, it’s about time you re-evaluate the relationship, for the sake of your business.
SMB Nation East took place this weekend in New Jersey and one of the big lessons learned at the 3 day event, of which I attended Friday, was the differentiation between those IT consultants who still are “only” able to fix your computers when things go wrong, but not able to provide strategic insight to help you grow your business.
These are indeed two different types of IT consultants.
Ask your IT Consultant three questions, to determine, if they are up to snuff to help you use technology to grow your business.
What books have you recently read?
Every business professional – be they your lawyer, IT consultant, accountant or plumber, should read a book (ebooks are fine) or in some way digest substantive information to help them stay sharp and self educate themselves. The only way your IT consultant can help you grow is if they, themselves are growing as well.
If they have not read any business books recently, as in over the past several weeks. That’s a problem.
What industry conferences have they been to?
SMB Nation is one of the best conferences for IT consultants to learn technical skills (Windows Server 2000, virtualization, etc) and to learn about business growth (marketing, cash flow, etc).
If your local IT consultant, at least once a year is not going to an industry conference, be concerned.
What tech industry relationships (and certifications) do they have?
Most all tech vendors have some level of certification for IT consultants. There are partner certifications (where you might have to sell a certain level of the IT vendor’s product) and then there are competency certifications where you have to show that you are technically competent in a certain area.
Be concerned if your IT consultant is not independently verified by a tech vendor or some other trade organization.
Microsoft has a small business specialist distinction, in addition to other distinctions.
Symnatec, Cisco,HP, Dell, and many other vendors have a variety of certification programs for their partners.
In this post, I’m referring to traditional IT consultants but those professionals helping you with Quickbooks and other software also have certification programs available to them.
Beyond these three questions other things you want to consider in your relationship with your IT consultant:
- An IT consultant who claims to be a social media expert is most often lying.
- An IT consultant who claims to be a web designer is most often lying.
- An IT consultant who talks more than they listen is no good.
- An IT consultant who does not take the time to know about your business does not deserve your business.
- An IT consultant who does not have most of its customers wildly excited about their service should probably not be hired.