When you hire an IT consultant, you are handing over to a third party access to your organization’s critical information systems and software

Q. How many consultants does it take to change a light bulb?
A. One to change the bulb and two to write the strategy and tell him what he did wrong.

Just like lawyer jokes, there’s no shortage of consultant jokes. But the truth is hiring an IT consultant is no laughing matter.

Think about it – when you hire an IT consultant, you are handing over to a third party, access to your organization’s critical information systems and software. You are also trusting that person to map out a strategy that will impact your workforce and its operations.
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That’s why finding the right person to provide you this service is crucial.

Here are eight suggestions from IT executives on what you should look for in an ideal IT consultant:

Experience – Make sure the consultant you hire has adequate experience “and success” in dealing with companies of your size and type, according to Morris Tabush, consultant for Tabush, a New York-based IT consulting firm.

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Determine any consultant-vendor relationship – Are you in the market for an independent consultant or one who is affiliated with a particular vendor? On one hand a consultant affiliated with a particular vendor could be an advantage if you are looking for expertise in that specific product. On the other hand, you might find yourself buying into a product line you don’t want or need if an IT consultant has a special interest in pushing products of a particular vendor if they stand to gain commissions or referral fees for doing so.

Find out if the consultant resells a vendor’s product and if they receive any commissions when a particular vendor is selected, suggests Laura Pettit Rusick, founder of IT management services firmOPT Solutions Inc.

Review samples of previous works – Before hiring the consultant ask to see the candidate’s portfolio and check out community sites such as GitHub, Coderbits or CloudSpokes, said Dave Messinger, chief technology officer of CloudSpokes, a community of software developers. While references are important actual work samples provide you with a better sense of the candidate’s quality of work.

Find out more about background checks and the five critical questions you should ask before hiring an IT consultant, here

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