Are consultants misunderstood?

The introduction of a new technology into a company is rarely treated with the same respect as other business projects – in fact, it is often regarded as being a totally separate entity.

More disturbingly, IT projects are treated as a cost, and consultants that are utilised to deal with the implementation are considered as increasing the spend, as opposed to adding value.

Because of this, the ‘IT project’ will rarely achieve what it set out to, or give a measurable ROI.

With the formation of any business project, management must be aware of what goals it is setting out to achieve.

IT should be considered an integral part of any innovation that has sparked the interest of a company’s top executives.

An IT director or CIO must be involved as early in the formation of a project as possible – not so far down the line that it is impossible for them to add strategic value through their IT knowledge.

The next step will be to involve consultancy firms into the process.

IT consultants must be aware that ‘selling an IT solution’ is not the be-all and end-all of their work. Their job is to provide the customer with technology that meets business requirements. Failure to do so could be costly and embarrassing for both parties.

Change management issues are often not considered to be integral to a business project’s implementation, such as helping staff ‘buy-in’ to new work processes.

Consultants are in a great position to give practical advice through all aspects of a project. However, they should be wary – when a business project has been mismanaged from the start, their work could be compromised.

There are plenty of examples of consultancies being taken to court for not meeting their obligations.

By fulfilling a certain role for a company and then jumping ship after carrying out your contractual duties will not do neither party any favours in the long run.

  • Kevin Reed edits the consultancy page in Accountancy Age.

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