The process of hiring a competent computer consulting firm can be difficult, particularly for those companies not entrenched in the IT industry. Once you start interviewing prospects and get past a basic set of questions about the type of computer consulting firm you are interviewing, you can use the following questions and guidelines provided by Computer Consulting 101 to delve deeper into the financial aspects of your IT needs and figure out if the firm is the right one for you.
1. Is the computer consulting company a reseller, “pure,” or a hybrid technology provider? Ask if the company resells tech products, including hardware and software, if it is a profit center or if you can shop for products elsewhere. Make sure you know also the firm’s policy on purchasing needs analysis and procurement if you do buy your products elsewhere. Also ask if there are other vendors, including ISPs and telephone companies for which the firm is an agent or affiliate, and if there are commissions or referral fees attached to certain vendors.
2. What are some costs, hidden charges and billing procedures for the computer consulting firm? What is the firm’s payment terms, rates and hourly billing minimums, and what is considered billable hours? Does the company charge for travel time, telephone support and e-mail or online support or remote support? Is there a specific hourly rate attached to after-hours and emergency service, and what types of items would fall into these categories? Are there support contracts, and how much do they cost?
3. Does the computer consulting firm have references, case studies and testimonials? Ask the company to tell you about some long-term small business accounts, along with a recently signed-on client. Also get information about a small business client that did not work and why it didn’t work and ask for references.
4. What is the firm’s policy on research and development and keeping skills up-to-date? How does the computer consulting business keep up with new developments in technology? What are clients billed for and what is internally absorbed? Get as many details as possible.
5. What is the computer consulting firm’s approach to knowledge transfer and training? How do the consultants feel about hand-holding and in-depth user training within your company? What kind of user and tech training is provided? You also should determine if the company is willing to train internal IT administrators to be more self-sufficient, even if it means less billable hours for its consultants.
Blogged By: Computer Consulting 101 Professional Kit