6 Smart Questions to Ask When Hiring an IT Consultant

Utilizing an IT consultant can free up your time to grow your business without having to worry about computer issues and IT support. However, hiring the wrong consulting firm can result in lost time and frustration, so it’s important to ask a few simple questions to ensure that you’ve found the right one. Knowledgeable and experienced consultants should be prepared to answer the following client questions:

Have you previously completed projects similar to mine?

Ask your consultant for detailed overviews of his previous projects, to determine what he has done in the past for clients. He should be capable of speaking in layman’s terms – explaining how he has figured out which attacks pose the greatest risk to his clients, and the steps he took to prevent them from occurring. With this experience the IT consultant should be able to keep the project going, finish it successfully, and be prepared for any challenges he encounters along the way.

What is my company’s most critical security risk?

You really shouldn’t even have to ask a consultant what your most sizable risk is. He should ask you if you’ve already had a risk assessment done and, if not, when you plan to. It’s critical that security decisions be made based on risk analysis, and a consultant should be capable of immediately identifying major breaches. The purpose of this assessment is to ensure that security solutions are customized to suit your particular business needs.

How familiar are you with my industry?

It’s important to ask questions to determine how much industry knowledge your consultant has. Ask him how well he knows your business and industry as a whole, and find out how familiar he is with key applications used in your office. A good consultant will be knowledgeable about the overall needs of your business, and will keep up with trends in your industry.

How will you keep me informed about the work you’re doing?

Unfortunately, IT security consultants sometimes have a tendency to shroud their work in secrecy. If there’s a lack of communication, you will almost certainly be disappointed with the results. To avoid this, it’s critical that the consultant explain the work he will do and the policies and procedures he plans to recommend. It’s also important to clarify where your organization intends to be at the end of the consultation, and how progress will be measured toward that goal.

Do you have the support of a team?

While an IT consultant should be able to come into your business and work with your staff, he also needs the support of his own team. Many large projects necessitate the input of various people, so it’s important to always be certain that there are others available to help when needed. Having access to a wide range of talent, knowledge, and skills only serves to enrich the work being completed by your consultant.

What are some of the major trends affecting the IT industry, and how do you see them impacting the profession?

This is a big picture question, and the trends that the consultant identifies are not as significant as his ability to name broad industry trends and communicate their impact. In essence, you’re assessing whether or not the IT consultant is capable of thinking broadly about what is happening in the industry, and determining if he actively monitors changes as they take place.

According to Robert Half, “Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.” Ensure that you ask the right questions when choosing your next IT consultant.