Unemployment in the tech industry sits at just three percent, far lower than the national average of 5.8 percent. This points to the mentality of many organizations that when you find a good IT worker, you should hire them. However, taking on full-time hires isn’t always the best strategy. Here are five signs that suggest you should hire an IT consultant instead.
You Have a Special Project
Image via Flickr by Kevin Dooley
IT consultants bring with them specialized knowledge that can be very useful when it comes to completing projects outside your company’s usual scope. You probably don’t expect your IT staffers to have the knowledge of Oracle’s Mark Hurd, and it would cost a significant amount to provide the training they’d need to get it.
An IT consultant can bring that knowledge to your company in the short term so you can complete the project. As an added bonus, your regular staffers will no doubt learn a thing or two from the consultant, and then may feel confident enough to tackle similar work in the future.
You Have an Outstanding Issue
While you likely employ skilled IT professionals, it’s already established that they won’t know everything. From time to time, companies will face issues that are difficult to resolve. If your workers have tried and failed repeatedly to correct a problem, it may be time to bring in an IT consultant.
Consultants have a range of technical advice, complete diagnostics information, and repair knowhow which they can apply to difficult problems. They can look at your situation with fresh eyes while your regular IT workforce is more effectively utilized on other tasks.
Your Workload is High
A consultant can help your IT team deal with spikes in their workload. Their tasks may not be outside the scope of their regular duties, but during busy periods and as deadlines approach, they may start feeling the pressure. Studies show that 43 percent of IT professionals feel that an unmanageable workload is their greatest source of professional frustration.
An extra pair of hands can lighten the load for all employees and help them avoid burnout. People under pressure are also more likely to make mistakes, so with a consultant on board, you’re more likely to get the best from your busy employees.
You’re Not Progressing as a Company
Companies can often get stuck in a rut. Board members and other decision makers take on a particular mindset which can inhibit progress and growth. Bringing in an IT consultant can help break this bad habit and revive a business.
An IT consultant doesn’t have the same level of investment as regular employees, so he or she can provide an unbiased perspective of operations. Consultants also work with a variety of companies with different organizational structures, and can apply that knowledge and experience to your company.
As an outsider, an IT consultant often feels more comfortable speaking up with alternative strategies, as he or she rarely feels the same pressure to toe the party line. In some cases, a consultant may even be able to bring the views of lower-ranked IT employees to light. And if members of the board or key staff members disagree about which approach to take, an IT consultant can help break the deadlock.
You’re Struggling to Reach Clients
IT professionals have a reputation for being introverted, awkward individuals who feel more comfortable interacting with computer screens than real people. While there are exceptions to the stereotype, many IT workers do struggle to interact with clients. As IT consultants must promote themselves and network to stay in business, they’re likely to be strong communicators. This non-technical skill can be valuable for any organization struggling with client outreach.
If you notice lapses in support or poor sales, an IT consultant may be able to turn the situation around. IT consultants can help identify new clients and build relationships with existing ones to get a company back on track.
When you notice these signs, it may be time to consider getting out of the traditional hiring mindset and employing an IT consultant.