Recently, we were surprised to have a prospective client ask us what she should consider when choosing a technology consultant. Never ones for false modesty we told her to consider us. Once the obligatory guffaws petered out it became clear she was looking for a real answer. Our answer could have been completely self-serving; instead we told her our process for selecting vendors:
- You’re the boss. Regardless of how much or how little you know about technology, your business requirements should drive all tech-related decisions, not vice versa. You want to work with a consultant who asks about your industry, your company, and your existing processes—one who delivers proposed technology solutions that address your specific goals while minimizing the disruption to your workflow and your employees. After all, it’s easier to adjust your technology than it is your employees’ habits.
- References. Chances are the supplied references will say only good things about the consultant. So instead of asking for general opinions and attitudes, use these references to uncover the real scope of the consultant’s services. Ask about systems the consultant supports or provides, how quickly he or she follows up to questions or support requests, or how many employees support the same account. It’s also important to make sure that your references are similar in size, people-wise, to your own firm. Lastly, get a sense of how the consultant handles disputes—it’s a great way to gauge how well he or she values clients.
- Communication. How easy is it to get in touch with your consultant and his/her company? How many direct e-mail addresses and phones numbers does the consultant supply (as opposed to general inboxes or main numbers)? Is there an online ticketing tool? Do you have personal contact info (cell phone number is generally offered)? The more ways you have to reach your consultant and track the work performed on your account, the more likely it is that your messages will be addressed promptly. That’s not to say you’ll always receive a return call within minutes, but it’s tougher to ignore something when you’re getting hit from multiple sides.
- Gut instinct. In the end, you’ll probably choose the consultant with whom you “feel” best, and there’s nothing wrong with that. There simply has to be a certain comfort level when you work with a consultant—just like when you visit a doctor, a lawyer, or an accountant—and the only way to achieve that comfort is to your trust your gut (once you’ve done your homework, of course).
“No Piece can properly be called good, and well written which is void of any Tendency to benefit the Reader, either by improving his Virtue or his Knowledge.” Benjamin Franklin
On account of because. Because it’s there. Productivity is overrated.
Through the cacophony that is the WWW what impact will another weblog really make? Call us delusional (go ahead, it won’t hurt our feelings), but we think the Syzygy 3 Weblog can be a pertinent resource for small- and mid-sized businesses; a place to find practical information on simple and not-so-simple technology topics. Everything you will read (or skim) here will be based on our own experiences and those of our clients. Consider us your Virgil as we guide you through the myriad of circles that make up technology.
So, you’re probably who “we” are. Well, we are Syzygy 3, Inc. (www.syzygy3.com), a technology consulting and integration firm headquartered in New York City. Your faithful weekly contributors to this blog will be Sean C. O’Rourke (SCOR), one of the founders of Syzygy 3, and Leah Hoffmann (LH), a freelance writer with a strong background in technology (http://www.uncommoncopy.com/). Together, we will post a new topic each Thursday and then open things up for questions/comments. There will be iterative postings on occasion just to keep things interesting.
Thanks for joining us and let the fun begin.