THOMSON REUTERS ELITE

SPRING 2014 EDITION

Forefront

The Top 5 Questions You Need To Ask
Your IT Consultancy Firm – Before You Hire Them

By Jag Dhariwal, Director, Global Services, OLAP Vision

You've just bought this wonderful software and assigned the task of hiring the IT consultants to complete the implementation. The reality is, your choice of IT firm may influence the success or failure of the project. With this in mind, we've put together some tips that will help ensure your projects success.

1.

Does the firm have experience (vs. longevity)?

This seems like such a basic question, but it's important and you need to able to distinguish between all the acronyms for "experience." For example, many consulting firms claim they've worked in the IT field for over 20 years. That's great, but what have they been doing these last few years, and is it even relevant to your project? Technology changes on a dime and you need to make sure the firm you hire has demonstrable experience in implementing the software you just purchased. Also, does the prospective consultant claim to be an expert but have a two-page laundry list of systems they work with? Sounds like a jack-of-all-trades, not an expert. Make sure they are subject matter experts in the legal and professional services industries. A good way to determine this is to have the prospective IT firm clearly outline its method and identify the milestones it works towards.

2.

How will the firm involve your stakeholders and at what stages?

If you get a blank stare when you ask this question, the meeting is over. Professional IT consultants understand that every company is different and has different requirements. Before the box is open, they should be working with you to understand your current systems and processes and making suggestions on how to fill the gaps. Stakeholder involvement should continue throughout the solution design phase, validation, and deployment, all the way to postproduction support. A formal project plan, which includes identifying critical milestones and timelines, should be created for your approval. As each milestone is reached, there should be clear validation from stakeholders.

3.

What level of communication can we expect?

IT consultants need to understand the whole picture and how their project fits into the day-to-day running of your business. You likely have a tight deadline and quick email and call turnaround times will help you meet it, and slow turnaround times for emails and calls can push you past. You'll also want to know how the firm will be keeping you up-to-date on their progress, issues and potential glitches. Will you have regular update meetings or a quick email every few weeks? You also need to be specific about what your expectations are. Every year, OLAP Vision is called in to work on a project that has gone off the rails, assessing the issue and getting it back on track as quickly as possible. This is referred to as "rescue work," and in almost every case, both lack of communication and lack of subject matter expertise are the culprits.

4.

What type of training can you expect?

Your system may be state-of-the-art, but if no one is using it, you've wasted time and money. Early adoption is key, which is why you want your prospective IT consultants to outline the training they provide. Is it in person, by means of webinar, or both? How much time will they dedicate to training before they start charging additional fees? Lastly, will the training be before the deployment stage or after? Having you and your staff trained before the program is deployed may identify potential gaps and allow for further configuration. The better the training, the more self-sufficient your team can become, ultimately saving time and money.

5.

Can past customers provide references?

Each question above, while important, can be answered with exaggeration and hyperbole. Talking to a past customer provides that vital third-party accreditation. If possible, ask the reference provided the same questions as above, and if everything matches, congratulations, you've hired a great IT consultant firm and can look forward to a very successful project!


OLAP Vision

OLAP Vision is your budgeting and financial reporting experts. Our team members were the original developers of the Elite Clarity solution and we wrote the book on implementation best practices and upgrade methodologies. We specialize solely on Clarity for Enterprise and 3E clients and have managed over 150 Elite Clarity implementations. OLAP Vision has an unparalleled level of customer satisfaction, in part because of our commitment to get it right the first time—on time and on budget. We believe that your success is our success and rely on 90% customer referrals for our business. Click here to learn more.

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