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Many mid-sized businesses don’t have access to strategic IT expertise. Consulting on IT services can help to bridge that gap.

Here’s what IT consulting entails, how it tends to be delivered, and how your business can access it.

What is the difference between IT services and IT consulting?

To lay the foundation for our discussion, let’s review the distinction between IT services and IT consulting.

IT services include hands-on assistance – from on-site hardware repair to network deployment to business continuity setup. The key is that these services enact tactics toward an outcome. IT consulting, on the other hand, is strategic guidance. This is critical to successful outcomes, but may not be as visible as execution.

It helps to clarify with an example. You might receive IT consulting to help you plan for the deployment of remote work infrastructure. That could involve collaborative meetings, research, and the presentation of a roadmap by the IT consultant. However, consulting would not involve the implementation of the roadmap – that would be the realm of IT services.

This might seem straightforward, but the difference can become gray quickly when the company that’s consulting is also the company delivering the services. For instance, after a solution is deployed, is the review and optimization period consulting ­– or is it service?

Again, the difference ultimately boils down to the line between strategy (consulting) and execution (service).

How does IT consulting work?

With that distinction made, let’s drill down a bit into the process by which IT consulting is typically delivered.

Most often, IT consulting happens over four phases:

Assessment

The assessment phase involves a detailed review of the current situation. For instance, you might work with an IT services consultant to review your business’s cybersecurity stance. The assessment might reveal that users are well-trained to avoid phishing scams, but that your network has several critical vulnerabilities.

The result of consulting during the assessment phase should be a clear understanding of where you’re at. In principle, this doesn’t involve solution proposition – it’s separate from the planning phase. In practice, though, assessment can sometimes get combined with planning, and deliverables might include both an assessment of the current situation and the consultant’s proposed next steps.

Planning

Consulting during IT planning involves the creation of a strategic roadmap toward a better outcome. In the example given above (where a cybersecurity assessment revealed critical network vulnerabilities), the planning stage might involve the creation of a strategy for network hardening.

Delivery

Here’s where the lines between consulting and service get blurry. Many people’s view of consulting is confined to the first two stages – but IT consultants can also provide value during the delivery of IT services. As a plan is enacted, technicians delivering services may still benefit from strategic guidance.

Feedback during this time can be the difference between a solution that’s properly implemented and a solution that fails.

Review

Finally, IT consulting can involve the review of a solution that’s been delivered. Performance can be evaluated, and there may be areas where things can be further optimized. Any places where the solution falls short would be noted and queued up to be fixed.

How can I access IT services consulting?

If you’re looking for IT services consulting, you’re probably in need of one of these two applications:

Consulting for a specific need.

Some consulting engagements are refined to a specific situation. You might need consulting for a software rollout, or for network hardening, or for the opening of a new office. There’s a beginning and an end, and the success of the consulting engagement will be measured by the performance of the specific solution.

Generally, these IT service consulting engagements are delivered on a project-by-project basis.

General technology consulting.

However, many businesses also stand to benefit from general consulting – that is, technology consulting that is ongoing and allows for top-tier strategic guidance that’s not relegated to one specific project.

This type of consulting is often delivered via vCIO engagements, and success is measured by the performance of technology across the organization.

Looking to work with an IT services consultant?

At Complete Network, we provide our clients with access to high-level technology consulting through industry-leading vCIOs.

Our process involves ongoing movement through the phases described above. We begin with a discovery phase (assessment), where we document your business’s technology systems and gather all of the information that we need to make informed recommendations on the best solutions.

Then, we create a scorecard and a roadmap toward better outcomes (planning), prioritizing the most impactful steps first.

We stabilize your systems and provide ongoing support (delivery). And on an continual basis, our vCIOs check in to re-align strategy and ensure that systems are performing how they should be (review).

The outcome is that your IT systems work the way you need them to – and you always have access to strategic expertise you can trust.

Want to learn more about our IT consulting services for businesses in Albany, New York, Charlotte, North Carolina, and Bluffton, South Carolina? Get in touch with us today. Contact our friendly, knowledgeable team any time at 1.877.877.1840 or [email protected] and take the first step toward IT services consulting that will completely change your business.

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