Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Why Hire a Professional Contractor

By: David Schuchman
Princeton Technology Advisors, LLC
      Innovative Solutions for Your Growing Business

A consultant is a person that is a subject matter expert who is paid to perform a specific set of tasks over a set period of time for an agreed upon sum of money. In this case, I mean for you to consider when it is appropriate to hire an IT consulting professional for your next important project.
As you approach starting a new project, take stock in the skills, backgrounds and timely availability of the in-house resources already accessible to you. Then, determine the skills and availability that you need to complete your new project on schedule. If there are gaps between those two reviews, consider bringing in consulting professionals. It’s important that the assessment of the skills, backgrounds and availability are performed objectively. An over confident or over ambitious program manager may not see these clearly (or truthfully).

What a professional consultant brings to a project are:
  • Works with you, your team and/or your management on goals and deliverables.
  • Accountability for results, schedule and costs to complete key project tasks. These tasks and goals can be identified and added to the contract, which can translate into significant economies as compared to in-house efforts.
  • A proven methodology and skill set applied to the appropriate tasks.
  • Creativity drawn from a robust base of prior experiences.
  • No significant cost of training or “experimenting” on how to complete the assignment. The consultant will focus on achieving results. Training of in-house staff can be scheduled into the project both during execution or as the final tasks to perform.

Once you determine that you will hire a consultant, you have several options for finding the right resources:
  • If your project involves purchasing a product, consider the vendor. While this may appear to be a costly upfront option (e.g. highest hourly rate), the vendor will provide well-trained product resources that will effectively perform the needed tasks.
  • Large multi-disciplined contracting companies have a variety of technical resources and specialties within their in-house staff. Some specialize in a specific set of technologies. While that can provide good value to your organization, you need to be sure the companies you speak with actually have in-house staff proficient in skill sets that your project needs.
  • An independent general contractor is a consultant who will manage your project and has access to a wide variety of the specialty sub-contractors needed on your project. It is often the case that the general contractor can be more cost effective and flexible as compared to specialty contractors since the team assembled is not limited to in-house resources. In addition, an independent general contractor typically does not have the overhead of larger firms.

Hiring a consultant can be extremely advantageous by helping you plan, manage, and implement your key project goals. The apparent cost may actually be less than the real cost when you consider the benefits gained from hiring a professional consultant for your short-term needs.