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Goals & Rates for IT Consulting for Small Business and Enterprises

Business owners are usually the people who know their business from the inside out with all its quirks and peculiarities. They know their products and services, their target audience and they know how the processes are set up, especially in smaller businesses when there are fewer departments and people involved. However, chances are that you might face the situation, where you need advice on how to proceed in a more efficient way or how to make your business processes more cost-effective, especially when it comes to IT.

“So this person just comes and starts telling me how to do my business better?” you might ask incredulously.

Yes… and no. No one knows your business better than you. However, there are times when a look from the outside is necessary to identify things that can get your business working even better and your insights are invaluable in this process. So, how does IT consulting work and why is it not just a fad?

In our article, we’ll talk about how to identify cases when you need IT consulting, how does IT consulting differs for small businesses and enterprises, and how much does it cost to hire an IT consultant (or a firm) throughout the world.

What is IT consulting and what is the role of an IT consultant?

IT consulting is a service that focuses on advising companies on how to utilize modern-day information technologies to reach business goals. 

Who can do it? There are companies whose primary service is consulting. Their employees are skilled business analysts, whose main job is to audit and analyze your business and come up with ideas on how to improve the processes or how to create a software solution that would help with that.

There are also various IT companies (like HUSPI) that offer IT consulting services, but the main idea is that we don’t simply tell you what should be done, but we also actually offer ways to do it with the help of our developers and quality assurance engineers.

Finally, you can hire an in-house IT consultant if you have an IT department within your company. 

What’s included in IT consulting services? 

Whether you are at the startup stage of your business or you’ve been on the market for years, the reason to get IT consulting services is either: 

  • To increase your profits
  • To minimize your expenses

We do realize those two goals usually go hand in hand, but the primary purpose would be one of them. For example, if you would like to increase the effectiveness of your plant by streamlining the software processes to make your machinery work better, this will lead to increasing your profits (while your costs won’t go down.) IT consulting also helps to save time in the long run because you’ll have less headache in managing the business.

What services are included in IT consulting? 

  1. Discussion of requirements and expectations. You don’t have to give away any trade secrets but to come up with an efficient solution, your IT consultant.
  2. Audit of any existing software infrastructure and business processes (if there is any).
  3. Road map creation for further actions as well as the assignment of key people and teams responsible for various stages and departments. 
  4. Implementation of the changes that were proposed, discussed, and approved. This can include both process changes as well as software creation or integration.
  5. The consulting company can also offer change management monitoring. 

Can the work of an IT consultant be done by someone within the organization? The answer to this question is tricky. 

  • The business owner/founder/CEO has a global overview of the processes as well as the factors that affect various aspects of it. However, few business owners or CEOs have the necessary time to dedicate to the consulting process. Also, they sometimes tend to be protective of the “this is how we always have done it” type of comfort zone and therefore won’t want to introduce dramatic changes. If the business is large, then the CEO also doesn’t know (or might ignore) the minute details of some “less important” processes. It’s not his/her fault, it’s the professional habit to look at the big picture.
  • Department managers are on the other side of the medal. They usually know the details, but they might not be aware of the overall big picture or the external factors that might be affecting the revenue or the way things are done. Again, this isn’t their fault, but it’s how it usually is. 

Therefore, it is usually much easier and effective to have someone come from the outside to look at the business - both as a big picture as well as in detail - to identify things that can be changed to optimize the business. This way, the person from the outside can see innovative ways of doing things that you simply have grown accustomed to doing in a certain, but not the most efficient way.

What are some examples of successful IT consulting?

HUSPI began as an IT consulting company and we grew organically by seeing the needs our customers have and responding to them. Now we are mostly focused on software development, but such services as technical and process audit and business analysis are always at the forefront of all our actions. 

Several years ago, an enterprise retail organization approached us because they were looking for IT consultants.

Given: 

  • A retail + distribution business with large potential
  • A website for each of the brands represented + one main company website
  • A chain of offline stores
  • ERP, CRM, and other software solutions

Required: 

  • A comprehensive solution to all of this, which can streamline business management, automation, and monitoring

One of the things we have said from the very start: “There’s no way to automate chaos. You do it, and you only get more chaos.” So we began with auditing the tools that were being used as well as the processes’ architecture to understand the situation. For instruments to bring good results after their implementation, you need to digitize and optimize the processes as well as minimize operational risks.   

After the initial audit, we have identified and divided the potential risks and tasks into two categories: 

  1. Things that can be implemented fast and the results are felt and seen quickly as well. By fast, we mean tasks that can be done within 2 months or so and the results can be felt. For example, we have analyzed the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) within the company that was active and detected those that didn’t perform well. We also have analyzed information security and implemented certain practices that protected the company’s data.
  2. Things that are more global but take more time to implement. The results can also be seen and they are important, but due to the time they require, they aren’t as immediate. This included creating the process interaction map, which helped to visualize online sales processes as well as offline sales optimized with regards to the online ones, accounting dashboard, and communication between the processes’ data exchange.

One of the critical issues in terms of IT consulting, in general, is taking care of the risks: 

  • Operational (optimizing the activities of the employees)
  • Informational (data loss prevention, password and user management, etc.)
  • Physical (CCTV, fire safety, access to the servers)

HUSPI team role transformed from simple IT consultants to product owners because we have audited and managed the new features’ development, introduced code review, and oversaw new designs for the websites (created by the client’s in-house team). We also supervised the omnichannel sales (CRM for online & offline stores’ orders.)

With these tasks described, we developed a plan and specified the responsibilities of those who are involved. We also made sure each department had a team of those, who are responsible for the changes’ implementation, for example: 

  • Sales optimization team
  • Contracts optimization team
  • Accounting optimization team
  • Additionally, coordination, supervising, and communication from our side of consultants

The entire process took us 2 years. It might seem too short, it might seem too long. The duration of the consulting will be different for each business because there are different requirements and given initial data.

What were some of the challenges along the way? Well, one of the most common ones in consulting, in general, is that the team might not be open to any kind of changes (especially if the business has been on the market for a long time). “We have always done it this way, why should we change right now?” Some of the fears of the team are understandable: they fear that they might lose their jobs (in case, for example, their tasks can be automated), they fear that some of the things that were done in not-such-a-good-way will surface, etc. As a result, some employees might hide the facts from the IT consultants or not tell the entire story, hoping things will calm down.

How to deal with this? In our case, the business owner was interested in making his business more efficient no matter what it took and he also appointed a specific trustworthy person to be in charge of the changes and cooperation with our company.

Why does your business need IT consulting services?

So now that you know what IT consulting is all about, the question remains: how can IT consulting help your business?

To answer this question, we’ll divide the answer into several parts since the purposes and reasons for small and medium businesses and enterprises usually differ. Also, IT consulting for new businesses is different from IT consulting for businesses that existed for some time. 

Why business needs IT consulting?

As you can see, consulting is a good investment in your business in the short as well as long run. Its main goal is to audit needs, wants, requirements, and whatever exists at the current moment to create a plan for necessary changes in IT structure or develop the architecture from scratch that would be able to support your planned business activities (and have the ability to scale when your business will grow.) Also, besides just pointing out “This should be changed,” IT consultants offer practical solutions to reaching the metrics. 

In another case, we have been invited to be IT consultants for a plant to identify ways to increase productivity and digitize more of the production activities. We have analyzed the current situation - including the way the machinery worked as well as software supporting the entire operation. Once we have detected the issues that needed to be addressed, we created a Technical Task (how to mitigate those issues) and implemented the changes.

“You can’t begin a software development or digitization process without a goal and a plan how to reach that goal,” says Olga Provotar, Co-Founder of HUSPI.

How much does it cost to hire an IT consultant?

Now the main question remains: how much does it cost? 

According to the research conducted by the Consulting Success company in 2019, the majority of consultants in general (31.37%) use project-based rates to price their projects. 23.38% use billing per hour, 17.3% - value-based fees, 15.4% use monthly retainers, and 12.55% use a daily rate. 

IT Consultants Rates according to Consulting Success

At HUSPI, we usually use hourly rates for IT consulting, just like for all the other services. Compared to other parts of the world, here is a comparative list (taken average prices for IT consultants on UpWork):

IT consulting rates ranges around the world

  Lower End Higher End

Philippines

$5 / hour

$15 / hour

Eastern Europe

$10 / hour

$40 / hour

India

$15 / hour

$25 / hour

HUSPI

$35 / hour

$45 / hour

Middle East

$75 / hour

$150 / hour

Egypt

$75 / hour

$125 / hour

Australia

$80 / hour

$150 / hour

Western Europe

$100 / hour

$175 / hour

Canada

$100 / hour

$150 / hour

United States

$150 / hour

$250 / hour

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