Hiring a computer consultant can be a challenging and sometimes frustrating experience that can have a critical impact on your business. 20 years of being a computer consultant, as well as hiring them, has taught me many lessons and thankfully exposed some “secrets” to finding a good one. Here’s a simple set of non-technical questions that anyone can use to help select a computer consultant that meets your needs.
WARNING: These questions might scare off some consultants. There is a reason for each of them. Some are subtle, some are direct. Print one of these for each consultant you interview and use them to assess your choices. We left room for notes with each question, as well as what we think you should be looking for in the answers you receive.
Q: How is your company different from all the other tech consultants who call me? Workplace relations commission
What you’re looking for: What the consultant thinks is important about tech consultants. How the consultant speaks of his/her peers, as that may reflect how they will speak of you.
Q: What’s your business background? Ever owned a business other than a consulting firm?
What you’re looking for: What the consultant thinks is important about business. Have they ever had to make payroll and hassle with business tax paperwork while trying to turn a profit and supervise employees and market their business? Do they understand what you face as a “real business owner” every day?
Q: What’s the goal of getting my company as a client?
What you’re looking for: The consultant’s vision of your business and their role in it. Are they there to fix a problem and leave (which is OK if that’s what you want), or do they have something else in mind? The quality of their answer depends on what your needs are.
Q: Have you ever worked in my industry/line of work?
What you’re looking for: What the consultant’s industry background is and what it can offer your business.
Q: Can you train my people to use *some software package*?
What you’re looking for: Does the consultant want to spend time with your staff? Do they feel comfortable doing training? It’s OK if they aren’t, regardless of the answer, you need to know.