If you are an IT consultant or consider becoming one, we would rather you knew how to cope with top IT consultant’s challenges. The IT industry has been growing rapidly in the recent decades. Therefore, there is a need for qualified specialists in order to help clients choose and integrate information technology systems into their businesses. Here is where the IT consultants come to aid.
IT Consultants: Responsibilities & Duties
Frankly speaking, IT consultants have a number of duties. Let’s go through the most typical ones:
- fully understand client’s needs and wishes in terms of services and results;
- provide an advice on using the right software system to achieve the targeted goals;
- support new technology implementation, providing training to staff in order to maximize the results;
- assist with technical issues;
- analyze the data and suggest improvements;
- produce regular customer support documentation.
If you need to take a step back from day-to-day operations and plot out the long-term direction of your user experience strategy, consultants can give you a perspective you can’t get on your own. Jesse James Garrett
Additionally, they should possess the following qualities: be customer-oriented, have problem-solving and good communication skills, ability to multi-task and troubleshoot hardware, software and network problems.
How to Cope with 5 Top IT Consultant’s Challenges?
No wonder every job has its pros and cons. Before considering top challenges which IT consultants face, let’s take a look into a short video in order to know what is the joy of being an IT consultant:
The thing is to be more satisfied than frustrated with your job. Click To Tweet Otherwise, you risk becoming a hostage of your own profession. So, let us consider IT consultant’s challenges that tend to be encountered on a daily basis.
1. Stay up to date & Continuing education
There are no limits for perfection. There is always room for improvement. Nevertheless, the majority of people don’t believe it to be one of the most substantial IT consultant’s challenges. It concerns any job, especially those that require technical expertise. IT consultants like anybody else should get this into their ears since their competitiveness directly depends on it. As soon as they realize that results won’t make them wait. Does it mean to cram things and torture yourself with reading long boring passages? No. Of course not. The point is to be hungry for knowledge and experience.
If you feel like you lack some knowledge, keep your ears always open, be curious about the latest changes in software and hardware. Don’t be reluctant to communicate with your counterparts and share knowledge. Here are several sites which IT consultants might find quite useful: Computerworld, Computer Weekly, Business Today, etc.
2. Demanding travelling
Among other IT consultant’s challenges demanding travelling is the most problematic. For the majority of IT consultants travelling has become an integral part of their job. These can be short and long-term trips within a country or abroad. They are already used to living out of a suitcase. It poses a big problem, as it takes a lot of time and is exhausting. The term “road warrior” describes IT consultants’ job in the best way possible. Click To Tweet
Have you ever seen the film “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” with Mel Gibson in a lead role? Forget it, the meaning of the phrase has nothing to do with the movie but for the origin, since it began to be frequently used immediately after the movie’s release. In business travel, the road warrior is a person who spends much of his time on the road, driving between meetings or presentations. As a result, IT consultants may encounter a language barrier. It is a rare case because English is considered to be the global language, but things happen. Occasionally even people who know English well are difficult to understand because of their accent or manner of speaking. For sure, those who have ever experienced such situation will see the point here. So, what can be done about that? We live in the digital age. New gadgets may give you a helping hand. Trying out modern travel applications is now an option. While planning your trip, refer to Kayak. In order to orient yourself in the new town/city, use Google maps. Moreover, install some cloud conferencing and team collaboration tools such as iMeet or Skype and Slack (fee-paying) or Bitrix24 as a free alternative just to be always available.
3. Marketing challenge
When speaking about other IT consultant’s challenges, marketing issue is the most serious. In fact, this problem is twofold. It refers to both B2B marketing and content development.
No doubt, if you are a seasoned IT consultant, it is obligatory to know the basics of B2B marketing. You should assist clients in reaching their goals and provide them with the best roadmap of how to implement all those intended targets. While customers choose products taking into account not only the price, popularity and status but also the profit potential, IT consultants are to know how to make reasonable forecasts and measure the success of the project. Indeed, it presents a huge problem if IT consultants appear to be baffled while hearing such simple questions from customers as: How will you bring us targeted traffic? How much time is needed to boost our sales? Could you explain this applying statistics? We would never wish you to experience such a situation.
Here is the prompt for the solution. As an IT consultant, you should be an expert in strategic marketing. This means to be able to identify customer’s needs, suggest a strategic plan in order to improve company’s competitiveness and increase profit. Keep in mind that tactical marketing is a part of marketing specialists’ business since it concerns the very process of how to implement all the targeted goals. Don’t procrastinate and use as many tools as possible to make your roadmap and forecasts more appealing and catchy. First of all, make use of free document creation software such as Google apps, Google Docs, Google Sheets and Google Slides. They are user-friendly and reliable. The main advantage is that you can create and edit files online and cooperate with others in real time. Moreover, a software like Microsoft Visio may be useful as well. It is a diagramming and vector graphics application which helps you design mindmaps and provide statistics to the customer. One more great tool is Bizagi Modeler which can create efficient flowcharts, models and generate IT documentation. All files can be further exported to Word, PDF, Visio, Web or SharePoint for sharing and discussion.
Building a personal brand
As stated by consulting firm McKinsey, a brand is “a promise made and kept in the marketplace.” It represents who you are and how your clients and colleagues perceive you. When it comes to content development and promoting yourself as an IT consultant, there may also appear some IT consultant’s challenges. In order to “sell” yourself, you need to create compelling content that would attract new customers as well as retain existing ones.
Engagement is mindshare. If the customer is not engaging with your product, the churn rate will eventually go up. Shira Abel
Here goes the question: how to engage customers? Try to build trust and influence. Don’t just say you’re an expert, prove that you are. Having a powerful personal brand will facilitate the task. Start by creating a name for yourself, using online and offline strategies. Whether you love or loathe the process of content development, you are to do it through various forms: social networking, daily blog posts, e-Books, infographics, webinars or podcasts. Strange though it may sound, for beginners it is even allowed to spam, troll others online and follow thousands of people when you are just followed by ten. Everyone has started from scratch. Do you still remember those times? To make your life easier, try out such powerful content management tools as WordPress or Blogger. The former is one of the most popular free tools among advanced users, while the later is rather limited in terms of templates, options but is more secure and attractive for the novice users. Read more about the difference between them.
4. Time and Project Management
Another issue that IT consultants should handle is managing their time and projects. The major question here that stands out is how to cope with all of the responsibilities and still be productive. Suppose you are engaged in several projects, you need to provide regular customer support documentation to the clients and you are pressed for time because the deadlines are approaching. How do you automate this time-consuming process of document creation? The solution is to try some document creation software. In this case, StepShot may come in handy as a great step-by-step documentation tool in creating technical documentation, IT instructions, user support manuals, runbooks and reference guides. Furthermore, IT consultants usually face some organizational obstacles in their work. To be more productive and manage time more efficiently, we suggest using some powerful project management tools such as Jira, Trello, Basecamp, etc. Trello is a free web-based project management application, mostly designed for small businesses in order to help people manage their workflow, organizing the projects into boards. Jira, on the other hand, provides not only project management functions but also bug and issue tracking. It is a commercial product, developed by Atlassian.
5. Difficult client vs. Ideal client
Indeed, difficult customers are part of business because it is not you who chooses the client, it is vice versa. Perhaps from personal experience you know that clients can be annoying, tiresome, exacting, arrogant and even stingy, don’t you? They invest money into consulting services and have rights to demand results and progress. Sometimes their demands may be unreasonable. However, customers are usually angry and dissatisfied, because IT consultants fail to inform them sufficiently or live up to their expectations. In both cases anyway communication solves everything, because soft skills matter a lot in the modern world. The best way out is to turn a “difficult” client into “ideal” one. As simple as it sounds, try to at least give it a shot. In a nutshell, give your client enough attention and prove that you are an expert in the field by documenting everything and providing customer support documentation. Such routine tasks may get on your nerves, especially when every minute counts. Time is money, right?
In order to help yourself in writing technical documentation, use document creation software such as StepShot, Docusnap, IT Glue, etc. Moreover, to handle tricky clients IT consultants should be very patient and even know some psychological hacks how to manage such customers. One more hint: don’t be afraid to be persistent. If you are pretty sure in your decision, stand up for your ideas. However, once you make mistake, be ready to admit it. In this manner, the customer will see that you do care.
Have you noticed the logic behind the story? All these IT consultant’s challenges are interconnected. Start with building powerful brand and customers will flow; as a result, there will be the need for numerous business trips and effective tools for time and project management. But all this means nothing if you stop educating yourself.
In summary, being an IT consultant is a physically and mentally demanding job. Using the right tools may help to overcome all of the above mentioned IT consultant’s challenges and avoid a job burnout which many consultants, indeed, suffer from.