It can be difficult to determine when it's the right time to engage technology consultants, whether it's for a mission-critical implementation/upgrade or as augmentation to internal IT professional staff to complete key tasks and issue remediation. Other reasons include: • Technology that the business depends on to function is in dire need of upgrading. • The business may be in the position of requiring new technology to meet business goals. • The business may be in need of assistance to help repair broken processes or to reconcile a project that has gone off of the rails in scope or cost. Whatever reasons may lead you to consider bringing in a consultant, it is important to address the engagement with both the consultants and internal IT professionals in a manner that is most time and cost-effective. Many concerns are inherently associated with the introduction of consulting, and if those concerns are not properly considered and managed, they can derail even the most critical and carefully considered engagement. Concerns Let's begin by reviewing some of the key concerns that a business may face when considering consulting engagements: • Admitting that in-house capabilities may be currently insufficient for a variety of reasons • Acknowledgement that attentiveness to business needs may have been neglected • Admission that costs were not appropriately budgeted for or the scope of a project was not properly managed • Perception that management has lost faith in the capabilities of internal staff Reality Now, let's discuss the reality of the situation: • Internal staff would not routinely be expected to have the level of experience in major system implementations and upgrades that a specialist consultant would have • Insufficient training of staff is an all-too common problem • New technology or new requirements for technology that are unfamiliar, and leveraging an experienced consultant who has been there before is prudent and reasonable • Consulting engagements often are paid for from alternative budget categories, or have been budgeted in their own right. A Different way to think about it Here's a different way to mentally approach consulting engagements… From an IT professional perspective: • Commit to participating fully in the consulting process and learning not only what skills gaps may exist but also what strengths may be attained during knowledge transfer • Realize that the consultant's success is your success – and that their failure is yours, too! Be prepared to do what it takes to make it successful. From a management perspective: • Use the engagement as a learning opportunity - make professionals on the project team better at what they do and therefore more valuable to the organization • Coach staff to participate fully, engaging consultants to elicit knowledge transfer with the intent of attaining the capabilities that were found to be insufficient • Control demagoguery which is a primary reason that many engagements are derailed • Commit to a training plan for affected IT professionals based on the results of the engagement Choose the Right consulting • Make sure that personalities mesh reasonably well • Make sure that knowledge transfer is absolutely part of the deal • Require documentation for results and require detailed processes and procedures to effectively manage and maintain systems as well as workflow associated with the technology that is considered and/or implemented • Make sure to hire consultants that are experts and give weighted consideration to recommendations made therein. That's why they were hired in the first place! Consider consulting engagements to be a win-win for the organization. You get the best minds possible focused on your business needs, which alone will greatly increase your chances of success. Not only will the business be better positioned to forge ahead in its endeavors, the IT organization will be flush with new knowledge and armed with processes and procedures that will give IT professionals the best chance to succeed and grow in their careers.