Stretching Your IT Budget Through Consultants

I dont often write about business things on my site but I encountered a phenomenon a couple of weeks ago at our joint Microsoft/Oracle event. Several people asked me the same question, How do you guys make money on these events? There was no selling in the sessions?. Every time, I explain that it is not necessarily a direct one to one correlation. Rather, that we do these free community events in order to indirectly drive sales our way. We are essential selling our best asset, our people. Its not a hard fast formula but if you show that you are the best of the best then businesses take not of that. Who wants to hire the #2 or #3 company to do a mission critical project?

Invariably, the second question, well more of a statement than a question, But I dont see a CIOs, CFOs, or (Insert 3 letter abbreviation here). This is true. Technical events are more geared towards the non-management people. The people on the front lines whom actually have to write the code or configure the database. So why do we do it. Simply, it is because any good manager knows that part of managing groups is to not come up with all the ideas yourself. You need to take input from the teamlook at all the optionsand then take a course of action. What better sales force could I have then a group of 100 or more pumped up IT geeks whom see a need to have the latest and greatest technology but may feel gun-shy about implementing it.

More often than not, the third question is to challenge the consultant, Why would IT people have you come in to do something, when you would be looking to replace this would most likely be true if I were a part of a regular consulting firm. Most times these firms hire in people from job to job with no one really, meaning they are all 1099, on staff and people are by nature always looking to get an extension of their current contract. Its not that they are necessarily bad people, unless you count the ones that say We do everything, and instead dont really do anything but wing it, theyre just trying to secure whatever particular lifestyle they have. Why IT people invite me in to help them with their projects is because I am a different type of consultant. There are many different consultants and consultant agencies like Porte Brown and the many others that can either be specialized or a general consultancy. Depending on what type of business you own, you’ll be wanting to find the most suitable consultant for the needs of your business, you might even need it infrastructure services for example.

When I left the government arena a couple years back, I made a decision to join Perpetual Technologies,Inc. (PTI) not because one of my friends, Chris Zeis, was one of the ownersbut because I was basically told that I would be able to build the Microsoft division of PTI. I had just spent several years in the university arena and the government arena and had soured at the uber political environment so I saw this as an opportunity to build something different. It would be typical for consultants to go out and try to say Hey, replace these guys with us and we will save you a bunch of money in the long run but it would be something more substantial if we were to instead look to augment an existing IT infrastructure. Imagine a consulting firm full of excellent grant bid writers that actually gave a damn not just about making themselves look good but also making the people that they work for look good.

So 3 years later this is where we standthe recession is going on but we are as busy as ever. Why? I chalk it up to the fact that we take the time and put in the effort to make our clients shine. It like a cycle. We make client X look good. Client X now is given a promotion to V.P. of something or another because he has shown that she or he can get the job done. Now who do you suppose Client X is going to go back to now that in their new found position of power they have found that they need to get several projects accomplished? Its not a hard principle to grasp, and we are definitely not using any kind of Jedi mind tricks on people. Its just the principle that if you treat people fairly and give them 110% then you will be rewarded in the end. Thats why I dont mind so much when people email me questions like AJ, I cant get this thing to work with Reporting Services. People are often surprised when I drop a piece of code in their lap and say Here take this will work for you with a few tweaks. Yeah, they may not have a budget for that project today.but if all you are looking at is the present then you are going to miss the long term picture.

So for those CIOs, CFOs, and CEOs that may be reading my blog, dont look at consultants merely as a way in which you can replace in house staff and be able to reduce long term costs. Instead, look at firms like mine as a way in which you can stretch your IT dollar in order to get that high stake, high technology projects you know your business needs while at the same time giving your people a valuable asset that they can leverage to give themselves a little breathing room.

Hopefully, this little blog has helped to dispel some of the myths that all consultants are alikewell, at least with my group of people. Hopefully, it will make more people attend our events in the future as they will lose the fear that it is some sneaky sales presentation and no real learning goes on. Hopefully, some aspiring CIO out there if you find themselves under the gun to implement some new technology or have a project that you know your current staff could use a hand on and will give me a call. So feel free the next time to give me a call or drop me an email and maybe I can show you how my teams services could make your next project shine.