Alignment in the World of IT Consultants

Alignment in the World of IT Consultants

Posted by Dan Zubrzycki  |  07, Nov, 2011


One word matters when looking for an IT consultant:  Alignment.  As a recruiter, you’ll have a list of certain criteria.  Of course you already know this, however we often forget that there is a certain level of criteria presented from the Consultant or Contractor as well.  Like any phenominal relationship, the union of a Consultant or Contractor with the recruitor goes beyond the needs of one party or the other and into the realm of alignment.  Let’s take a minute to analyze the factors which both parties bring to the table.


View each of these sections with an eye towards primacy.  Which takes precedence over the other?  You may have to settle for a higher cost to ensure a quicker deadline or less smaller contract for better technology. 


Deadlines can really play a strong hand the in variability of a contractor or consultant.  If a project absolutely needs to be done in a short amount of time, you’ve already changed your pool of recruits to those who accept high-stress projects.  A lax deadline can push some contractors away as well, those who don’t want to be tied to an individual project for too long.  Determine the fixedness of your deadline as well as it’s proximity.  Consultants and contractors will up the cost on pressure situations.


Speaking of cost, how thick is your wallet?  Consultants nor contractors are something to skimp on, however, even a start up company might require an outside opinion their network can’t provide.  Finding a consultant or contractor for the right price may make or break a project’s effectiveness.  Spend too much?  Might as well have brought on someone for the long term.  Spend too little?  You may find yourself with a project that lacks the sheen and gloss it deserves.   Many, if not all, of your considerations will be weighed against this variable.  Cost tends to be the subject that changes when other traits are increased or decreased.


Where do you want this consultant or contractor to fall in the dynamic of your workspace?  Consultants often work best when elevated from the mentalities of the company – a fresh view point, untouched by the current thinking in the work space.  Contractors may wish the same level of seperation or they may want to – or be required to – become a part of a team.  Teams can be all consultants or contractors or mixed in with your steady employees.


What tools must the consultant or contractor have available to them from the start?  What tools are you willing to provide?  Furthermore, what kind of interfaces will they be expected to engage?  A consultant familiar with similar tech will hit the ground running rather than having to figure out the terrain.


Generally speaking, the more experienced the consultant, the more desirable.  However, younger, upstart consultants can sometimes show great drive and ambition – at much more appealing rates.  Weigh your need for tried and true against your need to save money.  Of course, always check references across the board – young and old.  If a new consultant is vieing for your position as his first gig, ask for outside-the-box references.  If an older consultant is applying, check their most recent ones with greater weight than the older ones.


What is the size of the project?  Is your project a detail oriented one or is it focused on the grand scale?  Are you making a radical shift or a slight directional change?  Are you willing to scale down your expectations of the project to fit the budget?  Might you need to bring in a team?  Consultant and contractor agencies are widely available but perhaps not always as personal as you’d like.


Contractors and consultants have chosen a particular lifestyle for a reason.  Sure, there’s often more money in it than what their previous position was, but you can be assured they enjoy the additional freedom more than the additional money.  Certain contractors, especially established ones, will have ideals for the length of their contracts.


They often have an eye on their resume, hoping that each and every position will land them another, better job.  If they’re work is good, keep an eye out for references to give them.  More importantly, remember to review their resume closely.  If attention to resume construction and networking skills are quite apparent from the start, you’ll probably have yourself a solid hire.


How does your company’s style and the consultant’s individual work-style mesh?  It’s a nightmare to bring in a consultant who is old-school and strict into a young and energetic office.  At the same time, a lax attitude from an overly excited young attitude can misfire entirely with a more rigid workspace.  Be honest with yourself, what does your office dynamic look like?

Balancing these aspects of consultant or contractor hiring will ensure that you bring in an individual of merit and skill.  Everyone will be happier with the result when all aspects of the contractor’s work and attitude mesh with the expectations and attitudes of the recruiter.



8 thoughts on “Alignment in the World of IT Consultants

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