Always start with plan. Your consultant should begin by interrogating you and taking the time to extract your business strategy. As a client, your job is to articulate your business case as clearly as you can. Their job is to listen, offer advice and insights, and then translate that information into solutions that match your objectives. The problem is that if you fail to address those gaps early on, your project may fail too. Seek out consultants who have strengths as business analysts as well as IT technical consultants.
IT consulting firms in Virginia will be more interested in using innovation to get to a pragmatic solution that works than giving you what you think you want. In your initial conversations about strategy you should be gaining valuable advice and guidance – not just a sales pitch.
Evaluating a firm’s technical skill set starts with understanding their specific areas of expertise and their past experience as managers and developers. Beyond this, dig deeper by asking them questions that reveal more about their approach and their motivation.
Getting at the business strategy at the start of a project sets up the design/discovery phase for greater success. You should always have technical people in the room while you’re hashing out that strategy so they know how to map out the high level solutions you can all agree on. The design/discovery phase also should include project managers who are building out realistic timelines and milestones for development.
Your proposal should have detailed estimates, line by line, and a min-max range on your project’s tasks and milestones. It may be an estimate, but the more detail you have the better. A clear understanding at the outset goes a long way to keeping the lines of communication open between you throughout a project headed by IT consulting firms in Virginia.
If your consultant is following an agile development philosophy, they will consider you as part of their team. This may mean that you have access to their project management software and can see where things stand at any given moment down to the line item. This kind of transparency may seem like overkill to clients who don’t think they need that level of detail, but it is an important internal discipline for any technology firm. Clients should feel confident that their consultant isn’t hiding anything and that their questions and clarifications are welcome. There are always unknowns and change orders when building a project, and having a constant back and forth among the team keeps everyone in the loop.
Even during your initial conversations, a consulting firm should be able to articulate very clearly what their internal process will be for communicating with you throughout your project. This includes what to expect in terms of reviews and approvals, as well as what happens when change orders, hours over budget, and bugs occur.