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Technology Consultant Duties and Responsibilities
The specific responsibilities of a technology consultant can vary from client to client, but most share several essential duties:
Assess IT Needs and Requirements One of the foremost duties of a technology consultant is assessing each client's IT needs based on a variety of factors. This can include assessing both internal needs to support employee activities, as well as client-facing IT elements. In this aspect of the role, the technology consultant gathers extensive data related to network usage, client service metrics, and server load and determines the organization's data management and security needs, as well as desired outcomes and potential scalability.
Examine IT Capabilities In addition to gathering needs and business requirements, technology consultants also analyze their client's current IT capabilities. This can involve highly technical assessments of server capabilities, security methods and technologies, and personnel training and expertise. Technology consultants examine these elements of an organization's IT infrastructure both independently and in tandem to fully understand their client's IT operations.
Identify Potential IT Issues While examining each client's current IT structure and capabilities, technology consultants also identify potential flaws or issues within the IT system. While this primarily involves examining technologies and systems for security flaws, potential sources of failure, and vulnerabilities, it can also include examining organization-wide policies for data management and determining whether the client's training materials adequately address potential IT security flaws.
Provide Technology Advice and Guidance Technology consultants work closely with chief technology officers (CTOs) and chief information officers (CIOs) to provide recommendations and guidance on IT technologies, services, and systems. This guidance can range from improving IT policies through training to implementing entirely new systems and servers to address the organization's current and future IT needs. For growing companies, technology consultants may focus their efforts on scalability.
Integrate New Technology and Solutions Frequently, technology consultants also work directly with IT departments to integrate new solutions and technologies. They may work with IT departments and database professionals on server migrations, for example, ensuring that the transition does not cause excessive downtime throughout the organization. Additionally, the technology consultant may conduct organization-wide training on new systems and practices.
Improve Process Efficiency Finally, technology consultants identify and utilize methods to improve current processes and uses of technology to better align them with business goals. After examining the client's current capabilities and requirements, the technology consultant may determine that new technologies are unnecessary and that improved utilization of existing systems makes more sense financially for the client. The technology consultant then leads in training personnel on more efficient and effective methodologies.
Technology Consultant Skills and QualificationsTechnology consultants advise businesses on information technology to support business goals and profitability. Most technology consultants have at least a bachelor's degree and the following skills:
- Analytical skills - technology consultants analyze an organization's current technologies and needs to make recommendations and provide guidance, so they should have strong assessment and analysis skills
- Business strategy - to successfully guide IT decision-making, technology analysts also need a strong sense of business strategy and a high level of familiarity with their client's goals and objectives
- Market expertise - technology consultants should also understand their clients' industries and be able to identify ways that technology can impact market share and create a competitive edge
- Problem-solving skills - technology consultants should be exceptional problem-solvers, able to assess a client's current shortfalls and devise creative and technical solutions to address these issues
- Team coordination - in this role, technology consultants work closely with CIOs, CTOs, and IT departments to implement new technologies, so effective team collaboration is vital
- Communication skills - technology consultants should also be strong written and verbal communicators, since they interact with personnel throughout their clients' organizations and frequently work with technology vendors
Technology Consultant Education and TrainingGenerally, technology consultants have at least a bachelor's degree in a related field such as information technology or computer science. Many also have advanced degrees in technology or business-related fields. Additionally, most technology consultants have practical, hands-on experience with information technology as system administrators or architects, IT managers, or executives. While there are few opportunities for on-the-job training in this role, technology consultants do need to constantly stay on top of technological developments and emerging industry-specific trends to provide sound and timely guidance.
Technology Consultant Salary and OutlookWhile the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) does not provide specific salary or employment outlook data for technology consultants, its data on computer systems analysts may provide a helpful starting point because of the overlapping duties of these roles. As of May 2017, computer systems analysts earned a median annual salary of $88,270. The lowest-paid workers in this role earned less than $53,750 per year, while the highest-paid ten percent earned more than $139,850. It is also worth noting that many technology consultants work on a freelance or contract basis, which can result in wide variance in salaries. The BLS expects computer systems analyst employment to grow at an average pace of nine percent between 2016 and 2026.
We searched the web and found several resources to read and connect with if you're considering a career as a technology consultant:
Professional & Technical Consultants Association (PATCA) - the PATCA is a professional organization for technology consultants, providing networking events and professional development resources.
How to Start and Run an IT Consultancy Business: Become a Consultant, IT Entrepreneur or Start an Information Technology Consulting Firm by Srikanth Merianda - read this book to learn how to begin working as a technology consultant and gain new clients. "A Day in the Life of a Technology Consultant" - in this interview, technology consultant Paul Day explains his role and responsibilities, along with the challenges that technology consultants need to manage.
The Nomadic Developer: Surviving and Thriving in the World of Technology Consulting by Aaron Erickson - this book explores technology consulting, with a particular focus on transitioning from a development to consulting role.
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