Especially as the world becomes increasingly connected by the internet, many individuals who are successful in their careers have turned to consulting as a side hustle or a way to be profitable while making their own hours at work.
Particularly in the IT space, management consulting has become a popular career move for those with the technical chops to back up their advice. In this blog post, we’ll explore what IT management consulting is, who does it, and how you can get started in this field.
What is IT Management Consulting Anyway?
IT management consulting is the process of providing expert advice to businesses or organizations with regard to their Information Technology (IT) needs. IT Management Consultants are typically experienced IT professionals who have in-depth knowledge of a wide range of IT topics, including network infrastructure, software development, and information security. They use this knowledge to help their clients assess their current IT capabilities and identify areas where improvements can be made.
In many cases, IT Management Consultants are also responsible for designing and implementing new IT systems or for helping businesses migrate to new technologies. However, their role can also extend to providing advice on strategy, operations, and organizational change. As such, they play an important role in helping businesses keep up with the latest changes in the technology landscape.
Who Does IT Management Consulting?
Usually, people who get into IT management consulting have several years of experience working in the IT industry in various roles. This could be as a software developer, network engineer, system administrator, or information security specialist. However, it’s not always necessary to have worked in IT to become an IT Management Consultant.
In some cases, consultants come from other industries and use their transferable skills to help businesses with their IT needs. For example, someone with a background in project management may be well-suited to helping a business plan and implement a new software development project.
Similarly, someone with a background in sales or marketing may be able to help a business develop an effective go-to-market strategy for a new IT product. The key is to have the right mix of technical knowledge and soft skills that will allow you to effectively advise businesses on their IT needs.
How IT Management Consulting Works
The primary goal of IT management consulting is to help clients improve their overall performance by optimizing their use of technology. In order to do this, consultants first assess the client’s current IT infrastructure and operations.
They then develop a customized plan of action that takes into account the client’s specific goals and needs. Once the plan is in place, the consultant works with the client to implement it, monitor its progress, and make any necessary adjustments along the way.
By definition, IT management consulting is a highly collaborative process that requires close communication and coordination between the consultant and the client. When done correctly, it can yield tremendous benefits for both parties involved.
There are a few different things that an organization or individual may call on an IT Management Consultant for:
Example 1: Implementing a New Process
Let’s say you are the IT manager for a small business that is in the process of implementing a new CRM system. You’ve been with the company for a few years and have a good understanding of the business, but you’re not an expert in CRM systems.
You decide to hire an IT Management Consultant to help with the project. First, the consultant takes into account both your existing infrastructure and what will change based on the new system you’ve selected. Once the consultant has a detailed understanding of how your infrastructure will be impacted, they develop a customized plan for the CRM implementation.
They then work with you to ensure that the project is completed on time, within budget, and with minimal disruption to the business. In the end, the company has a successful CRM implementation thanks to the help of the IT Management Consultant.
Example 2: Software Expertise
Your company is considering migrating to a new ERP system and has asked you to research the options. You can’t bring on an IT manager full-time because you are on a tight budget, but you’re also not an expert in ERP systems. So you decide to hire an IT Management Consultant to help with the project.
The consultant first assesses your company’s current IT infrastructure and operations. They then develop a customized suggestion for new ERP software that takes into account your company’s specific goals and needs, including:
- Number of employees
- Company size
- Complexity of business processes
- Number of products or resources required
Once the software is selected and purchased, the consultant works with you to implement it, monitor its progress, and make any necessary adjustments along the way. Thanks to the help of the IT Management Consultant, your company successfully completes its ERP migration with minimal disruption to operations.
Example 3: Solving a Business Problem
The CEO of a software startup is looking to raise additional capital in Series C before hopefully going public. They want to fundraise to acquire new business interests as well as establish a solid reputation in the industry. They’ve heard that many software startups use IT Management Consultants and decide to hire one.
The consultant helps the CEO develop and execute a plan that will:
- Evaluate what lines of business are currently working best for the company
- Analyze what new business opportunities are available
- Quantify those opportunities to determine whether they are profitable
- Refine a marketing strategy for how to acquire new customers
By using an IT Management Consultant, the CEO is able to get an objective view of the company’s strengths and weaknesses. They are also able to develop a plan that takes into account the company’s specific goals and needs. As a result, the startup is able to successfully raise additional capital and use the money in a way that propels it forward and establishes itself as a leader in the industry.
Example 4: Diagnosing a Business Problem
Oftentimes, IT Management Consultants are very helpful in diagnosing business problems. Especially if the C-suite is caught up with their own responsibilities and may be oblivious to what is going on day-to-day.
Let’s say that the same startup was experiencing a high employee turnover rate. The CEO might not have the time to investigate why this was happening or may be confused altogether. They may be too focused on other things or they may just think that it’s a “normal” part of running a business.
An IT Management Consultant can come in and help diagnose the problem by:
- Conducting interviews with employees
- Observing work processes
- Reviewing data
- Comparing salaries and compensation to industry standards
- Looking at corporate infrastructure
After conducting their research, the consultant presents their findings to the CEO. They may find that the problem is due to a number of factors, such as:
- Low salaries
- Inefficient work processes
- Lack of career growth opportunities
- Poor company culture
By understanding the root cause of the problem, the CEO can then take steps to fix it. As a result, the company’s employee turnover rate decreases and its productivity increases.
How to Get Started in IT Management Consulting
Because of the unique skill set of an IT Management Consultant, the best way to get started is to have a strong foundation in both business and technology.
However, here’s how you can get started with IT management consulting from the very beginning:
Step 1: Get a degree in business or technology
While you don’t necessarily need a formal education to be an IT management consultant, it will give you the foundation you need to understand both business and technology. Many of the positions and job titles you hold beforehand will also require some sort of degree to get started.
If you’re not sure which path to take, consider getting a degree in a technological field, such as:
- Computer Science
- Management Information Systems
- Data Science
- Software Development
- Information Technology
Similarly, you could earn a business degree and teach yourself the technology side. Or, you can do what some consultants do and get a degree in both business and technology.
Step 2: Work in an entry-level role
Post-grad, you’ll want to get some experience in an entry-level role before doing anything. People won’t trust you as an expert as a recent college graduate anyways, but this will give you the opportunity to learn more about how businesses operate and the specific challenges they face.
Not to mention, you’ll also be able to learn about different types of software and technologies that are commonly used in businesses. Some entry-level positions you may want to consider include:
- Business Analyst
- Project Manager
- Product Manager
- Systems Administrator
- IT Support Specialist
Keep in mind that at larger organizations, you may not be able to get yourself into these positions right away either. You may need to start out as a Junior Business Analyst or an IT Help Desk Technician.
And that’s okay. Use this as an opportunity to learn as much as you can and build up your skillset.
Step 3: Prove yourself
The key to becoming a successful IT management consultant is to prove yourself early on. Showcase your skills, knowledge, and abilities in your current role and go above and beyond what is expected of you. This will demonstrate to your boss that you’re capable of handling more responsibility.
If you’re able to successfully take on additional projects or solve complex problems, this will show that you have the ability to think strategically and come up with creative solutions – two skills that are essential for any consultant.
Step 4: Take on management or leadership roles
As you progress in your career, it’s important to start taking on roles that involve more than just individual contributions. Management and leadership roles will give you the opportunity to not only hone your own skills but also to help develop the skills of others.
These roles can be both challenging and rewarding, and they will give you a chance to make a real impact in your organization. In order to be successful in these roles, you’ll need to be able to effectively communicate and collaborate with others. You’ll also need to be able to think strategically and plan and execute projects effectively.
If you can demonstrate these skills, you’ll be well on your way to a successful career in management consulting.
Step 5: Create content
While this is not a necessity, creating content that maps your journey through IT management can be helpful in a few ways:
For one, it will help you to crystallize your thoughts and better understand the field as a whole. Additionally, it can serve as a valuable marketing tool, helping you to attract new clients and grow your business.
If you’re not sure where to start, consider creating:
- Blog posts
- LinkedIn posts
You can also use content to position yourself as an expert in the field and to build thought leadership. This can be a great way to attract new clients and grow your business.
Content creation is not a necessary step in becoming a successful IT management consultant, but creating good content will practically guarantee that your first clients will come to you. It may even be your gateway into IT management consulting long before you planned on doing so!
Step 6: Start your own consulting business
Once you have the experience and knowledge, you can start your own IT management consulting business. This will allow you to be your own boss, set your own hours, and work with clients that you choose to work with. As a business with little overhead cost, it will also allow you to take home a lot more of your well-deserved money.
If you’re thinking about starting your own IT management consulting business, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, you’ll need to have a strong understanding of the IT industry and what it takes to manage a successful IT operation. You’ll also need to be well-connected within the industry and have a solid network of potential clients. Finally, you’ll need to have a clear business plan and strategy for marketing your services.
With that said, let’s take a closer look at each of these components in more detail.
When it comes to understanding the IT industry, it’s important to stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments. You should also have a good grasp of the different types of technologies that businesses use and how they can be integrated into an effective IT management solution. In addition, you’ll need to be familiar with the various aspects of IT operations, including security, storage, networking, and data management.
Being well-connected within the IT industry is essential for two reasons. First, it will give you a better understanding of the challenges that businesses are facing and what type of solutions they’re looking for. Plus, it will help you build relationships with potential clients. To build your network, you should consider joining relevant trade associations, creating content, and attending industry events.
When starting your own IT management consulting business, it’s important to have a clear business plan and strategy for marketing your services. Your business plan should include an overview of your services, your target market, your pricing structure, and your promotional strategy. Additionally, your marketing strategy should include a mix of online and offline marketing activities that will help you reach your target market.
Step 7: Consider getting a certification
While not required, some companies may prefer that you have a certification in management consulting. The Institute of Management Consultants USA (IMC USA) offers the Certified Management Consultant (CMC) designation.
To earn the CMC designation, you must:
- Be a member of IMC USA
- Have at least three years of consulting experience
- Have at least three years of management consulting experience
- Pass an oral and written exam
- Have your work reviewed by a panel of certified consultants
While the certification isn’t required, it may give you a leg up when applying for jobs or attracting new clients.
Final Thoughts on IT Management Consulting
As you develop experience in both management and information technology, you will likely find that you have the skills and knowledge to become an IT management consultant.
With the right mix of experience, understanding of the IT landscape, and business acumen, you can build a successful consulting business. Plus, by getting certified and staying up-to-date on the latest trends, you can set yourself apart from the competition.
If you’re thinking about starting a career in IT management consulting, this guide should give you a good idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that it’s important to have a strong understanding of the IT industry, be well-connected, and have a clear business plan and marketing strategy.
By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to a successful career in IT management consulting.