Demystifying Consultancy Services
By Todd Whaley, director of Consultancy Services, Pulsant
The IT industry is always abuzz with buzz words and acronyms, often creating a lot of confusion. The IT consultancy space is not immune: professional services, consultancy services, professional consultancy, … the list goes on. But what does it all actually mean and what is the difference?
Taking a step back, let’s consider IT. Traditionally IT — from hardware and software, to applications and tools — was seen almost as a grudge purchase; the cost of doing business. But as organisations evolved and likewise, as technology advanced (think cloud, managed hosting and virtualised environments), the role of IT changed dramatically. It’s no longer just a function of the business. Instead, it’s an enabler of growth and innovation, and is used to support the business in achieving its goals. IT has now taken on more of a strategic role.
And it’s here that companies often need help — to align their technology strategy with the business strategy to make sure that it is, in fact, a driver and enabler for business change. Not all organisations have the in-house resources and skills to tackle issues like assessing cloud readiness, ensuring regulatory frameworks are in place, or analysing licensing requirements.
Consultancy Services, as they are known at Pulsant, essentially help businesses transform in some way, improving a process, enhancing governance, developing an IT strategy or technological innovation — we don’t want to run your business; we want to transform it.
These transformation services are structured into four broad areas:
Strategy and advisory
This area looks at an organisation’s IT strategy, as well as overall business strategy. Consultants help the business understand exactly where it wants to go and how to get there. Businesses know they’re doing a number of things, implementing programmes and developing strategies, but they’re not entirely sure they’re doing them properly. A thorough assessment of IT strategy, incorporating elements like business continuity, architecture review and cloud readiness, can help refine, redefine and redevelop an IT strategy that both meets the organisation’s direction and helps it get there.
Financial and commercial
IT economics is a critical part of IT strategy, as well as the overall business strategy. IT teams may not always have the skills or strategic knowledge to consider the bigger picture, focusing more on the technology and not so much on the cost of integration or bringing it all together. Consultants, on the other hand, understand the business as a whole, as well as other cost considerations — be it regulatory, transformational or advisory — and can guide IT departments and C-level execs in getting the most out of technology implementations.
Governance and risk
Regardless of industry, organisations need to have certain frameworks and processes in place in order to either meet regulatory requirements (ISO 27001, Cyber Essentials) or help build the business. Operating according to a recognised framework means that businesses tick the right boxes (in the case of something like Cyber Essentials, it is a prerequisite for many tenders or RFPs) and can be more effective in managing cost (consider organisation-wide software licence management). IT consultants can help in getting these frameworks into place, recognising where the gaps and vulnerabilities are, and suggest ways to remediate them.
Transformation and delivery
Ultimately, everything that consultancy services does is about transformation. Getting a company from one state to the next, getting it to the point of transformation and then helping it deliver on that transformation. This can be large-scale technology uplifts, like cloud migration, or lower level transformative projects relating to security, project management or commercial management.
Where to now?
These services can bring tremendous value to a business, in terms of productivity, technology optimisation and streamlining processes and procedures.