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Is your IT Consultant a fill-in IT Resource or an IT Partner?

An IT Partner will come in and help you find out where they can be best utilized and where they can maximize value.

Most businesses from time to time will encounter a period where they are short-staffed. Perhaps you have an IT Department of 10 persons, and you have a seasonal load around the Christmas holidays. You really need 11 people at that time. Should you put all your business initiatives on pause while individuals go on vacation and the work load is high?

Business is competitive. If you stand still you’re falling behind your competition. In periods where the work load exceeds the available in-house resources you may choose to outsource some work on a temporary basis. Now this is where it gets tricky. Are you going to hire someone to keep the lights on on your servers and databases so to speak? Or are you going to hire top notch consultants that can continue working on your business initiatives while you get over the hump? At first glance, the easy way out is to just farm out the excess activities you may be encountering over the holiday season. This is a fill-in, or what I like to call a place holder job. The value add is limited. He or she just holds you over until you can get back to a normal load/resource balance.

What’s better you may ask? Get an IT Partner. An IT Partner will come in and help you find out where they can be best utilized and where they can maximize value. For example, here at Four Cornerstone, we may come in and say “Hey you guys have everything under control, but we can give you some seasonal relief by providing off-site monitoring and ensuring your systems are running on all cylinders.” On another engagement we may come in and say, “Hey we feel you may have untimely business reports. That is something we can come in on a limited engagement and solve for you since you may not have the resources to do so.” In fact we may come in and say “We know you have the workload for 12, even though you have 10. If you make this consulting investment in your business we feel we can get your load down to 10 again while accomplishing the same business objectives.”

The difference between an IT Partner and IT Resource is that an IT Partner will help you identify opportunities to make you faster, leaner, better. An IT Resource will simply try to fulfill a role or perform a task while adding limited value other than execution of that task. They most likely will not even identify the tasks to be performed and rely on you to do so.

So what’s better? Which person do you want? Do you want a team member helping improve the team? An IT Partner will provide a different viewpoint to your problems. They are not already inside your company looking at your problem from the same viewpoint. He or she will come from various backgrounds having worked on a multitude of problems and created solutions for various clients in different fields. The background of the IT Partner brings you approaches to problems you may not find in house. They will find opportunities within your IT infrastructure. They will bring expertise that can not be quantified in absolute dollars in comparision to a simple IT Resource.

Take the following scenario, which is better? I have a need to write another business report and I hire an IT Resource to do it. He takes 20 hours @ $120/hour to do it or $2,400. On the other hand I have an IT Partner that I can utilize. They have a team of individuals more than qualified. They come in and take 25 hours @ $180/hour or $4,500. However this IT Partner does a few things differently. First he/she finds that reports that are crucial to the business take 5 days to generate from the data every time it is run. He does an assesment and makes a recommendation for some infrastructure change that can bring it down to 4 hours/report. Furthermore, he makes some changes so that short-term performance can be improved to reduce production time to 4 days or 20% less time. Lastly he produces that additional report.

Which is better? It depends. If you are an organization of any scale the latter IT Partner may give you an edge in your executive’s decision making. After all, executives can only make decisions as good as and fast as the information is provided to them. If you are a small company and all you really need is that report, well the IT Partner can do that too. He may produce it faster and actually cost you less or the same amount for that limited scope. In addition the IT Partner will bring his various industry experience and provide a report that is more relevant to the business use case for the report.

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Choosing an IT Partner is not an easy thing. Choose your IT Partner that has years of experience, is a trusted partner or preferred partner with your database vendors, is flexible and lean, and can provide a team of skilled resources that can align to your business goals and become Your Trusted IT Partner in Business.

Dax Desai

Four Cornerstone

dax.desai@fourcornerstone.com

Dax Desai is an Oracle Architect with Four Cornerstone, an Oracle Gold Partner. Their Oracle practice provides various consulting, information technology, and professional services based in Fort Worth, Texas..[/expand]

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