Common Mistakes Companies Commit When Getting IT Consulting

Life as a Consultant

Life as a Consultant (Photo credit: Ikhlasul Amal)

Though not uncommon, a major complain that getting assistance from an external IT consulting service provider is about the waste of investment than hiring a full-time employee that you can train, work with and guide. Done right, however, these specialised IT experts can provide just the right solution for your critical, deadline-driven tasks.

Of course it is never without some risks and tricky side attached to getting outsourced services from an IT consulting provider. However, there are few steps that you can take to ensure jobs are done right and the cost or legal risks are minimised. These IT consultants can provide you training how to use a new software, equipment or technology. Consultants with background in IT can also provide unbiased review of your company’s internal procedures, products or SEO.

Nevertheless, here are some common mistakes to avoid when hiring an IT consulting vendor.

IT Staff Employee or Consultant?

Decide the employment status when hiring consultants. You need to know as legal issues are expected to arise when hiring IT consulting, such as whether someone you’ll hire will be employees or independent contractors for your firm. You already know what’s attached to hiring a full-time employee (withholding taxes, social security fees, medicare contributions, unemployment taxes, etc.) and an independent contractor which doesn’t require those complex processing related to compensations. Consider also how much control and independence you must consider when deciding the employment status of your staff.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

The intellectual property of your company should be regarded with high priority. Don’t hire a consultant who will only hold your Twitter or Facebook fan page hostage or one who have the habit of leaving and not turning data or login information. Address IP upfront when getting an IT consulting services.

Conduct a Thorough Interview

The role of IT consulting firm that you will hire will inevitably be tied to core businesses so it is a must that you conduct an interview. Yes, it’s like hiring an employee but it is a must and you will get help from following up on recommendations and making sure the consultants have experience working with issues like the ones you are presently encountering. Remember that you must look for consultants who understand well how your project is tied to your business objectives to achieve success.

Know your IT consulting firm’s methodology

You need to know how your consultant will approach and do your requirements as this would spell the difference between success and failure. When hiring an SEO expert, knowing the methodology how such IT consulting service is performed will save you headache explaining to your CEO why your website traffic dropped 50 percent or more in the last month. Knowing your consultant’s methodology would give you an idea whether or not black hat techniques are already employed that’s why despite the high ROI you got dinged by Google in a search algorithm update.

With IT consulting service, your company can gain specific expertise just when you need it. These vendors can get your projects completed on time and help you reap the full benefits of your investments. By learning how some challenges might be addressed by knowing the above-mentioned guidelines could spell the difference between hiring a person or a vendor that can add value to your business or leave you miserably out of the dark.

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Do’s and Don’ts When Selecting A Website Design Firm

Do Not Enter

Do Not Enter (Photo credit: Ellipsis-Imagery)

While you may be sincere and passionate about giving your best shot and handling all the important aspects of your business, including your website, you must admit that there will be certain aspects of your design process that are better offloaded to the hands of professionals. Thus, deciding on a website design firm to handle the tasks of your online presence is a decision that demands careful scrutiny.

To guide you and help you make a necessarily balanced evaluation of your prospective web design firms to handle the projects for you, here is a practical guide about some do’s and don’ts for selecting a strategic design partner and make the right choice.

What are the Do’s?

  • Know exactly what you want (your business objectives, audience and sales targets, etc.) out of your online presence. This is important before and during the stage of getting-to-know your prospective design firms. You must have a starting point so that the web design firm can offer you relevant advice.
  • Register your domain name and do protect its security. There should be some limits about what your design partner know in this regard.
  • After explaining your requirements and answering questions asked to you by your chosen partner, your web design firm should now have a full grasp of your project and be able to provide you with their tentative timeline for completion of all stages. This way, you can monitor the progress of your site development and design.
  • Get to know your prospective design firm if it has the capabilities and expertise to optimise your website and render a responsive version of your presence online so that those browsing your site on mobile devices will have seamless experience visiting your site.
  • A web design firm that dedicate resources for cross-training staff in various disciplines is an A+. A multi-disciplinary team are often more efficient and they are often able to communicate better and efficiently with clients.

How about the “Don’ts?”

  • You should avoid a design agency that prevent its clients from taking part in the web design process. In fact, your role is very important in providing insight about what you need to reflect your business goals. Be sure that your design firm is able to answer your questions and provide you feedback on each design iteration.
  • If the web design firm is serious about their relationship with you, it should be able to provide you with active and functioning URLs for which to view your website, even during the alpha or beta stages of the design process.
  • Don’t neglect nor forget to layout your plans about deploying your website. Your design partner should be on the same page with you on this as you have the option to let your vendor to handle and manage the deployment process. In order for both parties to carry out this process, make sure that you have agreements on deployment to avoid further confusion.
  • A web design firm that is ignorant of SEO is not worth hiring. Knowledge of SEO best practices is an important quality that modern design studio must possess or be expert at.
  • But don’t let your web design firm to design your online site for purely SEO reasons. You still have a target audience to engage and provide your information with and not Google. Just make sure your web design agency is highly-qualified and capable of optimisation without having to sacrifice user experience.

Template or Custom Web Design?

Web design on a Boston Cream, er, Boston Scream.

Web design on a Boston Cream, er, Boston Scream. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Short cuts is much preferred in getting a project done. If business owners will have it their way, they will choose the fast and simple ways to design and develop the website of their company. Is it going to be template web standard or custom web design? If it can be done even for less than five hours, much better. But is the equation quicker always better any good?

Template web design pages offered by WordPress and Blogspot are pretty popular already. The newcomer is Go Daddy which released a website builder that offers hundreds of new temple designs and a free domain name with purchase. They also provide the builder is packed with easy design tools. Pretty tempting, isn’t it? But such may not be the best choice for your small business. Here are questions to ask to find out whether you get the best web design option.

1. How much do you need to differentiate your services from your competitors?

If your business is selling a very unique product and you still doesn’t have many competitors out in the field, there is no need to hurry up to stand out. A template web design may work for you in this regard. But, yes, but if you are selling your story as part of your service and sales, the best way to engage prospective customers is through building from scratch your web page design.

2. Do you need to update your content yourself on a regular basis?

A template web page will be useful or helpful for you if you don’t know how to program or develop your web presence but need to constantly update your site. Most sites that, however, need less updating than you might realise. Having your well-developed custom web design ready may only need to be updated when business information change, such as placing your new list of management officers.

3. What is your budget?

Knowing how much money you can spend on your site is arguably the most important question for you to ask in deciding the future of your web presence. What is your need to differentiate your brand from competitors must be weighed together with the cost of custom web design or template designs. Custom web page may be costlier but it can show a greater return in the future. Even if you decided now for a template web design, you can always switch over to a custom design later.

Always think of the end result when faced with the options of developing your website. A template webpage may be your fast-way ticket to show your company online but it carries some risks like not enjoying much differentiation because your chosen design may already be chosen by a hundred or thousand other companies already.

Given such scenario, the custom web design has an obvious advantage and edge. Designing your website from scratch gives your company a lot of chance to be noticed and attract pensive attention of your customers.

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Why You Should Consider Outsourcing Payroll Solutions

English: Payroll Process Map

English: Payroll Process Map (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Small and medium-sized business owners are faced with a number of challenges in running and managing the operations of their business. If they are seeing growth is happening, they may no longer be able to handle HR tasks including payroll processing. It is at this point when outsourcing payroll solutions can give these companies a lot of big help.

By outsourcing payroll processing, you entrust the responsibility in your finance and payroll operations to a third party vendor. Many can attest the value of outsourcing and how much money and time you’ll be able to save. Small and medium-sized enterprises who can’t yet afford to have or maintain a dedicated financial department for managing staff payroll can better take a look at what payroll outsourcing can do to their business.

Why payroll outsourcing is necessary?

When some people consider what’s involved in the processing of payroll, some have the wrong idea that this is only about writing cheques and paying staff payroll on time. It is more than that as payroll process includes the tasks of calculating the staff’s basic pay, tax deductions, computation of insurance and benefits, and more. There are also calculations over claims for medical insurance bills, housing, rent, holiday payments, and other similar items. What this tells us is the complex and arduous process involved in calculating the salary of an employee. What if you have 1,000 employees?

Outsourcing payroll solution can rid you with the troubles of setting up infrastructures required when you finally decided to setup up a financial department. Not only the process of setting up time consuming, it is also a very costly affair. You might also be surprised that you have to deal with attrition of even your very best and well-trained personnel. Small companies are able to save nearly 50% of the cost spent on the processing of payroll.

Providers of payroll solutions make sue that their employees are trained very well on the taxation rules of different countries. They also have sufficient software that can handle the payroll calculations error-free. Since they are expected to be masters in this field, outsourcing firm make sure their staff are updated with even the slightest changes by taxation authorities and government policies concerning payroll. Their full grasp of the payroll system gives them the credibility to answer or reply to employee queries about salaries either by phone or email.

When starting your search for outsourcing payroll company, review the reliability of the firm. Make sure your prospective vendor is trust-worthy and your files will be secured and not disclose these confidential information. To do the security checks, you can rely on the references or client testimonials of those who’ve previously worked with your chosen vendors. Sometimes your vendor can tell you all the positive remarks from their former bosses so you should request from them addresses or contact information of their clients and conduct your own background check.

Another important reminder when outsourcing payroll solution is by asking what other areas your provider can do beyond their speciality. It is important that the provider is also capable of handling HR and other accounting solutions like tax and compliance. You can also opt to choose many but even a single provider can be helpful in reducing the burden of managing several vendors at once and will improve integration.

Taking Advantage of Virtual Assistant Services

Michigan Virtual Assistant Conference

Michigan Virtual Assistant Conference (Photo credit: cletch)

Hiring virtual assistants these days is a common business practice geared to assist enterprises to meet certain productivity levels and growth projections. Outsourcing is especially important for companies who are just starting out because most of their time is dedicated to ensuring growth. In fact, it is almost impossible to take a break from work since it is critical to retain clients while getting as many sales leads as possible to avoid losing in the long run.

A personal full-time assistant at your office which is a local hire may not be the best financial move. With virtual assistant services, however, you reap more advantages like taking that well-deserved break.

So here are more reasons why outsourcing for a virtual workforce to attend to some of your non-core business functions can be a good move. The simple answer is that professionals know that their job involve covering for you by receiving calls and relying all important messages to you via email or text.

How it works?

Virtual assistant services can be obtained through subcontracting or signing up with an independent contractor to carry out the function that personal assistants and secretaries normally carry out.

The difference is that a VA usually work remotely either from an outsourcing company’s office or at the comfort of the VA’s homes, which brings with it extra benefits. One example is being freed to pay overhead costs like computer sets, internet connectivity and work space. Business owners operating from the comfort of their homes are at a better advantage.

Roles and Functions of the VA

Apart from the obvious, virtual assistant services include bookings or moving your appointments as needed. Since VA can perform the job for you exceptionally well, you do not have to deal with lateness or make allowances for sick days. If you contracted the VA like in pre-paid services mode, you only get to pay for the time rendered for working. Holiday or pensions required by local governments are also not your problem any more as they are often not included in the compensation package you signed up the VA just so they can work for you.

Selecting the Right VA

Selecting the offshore staff to render virtual assistant services for you is tricky. You must ensure the individual have a full grasp of the needs of your business and what your sales expectations are. When interviewing the prospective VA, request for the VA to honestly provide you with their expectations of the job and be straightforward that they will handle most, if not all, of the administrative functions. Tell the VA that you are doing this because you need to focus on the core functions of your business to perform better and of course, be able to retain the virtual assistant service. You can also ask the prospective VA about his or her capability to communicate impeccably when needed. Tell the VA at once that any poor communication between you and your VA, and your clients could compromise your client relations, and can work against your bottomline.

The virtual assistant service is a business essential these days. The value that VA can provide you and your business cannot be underestimated, especially if they will prove to be a great asset to your company. So whether you are hiring their services on a temporary or more permanent basis, you should be able to determine how your VA can be an important addition to your business, and eventually give you the breathing room you need to allot more time with your family or take a vacation.

Are you interested in hiring a personal VA? Checkout BigOutsource.