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When it comes to your business’s information technology (IT) needs, hiring a consultant worth his keep is of critical importance. Yet many business owners and managers aren’t familiar with the nuances of IT and mistakenly hire amateurs who claim to be savvy professionals. Here’s how you can distinguish between an IT expert and an amateur.
Signs of an IT Phony
Some alleged IT experts claim to be experienced in the field and have an in-depth knowledge of networks, computers and digital security. However, plenty of these supposed IT aficionados are actually exaggerating in an attempt to secure high-paying employment. If a consultant claims that your business should revert back to an older operating system, it is an indication that he is either intellectually lazy or unable to grasp the idiosyncrasies of a new system. Some alleged IT experts will claim that older operating systems are more stable yet this might actually be a covert attempt to create a myriad of problems that require his attention (and continued employment) as time progresses.
A surprising number of supposed IT experts will attempt to flip used computer hardware and other tech equipment to a business owner for a considerable profit. Certain consultants will even claim that the equipment is brand new even though it has been used by previous clients. Though it is hard to believe, some consultants will even purchase illegal software and sell it to business owners at retail price. Certain consultants will even bill for work they did not perform. They won’t properly document their hours worked in an attempt to pull the wool over their employer’s eyes.
Some IT consultants will go as far as keeping the passwords to servers, Internet service providers, routers, e-mail providers and firewalls a secret. Each of these pieces of information is critically important to a business’s functionality. Every business owner and manager should have immediate access to usernames and passwords. If your IT consultant fails to provide such documentation, it is time to move on to one who will be more forthright. The same is true of IT consultants who put software and network equipment in their own name. It’s a pathetic attempt to improve job security that precludes business owners from re-gaining control of the equipment they paid for.
How to Separate True IT Gurus From the Imposters
An IT consultant with merit will not hesitate to answer questions about his IT certifications, experience and education in an in-depth manner. He will also provide evidence to back up his resume. Always favor a consultant who has extensive experience and training over one who has a number of different certifications. Real world experience is much more important than knowledge obtained from a book or classroom instructor.
Pose a hypothetical situation to each prospective IT consultant. Do some research beforehand so you know the types of answers that will be adequate. Inquire about his standard operating procedures for IT emergencies and how he goes about documenting networks. He should be able to describe disaster recovery options and network security protocols in a comprehensive manner. Those who mention outdated technologies or have an uncertain tone of voice are likely IT amateurs. If a candidate fails to provide thorough answers that address the core of the problem, cross him off your list.
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