By far, hiring a professional company or consultant will get your web & social presence up and running in the shortest amount of time. However, it usually comes at a cost.
When looking at a hiring an IT company or consultant, have clear instructions on what you need and want – be prepared to provide them this information in as much detail as possible. There are so many good consultants out there you can be pretty confident that almost anyone that meets the following requirements will suit your needs.
Tips to hiring web consultants:
- Check THEIR websites – if it is not professional looking, then chances are your site is not going to be either
- Check their references! If they are not listed on their website, then that maybe a warning flag, so make sure that you get a list of 3-5 websites that they have developed. Then contact the owners of those websites to get a feel for how the process went – timeliness, communication, satisfaction
- Check with the Better Business Bureau
- Do they specialize in Content Management Systems (CMS) or will it be HTML based? This is an important question as the CMS allows you to managed teh content yourself rather than having someone “code” the pages or blogs for you (usually at a cost).
IT consultants are experts in many software but tend to lean towards what they know best. Unless you plan on using the same consultant for ever, the software used must be industry standard AND commonly used. The last thing you need is software that only a handful of consultants know.
Remember – you retain the rights to all software developed on your dime. Ensure that the consultant provides you the source or shows you how to access the source. Document all user profiles and passwords and keep this information safe.
The larger the firm, the more confidence you can have in a team being assigned to your project and completing it on an agreed upon scheduled. For smaller firms or single-person companies, keeping to schedule may prove more challenging especially if problems from other projects rare their ugly heads!
Remember you need to find resources that fit into your scheduled and are accountable to completing projects within your scope. Penalties need to be part of any project for delays on the part of the consultant. Keep in mind that once the scope is decided upon, it can be costly if YOU change the requirements – do so at your own risk.
All IT consultants should have references available for you to contact. You are looking for end results (i.e. finished product) and working relationships with clients. Both should be positive in general. Wrapped around these two attributes is the cost involved.
You have a budget. Stick to it. Do not go over board and do not allow the IT consultant to increase scope if you do not need it. You are hiring a consultant because they know what they are doing, they are experienced in building web presence and they have “seen it all”. Their recommendations are valuable and need to be considered – before the contract is signed!
Once you have both agreed on scope and cost then sign and stick to the plan.
Though not a critical requirement in the hiring process, having knowledge of your industry could (or should) sway you to a specific consultant. It is reassuring that when you are talking in medical terms, or manufacturing acronyms, or floral arrangements that the consultant understands where you are coming from and can guide you to the results you are expecting.