There is no legal protection given to the job title IT consultant therefore anyone can wake up one day and start up an IT consultancy business. Unfortunately this means that there is a real spectrum of consultants with a huge range of ability all out there trying to win your business.
That said IT consultants do tend to fall into some distinct categories:
The local computer shop. Quite often working out from a local retail store selling computers and peripherals these consultants will supplement their retail income with some “break fix” work or onsite consultancy. They are often very good at mending broken computers, installing basic networking and setting up basic software packages. The cost per day may be from £100 – £250 depending on the work they are doing for you.
The one man band. Without retail premises these people rely on advertising in local papers and listings and word of mouth to get their work. They may have a broad set of experience and be able to help you fix a number of problems. They may also offer a technical support service on an annual contract, enabling you to call them up on the phone to help fix an urgent problem. The cost per day is likely to range from £200 - £600, dependent on the work you have agreed with them.
The small and medium sized consultancy. Often formed of a group of consultants these people often have more specialised skills grown out of working as an employee for one of the big product manufacturers. For example they may be experts in small business accounts software or specialised CAD (computer aided design) software that you may need to use in your business. Many of these consultancies would be affiliated with one or more of the major vendors and would have undergone training and certification according to some quite rigorous rules. Theses consultants are unlikely to offer more general or ad hoc IT consultancy. Costs per day will be from about £500 - £1500.
Large consultancies. There are some consultancies that employ many thousands of consultants and IT engineers, offering everything from hardware supply through to business remodelling. The cost base of these companies is reflected in their daily charges, many with a minimum of £1500 per day for fairly junior staff. Principals and partners can easily be charged out at over £3000 per day. These consultancies are probably not suitable for many small businesses.
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