The old proverb that the cobbler's children have no shoes is what comes to my mind when I hear about IT consultancies that don't have policies in place for their own operations.
IT consultancy engineers, technicians, and support personnel will perform the same tasks myriad ways. For instance, some clients' systems and networks will receive documentation, while others will not. Some engineers may find it acceptable to complete billing and invoicing tasks a couple times a week, while others might fulfill the responsibility monthly, if at all.
Technology consultancies must standardize their processes; this means implementing the same policies many consultancies should already be drafting, refining, and deploying for clients. This process should lead to better organization, consistency, and more easily repeated successes.
Policies to adopt
In addition to standard human resource policies (time and attendance, fleet vehicle responsibilities, vacation and dress, etc.) to ensure smooth flowing and efficient operations, consultancies should adopt the following policies and procedures:
- Internet and email usage policies: Technical firms must ensure staff use information technology systems, resources, and bandwidth primarily for business purposes. No one enjoys hearing that VoIP calls were failing because too many engineers were streaming March Madness games. Policies are the first line of defense.
- Confidentiality policies: Supporting servers, systems, networks, and end users means consultancies gain possession of proprietary and sensitive information. Consultancies must implement written policies to ensure such data is properly safeguarded.
- Documentation policies: Few debacles make a technology consulting firm look more amateur than when it deploys a router or another component and later proves unable to log in to the very equipment it deployed. Standard documentation practices should be documented in the form of policies that all staff are required to honor.
- Billing and invoicing policy: Client satisfaction rises when bills and invoices are received quickly. Before a consultancy can generate client invoices, however, engineers and technicians must total their time and provide descriptions for services provided. Well-written policies help ensure staff bill service consistently and use standard formats; it also prevents engineers from billing the same service at two different rates, a practice sure to raise clients' ire.
Policies are best practices
Consistent processes deliver consistent results. Technology consultancies, like all other firms, must take initiative to draft and deploy policies and procedures to ensure clients receive standardized, consistent results. Otherwise chaos can result, and technology consulting is already chaotic enough without self-inflicted process errors.Also read: Five policies for every IT consultancy employee handbook
Erik Eckel owns and operates two technology companies. As a managing partner with Louisville Geek, he works daily as an IT consultant to assist small businesses in overcoming technology challenges and maximizing IT investments. He is also president of Eckel Media Corp., a communications company specializing in public relations and technical authoring projects.