Banking

The importance of being proactive in this economy

If you support a number of smaller companies instead of a few larger ones, you might find yourself squashed in the predicted economic crunch. Prepare now by making your IT centers as efficient as possible.

There were few, if any, IT consultants back in the '70s when the United States saw its last true recession. This means that most of us are about to experience something new, as our smaller clients struggle to adapt to the changing economy. If the doomsday analysts know what they're talking about, some of the companies we support won't survive.

I suspect most of us will watch as larger companies gobble up smaller competitors. When this happens, your role -- if they bother with you at all -- will be to integrate your client's systems as smoothly as possible. Being efficient and bright here will win you points with the new bosses, so be proactive. Here are three suggestions:

  • New IT management is going to expect immediate access to the data center you're supporting -- its systems and its data -- so make sure your management documents (password logs, standardization policies, and so on) are up to date. It's perhaps the simplest way to look good to new management.
  • The acquiring IT center isn't going to integrate an outdated, inefficient data center. They'll toss it (and you) unless you present solutions worth keeping. Update your clients with the newest technologies: virtualization, cloud computing, and Software as a Service (SaaS). Granted, you can't make that kind of change quickly, but start now to review systems and processes to determine where you can make quick changes that matter.
  • Look into middleware -- that skill should be invaluable during a merger. You know the systems and the data, so who better to help integrate systems than you?

The truth is that the acquiring company probably won't care about people -- the company wants the data. The more efficient the integration process is, the more valuable you will be to new management.

Do you have an updated strategy if the economy goes south? If so, share your ideas in the discussion.

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About

Susan Sales Harkins is an IT consultant, specializing in desktop solutions. Previously, she was editor in chief for The Cobb Group, the world's largest publisher of technical journals.

8 comments
unhappyuser
unhappyuser

Did you forget about the 1980's? Things didn't bode well early, or late, in that decade. EMD

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

Sometimes the acquiring company is looking for the people more than the data, but it depends on what kind of business they're in. For instance, companies that create software will find more value in seasoned, creative programmers than in today's version of the code (if they know what they're doing). Nevertheless, it still pays to be on top of the game and demonstrate that you're one of the ones they'd want to keep.

daileyml
daileyml

The time to be proactive in securing your job occurs long before a bad economy hits. when larger organizations acquire smaller ones they rarely start handing out pinkslips on day #1. They want to keep the good resources. After all, few companies have the spare personnel to immediately take over management and administration of an acquisition. HR files are typically reviewed, managers are interviewed, and the best employees are usually retained. You should always consider your job performance as "under review" and act accordingly. If the company considers you indisposible during a good economy they'll likely feel the same way during a bad economy. Feel free to take a look at a related blog post of mine and drop me a comment to let me know what you think: http://daileymuse.com/2009/01/technical-jobs-in-a-downtrodden-economy/ -Mike D http://www.daileymuse.com

ssharkins
ssharkins

Chip, I really didn't think about that and you're absolutely right, and in that case, being acquired could actually be a good thing for the company -- but the IT consultants might still be toast. I don't work for any large companies -- I'm wondering how many "large" companies fool with IT consultants?????

Sterling chip Camden
Sterling chip Camden

The term "IT consultant" is a bit broad. A large company might not bring in a consultant to do network admin work (although as Jaqui said, even that could be cost-effective), but a large software company could find the services of a software development consultant quite useful. It all depends on your role within the company.

Jaqui
Jaqui

in tight economic times like we are facing, a consultant is far more cost effective than an employee. no paying someone to calculate tax deductions, EI premiums, Compensation fees, no medical / dental benefits costs.... in short, the independent consultant is a flat rate where they only have to cut a cheque at the CONTRACTED intervals, compared to the costs to have someone on payroll as an employee.

ssharkins
ssharkins

A bad economy certainly can work to a consultant's advantage -- as long as the client pays you quickly and regularly! ;) You're absolutely right -- in the right place at the right time, and your business could actually improve!

jck
jck

Figure you get a salaried programmer for...$75k a year? add in 28% in benefits and retirement...so call it $100k annually. As where (if you have a long-term project), the consultant can run you $50-150 per hour depending on the technology and the specialization required. And, consultants usually are hourly and would require overtime (unless exempted by the contract). Personally, I am just staying in my staff job being salaried while I grow my business. Once I have it off the ground, I'll be set.