5 Top Tips for Landing a Suitable Technology Consultant or Adviser

So, you need help, advice and support with the technologies in your company and want to hire a Technology Consultant, but you’re at a loss on what to look for?

Never fear, let us take you through our five top tips for finding your technology guru. 

1. Demonstrate Relevant Experience (DRE)

A technology consultant needs to demonstrate they have relevant experience and understanding of your specific needs and challenges, whether you are an SME, corporation or a non-profit organisation, you will benefit from a technology consultant who has experience in your specific challenges. 

On a similar note, it’s very important to drill down into what the consultant/consultancy firm specialises in, an relatable example of this is in marketing, often “marketing” companies are actually website designers rather than a fully comprehensive marketing business. Are you speaking to people with very specific skills, or do they provide a wider range? Both are fine, but you need to understand what they are great at, and what they can signpost you to.

Whatever they excel in, does it complement the needs of your business?

Relevant experience will give you, as an employer, peace of mind that they can deliver on their promises. If they can’t, then it’s time to move on.

2. Communication

Communication between you and your technology consultant is critical for establishing a good working relationship that yields efficient and impressive results. If you don’t feel the communication is great within the first one or two contact points (email/ phone / video/ meeting), why would it work out. Being able to communicate with human beings is critical and you must not overlook it. Not only that, but the world of technology can be a daunting place for your other employees.

Your consultant must be able to communicate any technical speak in ‘layman’s terms’ to ensure clarity and reduce the chances of miscommunication. This is why it’s imperative your potential consultant will keep you up to date about any progress, set-backs, and developments.

So, do your due diligence, and see whether any of their previous clients/employers can vouch for their communication skills. 

3. Innovative ideas and involvement

A technology consultant must be able to come up with solutions to rectify any tech problems you’re experiencing. A great technology consultant will look to the future and determine what will benefit your business needs moving forward. 

Whether it’s improved online customer service or enhancing your digital consumer experience, it’s up to your tech consultant to provide innovative ideas.

In short, the more involved your consultant is, the more benefits you will reap.  

A key aspect to understand here is that the landscape out in the “tech” space is changing constantly. Your consultant needs to be constantly researching new solutions coming to market and have experience in other companies implementation experience to guide you. Consultants that are pedalling old solutions as its all they understand should be avoided. 

4. Processes and teamwork

Your technology consultant must understand what their role entails, what your role entails, and how that interacts with others in your company. This means making it clear what work is required of them within the organisation or infrastructure of your company. They must be organised and able to delegate work to team members to ensure quality control and productivity.

Efficient processes and a team that has clear process and teamwork is essential for their success and ultimately yours. As a consultancy firm, they should be able to adapt to suit your needs and overarching business goals. 

5. Adaptability and a Willingness to Learn

Any technology consultant worth their salt will know their industry inside out, but that in itself isn’t enough, they also need to be willing to learn about whatever sector you’re operating in.

Combining the world of tech with your niche is critical for expanding your business’s horizons and increasing revenue. 

Needless to say, this involves your consultant adopting a 360-degree perspective to your business plan.This goes a long way to ensure each and every one of your needs are addressed and looked after.

To learn more, get in touch with us today.

This blog was produced in collaboration with Remote Resource: Your web and software development outsource management team; and producers of Comfortable Shoes: Jhuti.

Online payments – a matter of life or death?

Online payments, or lack thereof, could be a matter of life and death for your business. Whoa horsey, that’s a bit extreme isn’t it? Nope, not really. Never more so than now has offering digital payments been necessary for your business survival, 2020 and beyond.

It has been reassuring to see that some companies (even micro businesses – super proud of them by the way) have understood the importance of integrating online payments or click & collect to their websites or facilities. Maybe some of you are transitioning as we speak to click & collect or secure card payment services, but if it hasn’t crossed your mind or worse still, has crossed your mind but you don’t think it’s worth it, it’s time to reconsider.

There will be businesses who will carry on regardless with cash only options or even hand held card readers (passing the terminal between staff -ugh), and it will be at the discretion of the customer as to whether they continue to shop with you, knowing that you are ultimately ignoring their ongoing safety and not moving with the industry times. Where small businesses used to call for cash only transactions (assumedly to save a few pennies off the transaction fee from digital payments – or for self serving dodgy tax purposes) there really is no place for this type of business behaviour anymore.

I personally experienced two situations recently that are quite unfavorable given the current circumstances. Our local Chinese take away only accept cash payments, always have. Although it doesn’t entirely stop me from purchasing from them, on the times I have, I second guess it, the truth is that it doesn’t sit easy with me, and I can’t be the only one? The second was from a small corner shop, we went to buy a couple of cans of pop, we needed to pay cash or spend over £5…unwilling to spend more, we left the shop and they lost a sale and future customers. All for the sake of a few pennies of fee.

Even if you are a bit more tech advanced, card readers and touch screen services are suddenly more scary than fancy. Sorry McDonald’s, but you know I’m right. One article in ‘Men’s Health‘ reported that you could potentially catch infections that are common in hospitals in some McDonald’s restaurants from their touch screen machines!

It’s simple. Contactless and digital payments are the safest and most convenient way forward. Plus, as I noted in a recent blog, they literally help your customers spend more money with you.

Regardless of whether you agree with guidelines, whether you think it’s all a load of old tosh or not, if you are a successful business you should already understand that you customers dictate your marketing, dictate your business and dictate your sales…unless you are cool with making less profit and planting a seed of doubt in the mind of those putting food on your table, for sure, carry on your personal plight.

If you are now having a rethink and wish to transform your business digitally, don’t worry, it really doesn’t have to be a scary or complicated process. Let’s have a chat about how it might benefit your business, and how we can help you be better for your customers.

3 reasons you need a Smartphone App – okay 4!

There are no two ways about it, now more than ever, the world has gone digital. We have absolutely no choice, both your staff and your customers are being actively or legally encouraged to stay home by the Government. We still need to pay the bills, we still need to buy basics and luxuries, we still need to connect with the outside World. In some ways we should feel blessed that we are as advanced ‘tech wise’, as we are!

That however, doesn’t answer why a smartphone App is the best move for your business this year…so let us break it down for you.

1. Nearly 90% of mobile internet time is spent in smartphone Apps. (eMarketer)

In 2020, eMarketer predicted that adult smartphone users would be spending about 4 hours per day using mobile internet, and 90% of that time will be spent in smartphone apps. Read that again, 90%! If you are not connecting with your customers this way, your competition probably are.

2. Brand exposure, conscious AND unconscious

Let me take you on a journey (it’s really quick, I promise). Your customers are online almost every day. Your personally branded App from Creative in TECH sits right there every time they open up their phone screen. Your branded icon App acts like a mini-advertisement for your brand even when users are not actively using it. The presence of an app on your customers device helps influence their perception about a brand because subconsciously our brain records every image and text we go through! Have an app ‘in the way’ of scrolling, will not just increase your visibility but help your business to grow.

Is there a better regular encounter opportunity for exposing your brand than this? I’ll wait….

3. Push Notifications

You have probably heard about these, nothing exciting here, except they are notifications which users can receive regardless of any activity they are doing on their mobile device. They can achieve click-through rates of 40%. No big deal, huh? (yes, this is my personal brand of sarcasm).

4. Mo’ Money

It will come as no surprise to you that people (you, me, everyone) spends more money via their phone. Convenience is the name of the game. Most are even willing to pay a premium to have things done with minimal effort.

Having the app already installed on your customer’s phone means they do not have to remember a specific web address or even use a search engine to find your business.

With online booking or click & collect at your customers finger tips, it has never been easier for your them to spend money with you. If that’s not the goal, I’m in the wrong game!

If you want to discuss how a smartphone App might work for you, in simple terms, no bamboozling, talking to Creative in TiME should be your first step.

Advisors vs Consultants – can you tell the difference?

Wade into the world of consultancy, advisers, coaches, mentors & interims you will likely find yourself a little confused. Fear not, it’s not you, it’s the confusing state of the independent industry.

You’ll hear talk of the “Big 4”, Transformation, Fintech, Turnaround, Pivoting, Resilience, Talent Strategy to name but a few. 

Advisors vs Consultants – can you tell the difference? – StrategyFred

Advisors and consultants are talked about in the same breath, painted as the same to so many, yet are really very different. Greatly misunderstood by employees alike, but let’s get some clarity.

The biggest difference between advisors and consultants is that advisors help you think about and plan your future needs (e.g. guide you to see the need for a new business structure or business system) whilst consultants will analyse and help you implement changes you have likely already identified (e.g. work out which business system suits you best and implement it) . 

Consultants tend to be specific in functional areas and great in the detail (e.g. sales or operations) and advisors more general across multiple disciplines, perhaps less so involved with the nitty gritty specifics. Consultants tend to focus on changes in the business, advisors operate at a more strategic leadership level and changes to the business.

Consultants tend to be short term and project based, advisors tend to form a longer term partnership with the business and the leadership team.

So, both are valuable, both have their place, and both are different. Lets not confuse advisors and consultants with coaches, who are different again. Coaches can work with individuals and teams without having any understanding of your business, whereas both advisors and consultants will require either an understanding of your business or your needs. Advisors will have a breadth of experience which will help guide you on your journey in business and can act as leaders within your business when needed. Consultants will provide expertise to make specific changes to your business.

So, if you are looking at your business and wondering what changes you need to make, you will benefit from an advisor. If you already know the changes you wish to make, and need an expert to make the changes, you likely need a consultant. If you are wrestling with your own motivation and pathway in life, you likely need a coach.

At Creative in TiME, we are business advisors with a twist of coaching. TiME is your most precious resource, we help you make the most of it. We will work with you at a senior level to look at your future plans and advise and support you in identifying the changes you need to make and how you can make them. We love helping you reach your goals and work in partnership with you to achieve this.


Risks vs Issues explained!

Through my career going back to my project and programme management days through to executive management I always enjoyed pointing out the difference between a risk and an issue, and was often bemused at how many six figure “business experts” could not discern one from another. 

So, I thought I would share, in my own humble opinion, my views…..

Lets start with the basics:

  • A RISK is something that may, or may not happen but hasn’t yet happened.
  • An ISSUE is something that HAS happened and is having or has had an impact.

So let’s make a really easy example to create a view:

If you are driving a car and you see a pot hole in the road ahead, the pot hole is in the future, it hasn’t “happened” to you or your car yet. There is a RISK that you will hit the pothole which may have an impact on either you, your car or your load. (E.g. IF I hit that Pot hole in the road THEN I may spill my nice cup of coffee that Fred Warner made me!)

The pot hole won’t hit you, you will hit it! If you have your eyes open and on the road, you can assess that there is a risk of hitting said pot hole and decide on which course of action to take: Avoid, Mitigate, Reduce, Accept (the typical methods). To AVOID it you could steer round the pothole, To MITIGATE it you could pick your coffee cup up to avoid it spilling. To REDUCE it you could slow down before hitting it and drive slowly over it. To ACCEPT it, you think, “whatever” and carry on as you are and take the consequences. (You may even blend your RISK approach and do several of the above)

Now, lets say that for whatever reason you have hit the pot hole and it HAS had an impact on you, your car or your load (or coffee in this case):

Lets say your were thinking about something else, didn’t discern the risk, hit the pot hole, (which came as a huge surprise even though your son or daughter in the passenger seat saw it, pointed at it, and you ignored them – just like employees so often do) and as a consequence the coffee has spilt all over your lap (and you are now shouting at your son or daughter for distracting you and telling them its their fault – maybe like you do with your employees?)

You are grateful there is no long lasting damage to the car, although repeating the same mistake over and over will create excessive wear that will lead to shortened suspension life (avoid getting techy here and talking about MTBF and Failure Modes).

Hitting the pothole has resulted in an ISSUE of coffee spilt all over your lap. They are not one and the same thing. One RISK (pot hole) led to another ISSUE (coffee spillage). One RISK can result in many ISSUES, all impacting each other like a spiders web of dependents.

Another set of circumstances could have been many ISSUEs coming from the one IMPACT, so maybe you hit the pot hole, spilt your coffee, suffered a tyre blow out and the shock of the hot coffee on your lap distracts your attention from the road, you swerved, crashed into a tree, and, well, you can let your imagination do the rest!

Understanding what a RISK is and how it can result in many, many ISSUES, all of which could have been managed effectively in the first place, is really the crux of risk management. Sometimes it is easy to say you can over think RISK, but you’d be amazed at how this can work.

Get your team together, play a few scenarios out that you can think of, get their creative juices flowing, and let the team go, you’ll be amazed what they come up with. THEN, most importantly, make decisions. Which RISKS do you accept (e.g. The world ending is not a plausible risk for most business to manage), and which do you take up and do something about? Maybe you change how you resource, manage your cashflow, the order or sequence of events to come. Maybe you put in checks and balances in place. Maybe you think you can cope with the worst outcomes and time is of essence. If you have considered your RISKS, you will be in a stronger position and should find yourself dealing with so many less ISSUES.

I achieved a lot of varying business deliverables to the satisfaction of the stakeholders in the past, some through pressure & blood sweat and tears, but I would say mostly through RISK and ISSUE management, far more than the quality of my planning or my detailed tracking of where we were at, and far more than shouting at anyone to work harder. (How many times to staff feel the pressure because of delays at a senior level in making decisions in the first place!)

In my leadership roles I always pictured myself as the key RISK player. It’s as though the team are in a car driving down the road, the team leaders are at the steering wheel, the team are making the car operate/ work (engine, suspension, steering, air con, etc) and it is my role to be up ahead of the car to ensure the road ahead is as clear as possible for the team to follow me where I want them to go.

If ISSUES arose due to them being unavoidable, then myself and the team will have to stop the car, mop up the issues and get the car moving again, with me up ahead road sweeping as before!

So, I suppose you could say that leading RISK and reducing RISK is like being a road sweeper!!

All opinions my own!

Fred Warner

#RISK #ISSUES #Management #Programme #Project #Team

Hiring Great People, 5 mistakes to avoid

Hiring great people eh, if we hire great people we’ll have a great business and all will be well!! If only it were that easy, everyone would hire great people and all would be well in the world.

There are so many aspects of the chemistry and formulae required in getting great people that a great person in one business may not fit at all in another business. We are all different, from our cultural preferences, to the leadership styles we like, so much of what makes great employees depends on the employer as opposed to the employee who so often leave,  get released or become career stagnant because they were the “wrong” person. Have you got clear roles & responsibilities?Are you being honest about the culture within the business? Do you even know the culture in your business? Are there really prospects? Is the role achievable or a pipe dream of yours? Have you considered how long it will take to get the role up to scratch if it is a new role?

Hiring great people, though, is so tough difficult and time consuming, it can cripple a day to day job for a line manager, and if it doesn’t work out the line manager has to go through the pain all over again.

Add to the hiring difficulties the constraints placed on the line manager by the wider business. So often you are forced to create a job spec which is almost impossible to fill, trying to find a needle in a hay stack, people with multi skilled backgrounds, great at everything, or trying to get high calibre staff on low salaries, often risking less experience against higher salaried alternatives. Wages are high, so getting it wrong can be very costly.

So, here, in my own humble opinion, are FIVE of the biggest mistakes to avoid in hiring great people, without telling you how many of them I’ve made 😉

  1.  Job roles that you can’t or won’t actually deliver on: Have a job spec you can actually and really deliver on as an employer: Have you all (as in the line manager with the support of the stakeholders) agreed what is actually going to be required of the new role, what responsibilities and accountabilities they will hold? Can you deliver on this role to the new recruit? How many people move to jobs with responsibilities or accountabilities promised but aren’t really delivered (maybe a micro manager up above, maybe unclear R&R meaning others feel this is also their job)? Will they actually get to make decisions? Get it clear internally on what the job spec says, what you are looking for and be honest!! If you cannot promise freedom on budgets then say so, if you expect more team management than leadership, say so. 
  2. Don’t try to shoe-horn too much into one role: Life is a constant compromise, smaller business have the advantage of agility and the disadvantage of needing multi skilled and flexible people (who are harder to find than single skilled in-flexible people).  This may be a frustration born out of constraints of affordability, which are real, however, rather than shoe horning everything into one role and expecting someone to deliver it, if you are taking the time to bring new skills into the business it is time to reflect. What are the greatest priorities? What skills would make the single biggest difference? Focus on these areas when recruiting, the candidates you see may not have all the skills, but make sure when you choose someone they DO have the priority skills as opposed to hiring someone who has all the skills without being strong in your priority areas.
  3. If in any DOUBT – DO NOT offer the job: From personal experience this is often a very easy one to fall foul of, especially when you are tired of recruiting, you have recruiters desperate for their fee and are pushing for a decision to offer as opposed to ensuring you have the right person for the role. Maybe you’ve been searching so long you just want to move on and close this down. Getting it wrong is normally more costly than waiting for the right person, so, if in doubt, do NOT offer.
  4. Don’t resist changing the role for the right person: Another area that can really hamper you is finding someone with just the right skills you need to help your business, but they also have other skills that would work for you, or these other skills mean they command a higher salary. If you find the right person for the company, review the R&R internally to see if you can accommodate their skills, if you can, re-write the job spec, offer them the job and inform everyone of the changes coming. In a growing business this is really key.
  5. Be totally honest with potential employees: This shouldn’t really be the last on the list, rather the first. It sounds so easy to say, yet are you really missing out a number of key components that would influence someone’s decision to join you? When a new employee joins, both you and them are making a significant investment of your time and effort into each other. If there are things they would have liked to know, they will find out in time and may not only hold you in disregard for it, but also then move on leaving you no better off. Have you got a really difficult and picky Finance department, is the leadership style of the business dictatorial or alternatively procrastinating? Is their overlap and conflict at a management level that affects employees day to day as they watch leaders battle it out, undermining each other as they seek to gain favour and influence? Is there a reason someone would not join you? If so, you should tell them, but also seek to resolve it. 

So, in summary, recruitment is really tough and time consuming to get the right people! In my own experience, I’d say I’ve got less than 50% success rate on hiring people that turned out great, which is hard to admit! How about you?

#Recruitment #Leadership #Talent #Hiring #People #Employee #Employer #Agencies