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Startup Consultants: Who Are They and When Your Startup Needs One

Grzegorz Smialek 45f04a104a

12/01/2021 |

10 min read

Grzegorz Śmiałek

Technology plays a significant role in businesses across every single sector, from financial services to manufacturing. That's mainly because of the disruptive influence of innovative startups that take advantage of the latest technologies to bring new products and services to the market. 

In fact, technology plays an even more important role in a startup that relies on technological savviness and know-how to deliver innovative products, generate profits, attract investors, and get recognized as a unicorn. That's why so many startup owners bring technology consultants on board to get expert advice about how to use technology more efficiently. 

Technology consulting services are geared at organizations of different sizes. In general, their goal is to make these organizations more productive and profitable through optimizations and new technology. 

In the tech world, there exist several types of consulting, including IT consulting, software development consulting, and technology stack consulting among others. If you run a technology-based startup and think that you might have a better chance at succeeding if someone from the outside comes in and takes a look at your technology stack, technology consulting services could be an interesting option for you. 

Read this article to find out what technology consulting is all about, what benefits it brings to startups, and when to hire a consultant for your startup.

 

Table of contents:

  1. What is startup technology consulting? 
  2. Forms of technology consulting
  3. Benefits of hiring startup technology consulting experts
  4. Challenges of technology consulting services
  5. When to hire a consultant for your startup?

 

What is startup technology consulting? 

You probably realized by now that the role of a technology consultant is mainly to help their clients use technology better. 

Most of the time, technology consulting is a service that helps companies by reducing the costs of their IT infrastructure, improving processes that take place inside, and maximizing technology investments. Areas of technology consulting may include: 

However, technology consulting might mean a lot more for startups. A consultant might play a significant part in formulating an entire strategy related to the technology stack and product development direction from a technological standpoint. 

Since technology changes very quickly, consulting is becoming essential for rapidly growing companies like startups. In this context, consulting services are all about developing and implementing a technology that can accelerate business growth, reduce costs, manage risk better, or change how the entire system functions.

Forms of technology consulting

Technology consulting comes in different forms. 

Here are a few examples to help you understand what options you're looking at if you're running a tech startup:

  • Technology consulting can be delivered by service firms that have a large number of experts on board. They usually charge a very high bill.
  • Staffing firms can send technology experts to businesses for limited time periods to address problems like temporary skills shortage, highly technical projects, or employee absences.
  • Independent consultants are self-employed and deliver services to clients on a per-project basis. For example, IT security specialists bring in their expertise to solve a particular problem or achieve a specified goal.

 

What do technology consultants actually do? 

A technology consultant often manages and implements strategies aiming to optimize the use of IT infrastructure, solutions, and teams. But IT consulting services can range from creating a new technology stack to managing the entire ecosystem of processes for the client. A consultant can play a vital role in planning and developing a new IT system and examining its risks.

Technology consulting services can play the role of an external IT department, but most of the time, projects that rely on technology consulting are focused on implementation. 

Consultants are usually hired to check whether the proposed project makes sense and then realize it. Specific tasks of technology consultants include: 

  • checking the cost of the proposed solution,
  • carrying out research,
  • planning the implementation,
  • ensuring quality control,
  • implementing organizational consulting.

A consultant may also act as an interface between your company and hardware or software providers. 

Most of the time, a consultant will carry out the following tasks:

  • presenting strategies and plans to clients,
  • building and providing solutions,
  • showing how technology may impact different business areas,
  • communicating with different team members,
  • visiting client sites,
  • bringing in new systems and monitoring their implementation,
  • creating documentation and delivering progress reports,
  • becoming involved in support, sales, and other business areas,
  • bringing in new trends, ideas, and perspectives on a technology problem.

The work carried out by tech consultants is carried out within a fixed time period. The idea is that consultants provide the resolution in a timeframe that you agreed upon. 

Benefits of hiring startup technology consulting experts 

Here's a list of several benefits that hiring external tech consultants may bring to your startup. 

 

1. Faster speed to market 

The number one reason why working with technology consultants makes sense is that it helps to accelerate product design, development, and launch. That's because the industry expertise consultants bring in acts as a game-changer for many startups. 

Supporting innovation and accelerating speed to market are critical imperatives of any business that wants to survive today. 

Since consultants offer external cross-industry perspective, independence, and broad experience in deploying leading-edge technologies, they're well-positioned to help startups to drive change and deliver products faster. 

While startups might have great ideas, they often struggle with execution. This is where a consultant comes to streamline the process and ensure that every tech investment comes with the highest possible ROI.

 

2. Professional Proof of Concepts (PoCs)

Innovations impact tech startups just as much as other types of companies – or even more! That's why consultants can be so important to a startup's life by playing a critical role in creating Proof of Concepts in order to test software or show it to investors. 

Consultants are also often part of Research and Development projects or are brought to deliver an initial R&D proposal for a Proof of Concept to create a new product.

 

3. A broader perspective

Building a product is no longer enough to develop a sustainable business model. Startups often turn to consultants to help them create product roadmaps that deliver meaningful engagement with consumers across the entire industry ecosystem. 

By working with consultants, startups get a broader perspective on how their products and services could impact the sector. At the same time, consultants can deliver broader transformational capabilities and allow tech startups to focus on their core proposition. 

 

4. Avoiding costly mistakes

Consulting companies offer great support to rapidly growing tech startups by allowing them to learn from the mistakes of others. 

For example, scaling non-core operations disproportionately with core operations could reduce the efficiency and agility of a startup. The startup itself might not be aware of that. Bringing in a consultant could open your eyes to such problems and allow you to avoid them in the future and remain competitive.

Challenges of technology consulting services

There are a few things you should be aware of when it comes to hiring consultants for your startup. 

 

1. Developing a good relationship

One of the most significant issues around that model is that consultants may be incentivized to develop a particular type of relationship with their clients. What does it mean? To operate profitably, consultancy agencies need to make sure that their employees are booked out for as much time as possible. 

So, when the business is slow, these consultants might be encouraged to push overly complex and bloated solutions to ensure revenue stream. However, this is less common among startups than large multinational corporations. 

 

2. Building trust

Another issue is that the process of building trust between the consultant and the technical team (if your startup has one) might take a while. The advice given by a resource such as a consultant might not be instantly usable by the technical team simply because there exists an implicit mistrust of its source. 

When working with agile, self-organizing teams, hiring an external tech consultant might cause some managerial hardships. However, by choosing the right consultant and allowing them time to get to know the tech team, you can help to develop a good relationship that will mitigate this risk.

 

3. Implementing insights

Consultants are often valuable resources, but one of the most significant downsides is ensuring that hiring them leads to concrete, measurable outcomes that have a direct influence on your revenues and bottom line.

Too often, a consultant will provide you with a plan and blueprint for making something happen, but there will be no follow-up to ensure that their plan is executed and its outcomes are monitored.

When to hire a consultant for your startup?

There are a couple of key ares in which technology consultants may prove helpful for your startups. 

They can help you:

  • determine your business goal,
  • realize cost savings,
  • deal with data successfully,
  • improve your processes,
  • get a fresh perspective.

 

1. Determining your business goal

The best way to determine whether you need to hire a consultant is by starting with understanding the goals of your company – and checking if a consultancy can support it. 

Take a good look at the consulting company: 

  • Is their portfolio centered around your business needs?
  • Do they have related knowledge and expertise that could help you solve your problems?
  • Do they have experience in working with startups in your niche?

If so, they're a good potential partner.

 

2. Realizing cost savings

Hiring IT experts might turn out to be very expensive, especially if you're a budding startup with no funding. The advantage of bringing in a tech consultant is that the person will get paid for the work done in a specific timeframe. That way, you avoid paying the high monthly salary for services that you can get externally. 

Note that technology consulting can also be about suggesting or implementing software or hardware solutions in the business. For example, a consultant might suggest some software that would streamline and automate your processes.

 

3. Dealing with data successfully

Another service tech consultant can offer is related to big data analysis. A consultant like that will help you find the best way to collect and analyze data related to your customers and business processes. By doing that, you gain access to insights that can be used for marketing and sales campaigns, or even to optimize your daily operations.

 

4. Improving your processes

Your consultant is an expert, if not a top expert, in their area. They have years of expertise in solving the problem that you're tackling for the first time. Why try to reinvent the wheel when you can hire a consultant who can run the wheel for you? 

 

5. A fresh perspective

A consultant coming into your startup to solve a problem might provide you with a unique viewpoint on your business – an entirely new perspective. As outsiders, consultants can understand the larger picture of the market and where your company fits into it. Their ideas can inspire your internal team to think in fresh ways and solve issues in novel ways.

 

Startup technology consulting - conclusion

9 out of 10 startups fail within the first year of operation. If you're running a tech startup, technology consulting services might be exactly what you're looking for. 

At Codete, we help rapidly growing startups to take advantage of the most innovative technologies on the market by delivering solutions, implementation plans, and technology strategies. Don’t hesitate to contact our startup technology consultants!

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Grzegorz Smialek 45f04a104a

Grzegorz Śmiałek

Managing Director at Codete. He is a Master of Law and has a Harvard Business School degree. A business leader with extensive experience in finance and team management. Specialist in startups and business development.

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