The Importance of Needs Assessments in Computer Consulting

Depending on the size of a company and its computer culture, implementing new computer solutions can range from being a quick, hassle free process to a complex process that requires a computer consultant to consider various criteria before proposing solution. In most cases, large companies where multiple employees will access a new computer system require computer consultants to conduct an in depth needs assessment that considers computer solutions form a variety of company angles, including a company’s organizational structure, its human resources, its competition, its customers, its employees at all levels, its staffing and employee turnover, its management and employee reward programs, its sales figures, its marketing strategy and its mission, goals and objectives, among other concerns.

In a needs assessment of this depth, the goal is to provide solutions that increase a company’s effectiveness without first resulting in a learning curve that compromises employee productivity and negatively impact a company’s bottom line. Nevertheless, some managers exhibit an unwillingness to pay for in depth needs assessments and instead prefer that a computer consulting firm implement solutions from a more superficial standpoint. In most cases, a manager’s reluctance to opt for an needs assessment results from the belief that the money would be better invested in specific remedial sessions, which leaves a computer consulting firm with two options: give the company what they want, even if it won’t result in the long-term benefits that the company desires, or insist on the importance of conducting a needs assessment in the face of losing business.

In addition to these two scenarios, some computer consulting firms take the approach that, if they give a client what they want, the client will return for additional consulting after discovering that the consultant was right about a needs assessment. However, the likelihood of a company returning to a consultant that didn’t implement an effective solution the first time is risky at best, even as the poor results came from stubbornness on the part of management. The optimal outcome for implementing complex solutions depends on two things: the consultant’s remaining set on an in depth needs analysis and management’s willingness to balance start up cost against long term cost savings and profits.

When a computer consultant dialogues with a company whose solutions implementation involves a variety of concerns, the consultant becomes a guide and mentor in addition to a technical specialist. Whereas management is usually in the position of asking questions and considering answers, its role is usually reversed in the case of large-scale computer solutions. In addition, because computer consultants are expensive and management’s job is to cut costs, the reluctance to perform an in depth needs analysis is understandable. Nevertheless, having a reputable computer consulting firm perform a thorough needs assessment is one of the most critical investments a company can make.