Today, managing a business would not be possible without IT.
An “IT consultant” uses IT to resolve various issues faced by a company when formulating management strategies.
In this article, we take a look at the role of an IT consultant, and some of the key points to consider when it comes to recruitment.
If you are a personnel manager that is thinking about recruiting an IT consultant, this article may be useful.
What is an IT consultant?
In simple terms, an IT consultant uses IT to solve a company’s management issues.
Digging deeper, the specific roles and functions for an IT consultant are outlined below:
Conducting interviews and analyzing issues
An IT consultant conducts interviews to understand a company’s existing management strategies and business systems; the IT consultant then organizes and analyzes this information to identify potential issues.
After analyzing and identifying the company’s issues, the IT consultant proposes specific improvement measures.
The IT consultant oversees projects to carry out the above improvement measures, and is in charge of managing the progress and quality of these projects.
The roles of an IT consultant may often be confused with those of a systems integrator. However, an IT consultant’s primary role is to identify management issues faced by the client and to propose solutions; a systems integrator, on the other hand, is tasked with implementing these solutions after they have been approved by the client.
In other words, an IT consultant is responsible for the upstream processes of solving management issues; the further downstream process of building the systems used to solve these issues is the role of a systems integrator.
What roles and what impact does an IT consultant have in Japan?
The use of IT is indispensable for transforming a company’s business model.
The IT consultant is particularly crucial when a company seeks to undergo a company-wide restructuring, rather than when it implements smaller-scale improvements for departmental work processes.
For this reason, the IT consultant has exceptionally wide-ranging responsibilities and diverse roles.
Below, we introduce some of the key roles of an IT consultant:
1. Developing IT strategies
IT strategies are useful for establishing new business models.
When formulating management strategies, it is vital that companies draw up concrete plans covering what IT technologies they intend to use and what results they expect; otherwise, they are unlikely to achieve their desired outcomes.
IT consultants capable of formulating IT strategies that take cost-effectiveness and installation risks into account are therefore indispensable.
2. Supporting systems installations
Advising the client on systems installation is also a key role of the IT consultant.
The IT consultant must recommend an optimal systems installation strategy in line with the client’s requirements—whether they should develop a system from scratch, for example, or customize a third-party systems package.
The IT consultant is also responsible for supporting the installation of enterprise resource planning (ERP) packages, customer relationship management (CRM) packages, and robotic process automation (RPA) packages.
3. Managing projects
The IT consultant is responsible for utilizing IT to manage the systems-building project; they must also provide post-installation support, ensuring that any installation issues have been resolved, and that the system is operating as expected.
The remit of the IT consultant is constantly expanding, and now covers systems installation, formulating the company’s digital transformation (DX) strategy, cybersecurity, IT-based innovations, and the effective use of data.
Although IT consultants have largely been employed by major corporations thus far, going forward they are expected to see increasing involvement at small and medium-sized enterprises—consequently, demand for IT consultants on the job market is likewise be expected to grow.
What qualifications, experience, and skills should an IT consultant have in Japan?
The specialist “IT consultant” is still a relatively new occupation; for this reason, the number of job seekers wishing to become IT consultants is limited.
In addition, since IT consultants are required to possess high-level skills—including IT-based hard skills, and soft skills such as facilitation and problem-solving—when researching and recruiting IT consultants, it is worth bearing in mind that demand is extremely high.
Candidates who have extensive experience at IT consulting firms, or who have worked as project managers at major systems integration firms, are likely to be highly sought-after in the job market; conversely, candidates with limited experience and skillsets are unlikely to be suited to the role of IT consultant.
As a result, candidates who have even limited experience working as IT consultants, or those who have previously worked at IT consulting firms will have a clear advantage.
Below is a list of some of the skills required of an IT consultant:
Communication is exceptionally important across the entire consulting industry. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that communication skills are central to all consulting processes: conducting interviews with clients, communicating with project members, and giving presentations on various issues.
Poor communication skills are likely to hinder an IT consultant’s work, by increasing the likelihood either that proposals will be rejected by clients, or that instructions will be dismissed by team members. It is therefore critical that the candidate has the ability to rationally and accurately communicate ideas.
The IT consultant must also possess the management ability to draw up project schedules for their proposals, and ensure these projects progress without delays.
If the candidate can demonstrate leadership to ensure team motivation remains high and that projects proceed smoothly, they will be able to execute their roles successfully.
A logical mindset is vitally important to solving problems.
To solve problems, the IT consultant is required to identify various issues, analyse them, and make systems improvements accordingly.
The candidate must therefore possess the logical-thinking skills to consider an issue’s causal factors, and to solve each issue one-by-one.
Wide-ranging IT skills and knowledge
The IT consultant must possess IT skills and knowledge in order to come up with concrete proposals.
It is rare for the IT consultant to personally engage in systems development or programming; however, without the relevant knowledge, they will find it hard to evaluate the systems being constructed or to understand potential issues.
For this reason, the candidate must possess superior IT skills and knowledge to those working on processes further downstream.
Extensive knowledge of relevant industries
The IT consultant uses IT to solve management issues; to be able to propose improvement measures, in addition to IT knowledge they must therefore have an understanding of the client company’s organizations and industries.
The IT consultant is required to deal with diverse industries and, on occasion, they will have to oppose the opinions and approaches of the client company’s management.
Even if the candidate has knowledge of the latest IT developments, they will find it difficult to execute their duties unless they can see things from a management standpoint.
Candidates with business-level English can be assets overseas as well. Since the role of IT consultant is frequently physically demanding, it is a bonus if the candidate has good levels of stamina.
The IT consultant is required to be directly involved with formulating management strategies, and this makes it is a risk to recruit candidates without prior experience in the role. If you are set on choosing an inexperienced candidate, it is important to verify what responsibilities they were tasked with at their previous jobs, and what sort of results they achieved.
While no qualifications are required to become an IT consultant, a candidate’s qualifications can be used to assess whether they have the required level of knowledge to propose and formulate IT strategies.
There are a wide variety of national and private-sector qualifications available. You can reduce the probability of a recruitment mismatch by choosing a candidate with qualifications that are relevant to the roles you wish them to carry out.
An IT consultant is tasked with using IT to propose improvements to resolve management issues.
There is no doubt that IT consultants will be in great demand on the job market going forward, but it is worth remembering that only a small number of candidates will have the desired skillsets and experience.
Even candidates who previously worked at major consulting firms will likely have been employed as systems integrators—and in many instances they may lack the skills required to become an IT consultant.
Robert Half is a highly specialized recruitment company, and our consultants have both expert knowledge and abundant experience in the field of IT. Let us help you find the talent you need.
If you are a personnel manager looking to recruit talented IT consultants immediately or in the future, contact Robert Half today.