Computer software is ever-changing, yet without the right framework, running the software becomes difficult. When deciding whether to upgrade your hardware and what to upgrade to, a computer hardware consultant can assist. You have a hardware consultation in Dallas coming up, but you have no idea what you’ll be walking into. What will the meeting be like?
Here’s what to expect when meeting with a computer hardware consultant:
- The consultant will ask questions of you as you do of them
- They should discuss their experience and their services
- You two may draft a plan for how their services can improve your hardware efficiency
- Contract lengths and project figures may be discussed
- You don’t have to decide if you want to work with the consultant during the meeting
In today’s post, we’ll walk you through your first hardware consultant meeting. You may choose to work with this consultant or seek the services of others, but the only way to know is to meet.
Here’s how it will go.
5 Things You Should Expect During Your Meeting with a Computer Hardware Consultant
They Will Have Questions for You Too
Like you do when choosing any service, before you ever reach the meeting stage, you begin by doing lots and lots of research. You combed the Internet for hardware consultations in Dallas, looking for a consultant with the level of proficiency your company desires.
Now that you’ve found a few and perhaps spoken to them on the phone a time or two before, you’re gearing up to meet in person. After researching the consultant’s website, social media, and relevant news clips, you’re going to have further questions. That’s good, so make sure you bring your list of questions with you to the meeting.
Just expect that you won’t be the only person asking questions during this appointment. The hardware consultant is going to have questions for you too, so make sure you answer them all. This will help the consultant better decide which of their services are best for your company.
The hardware consultant may ask the following questions of you:
- What industry is your company?
- How many employees does your company have?
- What hardware are you currently using?
- How many users rely on the hardware?
- When was the last time you’ve updated your hardware?
- What are your current challenges you face with your hardware?
- What hardware options are you looking into?
- What is your computer hardware budget?
There may be further questions the hardware consultant asks, but these are a good start. Before the meeting, refresh yourself on this list of questions. Make sure you have the answers you need. This prevents you from having to pause the meeting, go outside, call a boss or higher-up, and wait until they can provide you the information. For the professionalism of your company, it’s best if such a scenario doesn’t come to pass.
There Should Be Some Discussion of Qualifications and Services
The bulk of the first meeting with the computer hardware consultant may be bandying questions back and forth, but there should also be some time devoted to talking about the qualifications of the consultant.
The more certifications your consultant has, the better. Here are some such certs they may possess:
- Systems Security Certified Practitioner or SSCP
- Project Management Institute’s (PMI) Certified Associate in Project Management or CAPM
- Microsoft Technology Associate or MTA
- Microsoft 365 Fundamentals certification
- CompTIA Security+
- CompTIA Network+
- CompTIA A+
- CompTIA IT Fundamentals+
- Cisco Certified Network Associate or CCNA
- Cisco Certified Technician or CCT
These certifications are considered entry-level, so if your computer hardware consultant lacks any certification at all, you should be prepared to keep looking for the right consultant for your company, because it’s not them.
Keep in mind that some IT and computer certifications are good for life while others expire every few years, such as every two to five years. Be ready to ask the consultant if their cert is current and how long it will be until it expires.
Once you get past the part of the meeting about the hardware consultant’s qualifications, you also want to cover their breadth of services. More than likely, going into this meeting, you have a pretty good idea of what the computer hardware consultant can and cannot do, but you need to know every last service they offer. Thus, if there’s any ambiguity, do make sure you clear it up.
It’s only after you have this information–both the consultant’s certifications and especially a list of the services they offer–that you can decide whether proceeding is within your company’s best interest.
A Plan May Be Drafted for Improving Your Company’s Hardware
By this point in the meeting, your questions have been asked and answered, the hardware consultant’s questions have been asked and answered, and you’re familiar with the services they offer. The meeting may end there depending on how much time you have scheduled with the consultant.
If there’s still more time, the hardware consultant may begin spit-balling a loose plan for how they can improve your company’s hardware. Whether it’s a full hardware upgrade across the board, only some computers or devices that get upgraded, or even a discussion of new hardware infrastructure, talking like this with the consultant makes it easier for you to envision using their services.
That is kind of the point. The hardware consultant is trying to make themselves seem as useful as possible to you because they know you’re considering other options. They want to be the one to win the contract with your company.
The Consultant May Mention Project Figures and Contract Lengths
This is something that may or may not happen during the first meeting, again depending on time constraints and how well things are progressing to this point. If you are leaning more towards working with this computer hardware consultant, then their fees will undoubtedly be a topic of discussion sooner or later.
Perhaps the consultant charges a flat fee, in which case they may be able to indicate their costs with a pricing sheet. Here are some other billing options a hardware consultant may use.
- Labor hours: This is like hourly billing, where the hardware consultant only charges you according to the hours they spent working on your computer hardware. The upside is that you could pay less for the work than if you’re charged a flat fee. Keep in mind the disadvantages of this pricing model though. For one, what a consultant defines as labor versus what you define as labor might not gel, so you must have clear terms. Also, the cost of materials is likely not rolled into a labor-hours billing plan.
- Time and materials: The next pricing model is for time and materials. This includes labor and the costs of accruing materials like computer hardware. Other charges that may be included are indirect costs, direct costs such as travel, and subcontract costs if the consultant works with other vendors or manufacturers. This type of plan may be more cost-effective than being charged solely by labor hours.
- Cost plus fixed fees: A computer hardware consultant that uses fixed fees for their work will outline as much upfront in a contract. These fees are sometimes adjusted depending on if the contractor has to do more work or less than anticipated, but for the most part, they’re set in stone. You’d also pay for the cost of the work on top of the fixed fee.
Along with pricing will come the discussion of a contract. The consultant likely offers contracts at varying lengths, such as six months long, one year, or even multi-year contracts. They may have a sample contract that you can glance over, which is helpful.
Now is a chance to pepper the consultant with questions about the contract if you have them, so make sure if there is a sample contract that you read the fine print. Sure, the sample contract isn’t a legally-binding document, but it shows what you would be in for should you hire this computer hardware consultant.
There’s No Need to Decide on a Consultant Right Away
By the time you shake hands and walk away from that first meeting (or perhaps a second or even third meeting), you should feel good about all the information you have gathered on the computer hardware consultant.
We do want to mention that even if the conversation gets into sample hardware plans, contracts, and billing that you haven’t explicitly agreed to anything with this consultant yet, or you shouldn’t have. If they pressure you into making a decision during the first meeting or the second one, then you’ll have to open your search back up.
Rarely are decisions for a company made by just one person. You’ll have to meet with other key stakeholders in your company to discuss this computer hardware consultant.
You should meet with a handful of consultants before you make up your mind. Even if you think you’ve got a really good candidate now, the next one you meet could be even better.
When you’ve had several meetings and compared services, contract lengths, and pricing, your choice should be clear from there.
Computer hardware consultants can help your company revamp its hardware, but you won’t know which consultant is a good pick until you meet with several of them. Now that you’re aware of what the first (and possibly second) hardware consultation in Dallas should entail, you can make the most of these appointments with a computer hardware consultant!