When a business requires new IT hardware or software to be implemented into their environment, one option they have is to work with an IT consulting firm.
Whether you’re looking for a new business phone system, a server refresh, extending your wireless capabilities, or any other IT solution, infrastructure services is one of the many ways IT consulting firms help other businesses.
While consultants work with businesses to address their unique needs, the process of implementing new infrastructure is similar for all customers.
At The KR Group, we frequently talk to our prospective customers about this process before implementing their new technology.
From onboarding to project completion, there are multiple steps you’ll walk through with any IT consultant. Those phases include:
- Pre-sales engagement
- Kickoff meeting
- Solution implementation
- Project closure
- Communication protocols
By giving you a glimpse into the process required to begin and complete IT infrastructure projects, we hope you’ll feel more prepared when you need to lean on an IT consulting firm for new hardware and software.
Phase 1: Pre-sales Engagement
The first part of the onboarding process starts with you working with the sales and service teams to find the best solution for your IT needs.
This phase can be broken down into three steps:
1. You reach out to an IT consulting firm with a need.
The infrastructure services process doesn’t exist if you don’t need new software or hardware to address a gap or problem.
If your current solution is no longer meeting your needs or you want to add new capabilities, an IT consulting partner will work with you to pinpoint the problems you’re facing and recommend solutions to address them.
2. The IT consulting firm designs a solution to meet your needs.
With your specific needs in mind, the sales and service teams work together to find a solution to your situation.
Considering what IT goal you’re looking to accomplish, your budget, and your existing infrastructure, they’ll craft a solution customized to your needs.
Some of this is a back and forth process as they relay information about the solution(s) they’ve designed and verify with you that it’ll meet your needs.
3. You and your IT consulting firm agree on a solution.
In this step of the pre-sales phase, you agree to one of the solutions the IT consulting firm has put together for you and agree to move forward with the process.
If this is your first time working with this IT consulting company, this step of the pre-sales process includes an introduction to their implementation plan and other important details, such as how they charge and what their bill rate is.
This stage is important for repeat customers, too, because it’s where you finalize the price of the solution and schedule kickoff and implementation.
Once you’ve committed to the sales process, you’ll move into the next phase of the project: the kickoff.
Phase 2: Kickoff
The kickoff begins when the project manager tells the infrastructure engineers the project is live.
Once you commit to the project, the engineering team is getting the product (hardware and software) loaded into their infrastructure tracking system while the project manager is simultaneously reviewing everything.
They’ll coordinate a time to meet with you for the kickoff meeting and officially get the project underway.
During this meeting, you’ll go over a few basic components of the project.
This refers both to how long the project will take and when you can expect an engineer on-site.
Other details you may want to note are if your network will need to be down for any point during the project and, if so, for how long.
2. Contact information
You and the IT consulting firm need to be able to reach each other during the project in case there are any changes or emergencies. You’ll swap contact information to ensure everyone knows who to reach and how.
This meeting also goes over important housekeeping information, including payment information.
While the pre-sales team has already given you an estimated cost for the project, at this point, you’ll authorize the down payment after agreeing to the statement of work.
You’ll also relay to the IT consultant who at your company will receive and pay for subsequent invoices.
With all the logistics straightened out during these first two phases, you finally move onto the portion of the project where the IT consulting firm begins integrating the new technology.
Once you’ve agreed to all the terms of a contract, the IT consulting firm can begin implementing the solution.
While your IT consultant will coordinate with a designated point person or your IT team, the majority of the project should proceed with minimal disruption to your other network activities.
With implementation complete, the new solution is part of your IT stack. Your original problem is solved.
With this phase completed, your IT consulting firm works with you to close the project.
Phase 4: Project Closure
Once your IT consultant has installed your new IT solution, they’ll make sure to pass along the knowledge of any new product dashboards, new product features, and any other relevant information, so you can seamlessly take over the new technology.
Whether an old problem is now solved or you have new capabilities to enhance your business operations, the IT team focuses on making your team know how to work with the new hardware or software.
If you have an internal IT department, they’ll relay information about configuration and/or update policies, so they can take over the management of your new solution.
The engineering team will also go over any support contracts that accompany your new hardware or software. This includes making sure you know the terms of your contract and how to reach support.
(If you use the same company for infrastructure services and managed IT services, they’ll handle passing along what new solutions were added to your IT environment.)
Phase 5: Communication Protocols
At this point, the project is done, but there is one more piece of information your IT consulting firm needs to pass on to you. The most important component of closing the project is letting you know how to reach out for future support.
1. How to make a service request
Most IT partners have a ticketing system set up to accept emailed requests and assign them to a service engineer.
This is the best method for non-emergency service requests. Your requests will be added to the service team’s queue, and they’re able to prioritize and schedule service from there.
They’ll either email or call you back to confirm they’ve received your request and are working on scheduling an engineer to help you.
On your end, you can reply to the email to add clarification or ask follow-up questions.
Using email is the best method for non-emergency calls because it tracks all information from you and the engineering team.
2. How to make an emergency request
Emergency requests are the exception to email being the best way to make a service request.
If your system is down and you need immediate assistance to get your business operations up and running again, you should call your IT consulting company for service.
This is especially true if it is an after-hours request.
IT consultants know emergencies can happen at any time of the day, so they staff on-call engineers to respond to these situations.
Calling the service request number will allow you to connect or leave a voicemail for the on-call engineer, who will help you resolve your issue even in the middle of the night.
When you leave a voicemail for the on-call engineer, make sure to explain the problem and leave the best way to get back with you.
Whoever is on call will be notified, and they’ll reach out to you to start trouble-shooting your problem.
At The KR Group, our goal is to get back to you within 30 minutes and give you an estimate on how soon we can start resolving your problem.
3. Who is authorized to make service requests
Knowing how to make service requests is vital to getting your hardware or software back up and running as it’s supposed to. However, your IT consultant also needs to know who is authorized to make service requests.
This avoids confusion and makes sure everyone is on the same page about requesting assistance.
Moving Forward with Infrastructure Services
While it may seem like there are many moving pieces to infrastructure services project, your IT consultant should make them flow seamlessly together.
Essentially, each phase boils down to one goal:
- The pre-sales phase finds a solution for your needs.
- The kickoff meeting ensures everyone is on the same page about the project.
- The implementation phase integrates the new technology into your IT environment.
- The project closure transfers knowledge of the new solution to the appropriate people.
- The communication protocols make sure you know how to reach out for further support.
You may find it helpful to download our free infrastructure services onboarding and project guide to help you understand and make your way through these five phases.
Ultimately, we hope outlining the onboarding steps helps you feel more prepared for the next time you need infrastructure services.