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Unit 5 IT consulting

Information technology consulting (also called IT consulting, computer


consultancy, computing consultancy, technology consulting, business
and technology services or IT advisory) is a field that focuses on advising
businesses on how best to use information technology to meet their business
objectives. In addition to providing advice, IT consultancies
often estimate, manage, implement, deploy, and administer IT systems on
businesses' behalf, known as outsourcing.
Basic concepts
The IT consulting industry can be viewed as a Four-tier system:
Professional services firms which maintain large professional workforces and command high
bill rates.
Staffing firms, which place technologists with businesses on a temporary basis, typically in
response to employee absences, temporary skill shortages and technical projects.
Independent consultants, who are self-employed or who function as employees of staffing
firms or as independent contractors in their own right
Information Technology security consultants

There are different reasons why consultants are called in:
To gain external, objective advice and recommendations
To gain access to the consultants' specialized expertise
Temporary help during a one-time project where the hiring of a permanent employee(s) is
not required or necessary
To outsource all or part of the IT services from a specific company.
Describe the prerequisites and obstacles of It consulting.
Prerequisites and major obstacles
Once a business owner defined the needs to take a business to the next level, a decision
maker will define a scope, cost and a time-frame of the project.
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The role of the IT consultancy
company is to support and nurture the company from the very beginning of the project till the
end, and deliver the project not only in the scope, time and cost but also with complete customer
satisfaction.
Project scoping and planning[
The usual problem is that a business owner doesn't know the detail of what the project is going to
deliver until it starts the process. In many cases, the incremental effort in some projects can lead
to significant financial loss.
Business process and system design
The scope of a project is linked intimately to the proposed business processes and systems that
the project is going to deliver. Regardless of whether the project is to launch a new product range
or discontinue unprofitable parts of the business, the change will have some impact on business
processes and systems. The documentation of your business processes and system requirements
are as fundamental to project scoping as an architects plans would be to the costing and scoping
of the construction of a building.
Project management support
The most successful business projects are always those that are driven by an employee who has
the authority, vision and influence to drive the required changes in a business. It is highly
unlikely that a business owner (decision maker or similar) will realize the changes unless one has
one of these people in the employment. However, the project leadership role typically requires
significant experience and skills which are not usually found within a company focused on day-
to-day operations. Due to this requirement within more significant business change
projects/programs, outside expertise is often sought from firms which can bring this specific skill
set to the company.
Management consulting and IT consulting
Q. Give the difference between Management consulting and IT consulting
There is a relatively unclear line between management consulting and IT consulting. There are
sometimes overlaps between the two fields, but IT consultants often have degrees incomputer
science, electronics, technology, or management information systems while management
consultants often have degrees in accounting, economics, Industrial Engineering, finance, or a
generalized MBA (Masters in Business Administration).
According to the Institute for Partner Education & Development, IT consultants' revenues come
predominantly from design and planning based consulting with a mixture of IT and business
consulting. This is different from a systems integrator in that you do not normally take title to
product. Their value comes from their ability to integrate and support technologies as well as
determining product and brands.

Strategy and operation
What do you mean by business strategy?
Imagine you are a CEO. You are beginning to lose market share on your key product. Marketing
urges you to increase advertising and reduce prices. R&D has high hopes on a new product and
wants more money. Finance is worried about your debt level. Human Resources does not find
enough qualified people to support your development. And you have just been offered to buy (at
a good price, of course) one of your competitors in the US.
What do you do? First, you'll have to make choices. Then, you'll have to ensure that these
choices will give you the proverbial competitive advantage. Maybe you need to trim costs.
Maybe you need to spend more to innovate. Maybe you need to expand to exploit economies of
scale. But whatever you do, you will have to do it better than the competition.
That is business strategy. Some important points for business strategy are as follows:
Business strategy consulting is done at very high level in the organisation, typically the
Board and the CEO. These are the ones making the choices. Below, the organisation
focuses on implementing the decisions (sometimes assisted by other consultants).
Business strategy consulting is about facts and common sense much more than vision or
dreams. Facts make decisions easier. Dreams without facts make them tougher.
Business strategy consulting is tailor-made thinking. What works for one company will
not necessarily work for the other, even in the same industry. Strategists use tools, but
tools don't make the strategist. Only the quality of the people matters in this business.
The Three Processes of Strategy
Explain the main processes in business strategy.
Strategic management is a combination of three main processes which are as follows:
1 Strategy formulation
2 Strategy implementation
3 Strategy evaluation
o 3.1 Suitability
o 3.2 Feasibility
o 3.3 Acceptability
Strategy formulation
Performing a situation analysis, self-evaluation and competitor analysis: both internal and external;
both micro-environmental and macro-environmental.
Concurrent with this assessment, objectives are set. These objectives should be parallel to a
timeline; some are in the short-term and others on the long-term. This involves crafting vision
statements (long term view of a possible future), mission statements (the role that the
organization gives itself in society), overall corporate objectives (both financial and strategic),
strategic business unit objectives (both financial and strategic), and tactical objectives.
These objectives should, in the light of the situation analysis, suggest a strategic plan. The plan
provides the details of how to achieve these objectives.
This three-step strategy formulation process is sometimes referred to as determining where you are
now, determining where you want to go, and then determining how to get there. These three
questions are the essence of strategic planning. I/O Economics for the external factors and RBV for
the internal factors.
Strategy implementation
Allocation and management of sufficient resources (financial, personnel, time, technology
support)
Establishing a chain of command or some alternative structure (such as cross functional teams)
Assigning responsibility of specific tasks or processes to specific individuals or groups
It also involves managing the process. This includes monitoring results, comparing to
benchmarks and best practices, evaluating the efficacy and efficiency of the process, controlling
for variances, and making adjustments to the process as necessary.
When implementing specific programs, this involves acquiring the requisite resources,
developing the process, training, process testing, documentation, and integration with (and/or
conversion from) legacy processes.
Thus this type of problem can occur in strategy
In order for a policy to work, there must be a level of consistency from every person in an
organization, including from the management. This is what needs to occur on the tactical level of
management as well as strategic.
Strategy evaluation
Measuring the effectiveness of the organizational strategy, it's extremely important to conduct a
SWOT analysis to figure out the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (both internal
and external) of the entity in question. This may require to take certain precautionary measures
or even to change the entire strategy.
In corporate strategy, Johnson and Scholes present a model in which strategic options are evaluated
against three key success criteria:
Suitability (would it work?)
Feasibility (can it be made to work?)
Acceptability (will they work it?)
Suitability
Suitability deals with the overall rationale of the strategy. The key point to consider is whether the
strategy would address the key strategic issues underlined by the organisation's strategic position.
Does it make economic sense?
Would the organisation obtain economies of scale, economies of scope or experience
economy?
Would it be suitable in terms of environment and capabilities?
Tools that can be used to evaluate suitability include:
Ranking strategic options
Decision trees
What-if analysis
Feasibility
Feasibility is concerned with the resources required to implement the strategy are available, can be
developed or obtained. Resources include funding, people, time andinformation.
Tools that can be used to evaluate feasibility include:
cash flow analysis and forecasting
break-even analysis
resource deployment analysis
Acceptability
Acceptability is concerned with the expectations of the identified stakeholders (mainly shareholders,
employees and customers) with the expected performance outcomes, which can be return, risk and
stakeholder reactions.
Return deals with the benefits expected by the stakeholders (financial and non-financial). For
example, shareholders would expect the increase of their wealth, employees would expect
improvement in their careers and customers would expect better value for money.
Risk deals with the probability and consequences of failure of a strategy (financial and non-
financial).
Stakeholder reactions deals with anticipating the likely reaction of stakeholders. Shareholders
could oppose the issuing of new shares, employees and unions could oppose outsourcing for
fear of losing their jobs, customers could have concerns over a merger with regards to quality
and support.
Business Strategic consulting
a. Reengineering-BPR
What do you mean by Business process re-engineering
Business Process Reengineering Cycle

Business process re-engineering is
a business management strategy, originally
pioneered in the early 1990s, focusing on
the analysis and design of workflows
and business processes within an
organization. BPR aimed to
help organizations fundamentally rethink
how they do their work in order to
dramatically improvecustomer service,
cut operational costs, and become world-
class competitors.
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In the mid-1990s, as
many as 60% of the Fortune 500 companies
claimed to either have initiated
reengineering efforts, or to have plans to do
so.
BPR seeks to help companies radically
restructure their organizations by focusing
on the ground-up design of their business processes. According to Davenport (1990) a business
process is a set of logically related tasks performed to achieve a defined business outcome. Re-
engineering emphasized a holistic focus on business objectives and how processes related to them,
encouraging full-scale recreation of processes rather than iterative optimization of subprocesses.
Business process re-engineering is also known as business process redesign, business
transformation, or business process change management.
Explain the role of information technology in BPR
The role of information technology
Information technology (IT) has historically played an important role in the reengineering concept. It
is considered by some as a major enabler for new forms of working and collaborating within an
organization and across organizational borders.
BPR literature identified several so called disruptive technologies that were supposed to challenge
traditional wisdom about how work should be performed.
Shared databases, making information available at many places
Expert systems, allowing generalists to perform specialist tasks
Telecommunication networks, allowing organizations to be centralized and decentralized at the
same time
Decision-support tools, allowing decision-making to be a part of everybody's job
Wireless data communication and portable computers, allowing field personnel to work office
independent
Interactive videodisk, to get in immediate contact with potential buyers
Automatic identification and tracking, allowing things to tell where they are, instead of requiring
to be found
High performance computing, allowing on-the-fly planning and revisioning
In the mid-1990s, especially workflow management systems were considered as a significant
contributor to improved process efficiency. Also ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) vendors, such
as SAP, JD Edwards, Oracle, PeopleSoft, positioned their solutions as vehicles for business process
redesign and improvement.

Operations consulting
a. Domain knowledge concept
What do you mean by the term "Domain knowledge"?
Domain knowledge is valid knowledge used to refer to an area of human endeavour, an
autonomous computer activity, or other specialized discipline.
Specialists and experts use and develop their own domain knowledge. If the concept domain
knowledge or domain expert is used, we emphasize a specific domain which is an object of the
discourse/interest/problem.
In software engineering domain knowledge is knowledge about the environment in which the target
system operates, for example, software agents. Domain knowledges are important, because it
usually must be learned from software users in the domain (as domain specialists/experts), rather
than from software developers. Experts domain knowledge (frequently informal and ill-structured) is
transformed in computer programs and active data, for example in a set of rules in knowledge
bases, by knowledge engineers.
Communicating between end-users and software developers is often difficult. They must find a
common language to communicate in. Developing enough shared vocabulary to communicate can
often take a while.
The same knowledge can be included in different domain knowledge. Knowledge which may be
efficient in every domain is called domain-independent knowledge, for example logics and
mathematics. Operations on domain knowledge are performed by meta-knowledge. Domain
Knowledge is the knowledge of a particular stream.

The software engineer needs to acquire, or have available,
knowledge about the application domain. This enables them to
infer tacit knowledge that the stakeholders do not articulate,
assess the trade-offs that will be necessary between conflicting
requirements, and, sometimes, to act as a "user" champion.

What is the importance of domain knowledge ?
The first is: you want to impress your client with your knowledge. Remember,
your client is only interested in how you can assist in solving a pressing
problem, improving desired performance, or meeting a specific need. Your
client's cooperation and participation in the project is likely to be dependent on
the initial impression you make. Your knowledge of the domain will contribute
to your ability to make a good impression.
Secondly, you want to make that first contact or series of initial contacts as
useful as possible. Time is important for everybody. Your ability to ask
important questions, to seek the necessary information, to point the client in the
proper directions is directly proportional to your knowledge about the project
domain.

The third reason for gathering this domain knowledge in advance is more
subtle. The first few days and weeks of a project are the critical ones. The
experience of project veterans suggests that 80% of the decisions which will
impact the eventual life-cycle success of the decision support or information
system project are made during the first 20% of the project cycle. Your
knowledge of the domain will contribute to the correctness of those important
early decisions and eventual project success.

Finally, there is the matter of client management. There is irrefutable evidence
that the eventual success of your project is highly dependent on your team's
ability to reach agreement among yourselves and with your client on
the definition of the real problem your project will address. Every project
originates because of a need, a gap between what is and what is desired.
Frequently, a client will be unable to articulate that need in a precise or even
correct fashion. Your knowledge of the domain will contribute to your ability
to quickly and effectively reach a statement of problem definition.

b. Domain Consulting
This involves using ones domain in helping the client. A consultant who
has worked in retail industry for more than a decade would be a perfect fit
for providing domain consulting about business processes in retail industry
and help a client who is in retail sector to solve clients business problems.
Similarly, a consultant who has substantial experience in banking and
financial services may help a bank in transforming its business processes.