I have recently ventured into the world of IT Consultancy within the Legal market after 16 years of working as an internal member of the IT department, the last 10 of these was as an IT Manager. I left a very good firm and a guaranteed monthly income, am I crazy or am I doing the best thing for personal and professional growth and opportunity.

Transitioning from an internal IT manager to an IT consultant can be a significant but exciting change in career path. While both roles involve managing technology, the responsibilities and challenges are quite different. In this article, I will explore what I am finding it’s like to make this transition, including the benefits, challenges, and key differences between these two roles.

One of the main benefits I have found by transitioning to an IT consultant is the opportunity to work with a variety of clients in a variety of locations. As an internal IT Manager, my focus was often limited to the technology needs of the just my organization. As an IT consultant, however, I have the opportunity to work with different clients who have different needs and challenges. This allows me to broaden my knowledge and experience in various areas of IT, which will be highly valuable for my personal and professional growth.

Another benefit of being an IT consultant is the flexibility it provides. Consultants are often hired for specific projects or timeframes, meaning that they can have more control over their work schedules. This can allow me to have a better work-life balance and the ability to take on projects that align with my personal interests or goals.

Whilst having three children at home with a variety of very demanding individual circumstances, ADHD, and extracurricular activities, one is a national level swimmer, this is very important to be a present member of the family helping with daily routines and also being there for the important things in family life such as sporting events and school appointments, I was recently able to attend my daughters school to simply hear her read and this meant the world to her.

Additionally, having the ability to work remotely allows me to have a more homely work environment, and with visits to client sites as a nice variety for my working locations.

Despite the benefits, transitioning from an internal IT manager to an IT consultant can also present some challenges.

One of the most significant challenges is the change in work environment and culture. As an internal IT manager, I was used to working within a specific organisational structure, with established policies and procedures. As a consultant, I must quickly adapt to different company cultures, policies, and workflows.

Another challenge of being an IT consultant is the need to constantly prove your value to my clients. As a consultant, I am only as valuable as my last project, so I must consistently deliver high-quality work to maintain my reputation and attract new clients. This requires a high level of expertise and a commitment to ongoing learning and professional development.

One of the key differences between being an internal IT manager and an IT consultant is the scope of responsibilities. As an internal IT manager, I was responsible for managing the technology needs of my firm, including hardware, software, and IT infrastructure. As a consultant, I will be brought in for specific projects, such as system migrations, software implementations, or training. This means that you have a narrower scope of responsibilities, but you must have a deep understanding of the technology you’re working with.

Another key difference between these two roles is the level of interaction with clients. As an internal IT manager, I worked with colleagues within my firm, building relationships and collaborating on projects over a long period of time. As an IT consultant, I must build relationships with clients who may not be familiar with my work or expertise. This requires strong communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to quickly build trust and rapport with clients.

Through research I have found that in order to make a successful transition from an internal IT manager to an IT consultant, there are several key steps I feel I need to take. First, focus on developing my technical expertise in a specific area of IT, such as other case management systems, cloud computing, or data analytics. This will help you differentiate me from other consultants and establish myself as an expert in my field.

Next, work on developing my soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and problem-solving. As an IT consultant, I will be working with a variety of clients and team members, so it’s important to be able to communicate effectively and collaborate with others.

My final thought is, do I consider getting certified in a specific technology or methodology.

Do clients look for consultants with specific certifications, such as Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) or Project Management Professional (PMP). Does having these certifications help me stand out from other consultants and increase my credibility with clients or does reputation alone help me? That is a question I do not currently have an answer to, but further research and experiences I hope will point me in the right direction.

In conclusion, am I crazy or am I embarking on the greatest professional journey of my life. Well I think for now only time will tell, but at the moment I am feeling very positive and lucky to be surrounded by very helpful and supportive colleagues at Baskerville Drummond.

Written by…

Chris Winterburn