How to Choose a Quality Network Security Consultant
Network security is a multi-faceted issue that affects many businesses more than they know. While the primary concern is generally preventing external breaches, things like internal data loss and regulatory compliance can be potentially damaging as well.
A skilled network security consultant can help highlight potential issues and create a cohesive prevention plan to keep your business safe. Here are some useful tips for finding a quality network security consultant.
Identify Your Objectives
Before reaching out to a potential consultant, take some time to brainstorm with key stakeholders in your business about your objectives. What does your business need when it comes to network security services?
Depending on the size and nature of your business, you might only require the basics, such as screening for malware and ensuring you have a firewall in place. Conversely, you might have a business that’s making the shift from in-house servers to the cloud.
While you might discover other areas of improvement upon speaking with a consultant, having a general idea is integral for getting the conversation started.
Look at Their Reputation
Take some time to research network service consultants that suit your needs. It’s also worth asking other businesses who they would recommend. Be mindful of online reviews, testimonials, and case studies that add social proof to drive your decision-making process.
Identify Relevant Experience
In addition to looking at the consultant’s reputation as a whole, you should also be looking for relevant experience. While a consultant who works with large enterprises might have the skills and years of experience to get the job done, they might not be right for your five-employee accounting firm.
Find a consultant who has worked with businesses similar to yours and focuses on the offerings you need. As mentioned before, cybersecurity is a multi-faceted issue. There’s plenty of variability in offerings and areas of expertise.
There are plenty of certifications for cybersecurity and IT support. While these certifications can add legitimacy to a business, the proven experience will always trump a piece of paper.
Look at the Whole Team
The term “consultant” doesn’t always refer to an individual. Many consultant services offer a team-led approach to solving the needs of their clients. This can be beneficial, as it allows for a broader scope of work and often presents results more efficiently.
Take a look at the entire team that could potentially be working with your business. Note their titles, skills, and individual experience levels as well.
Look at Offerings in Entirety
Many consultants will offer a variety of solutions that pertain to different needs. If you’re looking to incorporate fully managed network security services, look for a consulting service that offers a comprehensive package. While having a robust team is great, operating in silos is not.
You should also reach out to determine if the companies you’re vetting have custom options or if solutions are entirely out-of-the-box. Businesses often have subtle nuances that set them apart from one another when dealing with cybersecurity needs. Finding a consultant that takes time to understand your needs and presents a custom solution is ideal.
Consider Analtyics and Performance Metrics
Another thing to consider when talking to potential consulting services is how they communicate and show progress. You’ll want to work with a service provider that prioritizes communication and transparency.
A quality network security consultant will have no problem telling what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. They’ll be willing to present reports and analytics that provide deeper insights into your business.
Your consultant should be willing to work with milestones to keep projects moving forward and take a team approach to your interactions. Furthermore, they should be able to explain things to you in layman’s terms rather than trying to sound impressive by spouting industry jargon.
When you narrow down your options and create a shortlist of potential network security consultants, it’s time to ask the tough questions. If you haven’t already discovered this information during the research process, consider asking the following:
- What certifications does your team have in relation to network security?
- At a glance, what is my business’s biggest security threat?
- What process do you follow for determining the needs of a business?
- Who on your team will be involved in the process?
- What do you offer in regards to employee training, off-boarding, and follow-up support?
- What can I expect in terms of downtime? Do you work off-hours to mitigate downtime disruptions?
- What will you require from my company to get things done?
- How do you prefer to communicate progress and milestone tracking?
- How will I be able to measure these improvements as someone with limited knowledge?
- How do you ensure compliance and data protection when working with sensitive information?
Once you’ve had your questions answered and select the right consultant for your business, be sure to get everything in writing. Having a statement of work, contract, and an NDA helps both your business and the consulting business stay protected. And after all, security is a focal point for both of you.