We have limited core funding and no IT director, but we need to make strategic decisions about our IT set-up. How can we access expert guidance?
A: Knowing where to start with an IT infrastructure change can be a huge challenge. Ideally, you need a trusted, knowledgeable adviser who knows your organisation and communicates well. Consultants can seem expensive, but this up-front cost could end up saving you both time and money.
Your current IT support company might know you well, but is it truly impartial? There might be technically minded people in your organisation, but do they have the time to invest and will they know - or say - when they reach the limit of their knowledge?
If you have the funds, reliable consultants are listed in the ICT Suppliers Directory (www.suppliersdirectory.org.uk). If you don't, you could try to recruit a volunteer - try our own site, www.iT4communities.org.uk. Services such as Reach (www.reachskills.org.uk) can find a volunteer skilled in IT, HR or accountancy, and www.i-volunteer.org.uk or www.do-it.org.uk are two organisations that don't specialise in IT, but might well still produce the right candidate.
You may be in an area with funded advisers, such as the East Anglian team i-Trust (www.i-trust.org.uk) or Lasa's Building Bridges to IT Excellence Project in London (www.lasa.org.uk/ict/building-bridges). For other local projects and general advice, try www.ictchampions.org.uk.
- Anne Stafford is programme manager at iT4Communities. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org