Why Engage with a Data Analytics Consulting Firm

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Wherever your organization is on its analytics journey, as an analytics team leader it is necessary for you to make decisions. For example, decisions regarding new behaviours, expectations, and the need for new skill sets beyond basic data science. As your data team continues to grow, you’ll likely shift from wanting to know “what happened?” to trying to understand, “why did it happen?”.

This shift in questioning means that analytics is no longer about purely data collection and making sure it is clean. It’s about doing more with existing data and looking for more data to help understand why the events occurred.

This change in data usage leads to unprecedented demand for the delivery of analytics as organizations look to better understand their business through more formal and organized performance management.

With this demand, not all teams (if they exist) are prepared to deal with the requests coming at them from a capacity or skill perspective. There are a few things to consider in this new environment:

  • Analytics projects are evolving, and the demands for teams to deliver value to their organizations are very high. 
  • You may be wondering how to meet these demands based on your team’s current size and expertise.
  • Speed, skills, and expertise are essential for success.

I’ve seen many organizations start ad-hoc data teams. Ad-hoc teams can work in the beginning but can often lead to trouble down the line as getting the right talent and ensuring they’re equipped with the skills and tools is challenging.

Many teams don’t know how to get going in the right direction, and many more don’t have the resources or funding to deliver at the pace required by many organizations. Even worse, some organizations aren’t even aware that their company needs a data team at all.

Developing an internal data team is the best way to transform your organization into one that is data-driven.

As you work to keep things going, keep delivering, grow the team, and juggle all the balls an analytics team leader needs to do, you may start to feel the need to bring in outside help.

An analytic consulting firm can assist with finding talented team members and developing your strategy. Consultants offer a partnership to help, educate, train, and grow your internal team.

This can be helpful during any stage of your project, from the initial start-up of your team to growth that will happen later. Partnerships can expand the skills, tools, knowledge, and delivery of your internal team.

But how do you start to engage with an analytics consulting firm? What are your options, and what are the benefits of engaging? This blog will answer these common questions and share my long-term vision for analytics engagements with organizations.

Long Term Vision for Strategic Analytics

I firmly believe that all organizations should start to build internal data teams and organize the data function across the organization via a Center of Excellence.

At any point in time, the majority of resources on a data team should be internal resources, but this is not always possible so it becomes important to partner.

The first issue is talent acquisition and retention. The best data professionals are either currently working for someone else or are too busy to take on additional work.

Second, building a data team can be resource-intensive and there is a considerable learning curve for non-data professionals (and even some data professionals!) to build their skills quickly.

Engaging with a consultant allows you to develop an expert team that is focused on providing your company with the best possible decision-making and business insights.

It will free up internal resources to allow you to acquire, retain, and grow the best and brightest and provide them with career growth and advancement opportunities over time.

First Steps to Engage with a Consulting Firm

The most successful engagements happen when an organization establishes a clear vision for what they want to achieve with analytics.

Before reaching out to a consulting firm, business leadership must assess internal processes, capabilities, and demands to pinpoint goals and gaps.

Here are some questions to consider during the first stages of engagement with a data consulting firm:

  • What is the capacity and skills within your team to deliver? Even if you hire a consultant, I highly recommend building an analytics team within your organization. 
  • Does the team have the skills needed? If not, how do you get them?
  • What is causing the slow throughput? As you develop, you will have new things to support, and the support can grind the data team’s ability to deliver down. 
  • Is the demand temporary?

Analytics Consulting Options

So what are the options when it coming to dealing with analytics demand in your organization? The two most popular options are, of course, to hire more people or to augment the team. Which path to choose is the million-dollar question that many analytics leaders are trying to solve and is dependent on answering a few questions from our recent article on how to structure an analytics team.

Here is a quick breakdown of each option:

  • Hire full-time employees
    • Pros: Teammates are invested as employees. They are fully immersed in internal processes.
    • Cons: It can be expensive. A business will grow impatient if you say, “wait 1 year while I grow my internal team.”
  • Bring on consultants to help the team out, either in the form of individual contractors or consulting teams
    • Individual subcontractors:
      • Pros: Individual subcontractors perform labor for your internal team. This is a good option for teams that simply need some extra manpower in the short term but can be limiting in the long run.
      • Cons: Subcrontracters often don’t contribute much to the long-term vision and overall strategy.
    • Consulting teams:
      • Consulting teams offer a partnership to build up your internal analytics skills while sharing analytics best practices that will help you reach your goals faster. Consulting teams include a full team behind each consultant, which means there is no shortage of skills and experience. A variety of skills get embedded into the team itself. At Iteration Insights, we like to say that when you hire one of us, you get all of us. Consultants can offer coaching and training on new tools and design patterns.

Top Reasons for Using External Analytics Consulting

External consulting allows an organization to have the best of both worlds. The organization gets the best resources at the right time with the right focus for an activity.

Whether that’s to obtain specialized skills for a limited time period (span of the project) or for projects where internal resources are working part-time, consultants offer data expertise under flexible terms.

Here are a few of the top reasons for using external consultants:

  • An organization needs extra horsepower (people) to perform the project.
  • They need outside people experienced in technology they do not possess. This happens a lot with cloud technology.
  • They need outside resources with different viewpoints from internal folks. Consultants ask the why questions that challenge the status quo.
  • They want specialized skills for a limited time (span of the project).
  • Able to complete projects on a timelier basis versus internal resources working part-time.
  • Salary cost savings of not having a full-time development team.  

Where to find an analytics consulting firm?

If you are feeling like your analytics team needs the extra experience and drive from a consulting firm, Iteration Insights is here to help.

We are a team of expert analytics consultants with a passion for helping organizations understand and leverage their analytics insights for better decision-making and productivity.

With backgrounds across 19 different industries, our team can address any issues in your firm and design custom, cost-effective solutions that drive your organization forward with a data-driven mindset. As a Microsoft Gold Partner in Data Analytics and Data Platform, we leverage Microsoft Azure and Microsoft Power BI to deliver Data Governance, Modern Data Warehouse Implementation, Reporting and Analytics, and Analytics Support.

Our processes have been refined to streamline collaboration and maximize efficiency, providing the best service possible to our clients.

Continue to grow analytics in your organization and partner with Iteration Insights today.

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