Seven Tips for Hiring a Business Intelligence Consultant

As a business owner or manager, you have decided you need to get a better grasp on all your data. You know there are ways to understand and act up the data you receive, but it is all too much and too hard to decipher. You need help.

You can have your staff receive training, and wait on the results, or you can hire a highly trained consultant in Data Analytics, or Data Management, or Power BI, or Azure, or Tableau or something else in Business Intelligence. How best to find a consultant who can quickly and efficiently give you the information from your data that will empower you to act effectively for your business. Here are SEVEN Tips for you to consider when hiring a BI Consultant.  

  1. Agree on Definitions/Terms. Communicate What You Want

    You may say “I need a dashboard with all my Sales information on it.” Sounds simple enough. But what do you consider “Sales Information”? Sure, you want information on how much you sold, but do you also want information on how much it cost to sell that? Do you want labor costs included? Advertising cost? The cost of customer acquisition? Does the cost of returns get added to your Sales figures?

When you say, “Only C-Level Executives will need this report”, do you also mean your Board of Directors? Your investors? Your owners? We once worked with a business that was family owned. Not only were all the members of the family to be emailed financial reports, but they also wanted the spouses of each family member sent the information.

  • Ask for References/Ask for Samples

    While provided references are almost always going to be positive, they can still tell you a lot about your potential consultant. You are hiring a consultant for their expertise; you want to make sure they are truly experts in the field. You want to find someone who has maintained relationships with long-term, repeat clients. Ask the references whether the consultant was available when needed and if pricing or timelines changed during the process. Ask for samples of the consultant’s previous work. Remember, all samples should be redacted to protect the former client’s confidentiality. With the samples, seek to see the competency level. Data Management is often as much art as it is science.
  • Get Everything in Writing.

    Your potential consultant should provide an agreement/contract that includes a scope of work. Feel free to ask for changes and edits to the Scope of Work. Remember that legally it is what is in writing that counts, not what verbal promises may have been made. Ask potential consultants for this agreement with a deadline. This will help you see how responsive each candidate is to your timeline. Remember, you can always change an agreement/contract, if both parties agree in writing, after the project has started. Remember, baseball great Yogi Berra once famously said, “A Verbal Contract is Not Worth The Paper it’s Written on.”  
  • Do an NDA. Require confidentiality.

    Have the consultant and any members of their team sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The consultant will need to see your data and get to know your data to effectively manage your data. But your data has information you do not want your competitors or maybe the public to know. You may also want them to sign a Non-Compete agreement so your consultant will not work with your direct competitors for a fixed length of time.
  • Personalities Matter.

    Hire someone you would like to work with. Sometimes it is difficult to work with a person who you just do not care for, or who rubs you the wrong way. You would be surprised how many companies simply go for the lowest bidder, without considering who they are hiring. The task of hiring a consultant should be treated with the same care as hiring a permanent employee. You need someone who can not only meet your project needs, but who also communicates well in one-on-one and group situations. Ideally, your consultant should be someone who you would be happy to work with on an on-going basis rather than as a one-shot deal.
  • The Value of Hiring Locally.

    This worldwide pandemic has shown us how we can work with others remotely. No longer do you need your consultant on your premises to manage your data. However, there are many good reasons for working with a local consultant. The consultant may better understand your needs if they see your operation in person. When many people are trying to communicate a problem(s), the clues from body language can be lost through virtual conference. Often, we are given mixed messages. In person, we know what the highest priority is and who’s wishes would outrank the others. Finally, if things do not go well, or if there has been an unacceptable delay, it is easier to get resolutions by going to the consultant’s office in person. Trying to get a refund, or company materials returned is harder from 1,000 miles than from 10 miles.
  • Look for Red Flags.

    Recently a company wanted to do business with us, but for our payment they would not accept a credit card, a company check, or a purchase order. They wanted a wire transfer and then they would start in four days. Huge Red Flag. Another issue occurs when a consultant is living hand-to-mouth. They may need your payment to cover any of their expenses in doing your work. They may not be able to purchase a needed tool/equipment/software until they receive your funds. This should be a red flag. If they demand payment upfront, realize you have no recourse if their business fails, or shutters before they complete your project. A good consultant should be happy with Net 30 billing.

With any luck, the consultant that you have selected will not only successfully improve your data management but will be a valuable asset to your company for years to come, making your job easier and your company more profitable.

About 1-Answer Data Solutions:

Founded in 2015, 1-Answer Data Solutions are Power BI experts who have developed a proprietary BI Accelerator which includes a unique De-duplication process. Experienced in many verticals, 1-Answer has served the healthcare sector with many industry specific templates. 1-Answer provides Free Consultations, Proof of Concept tests, competitive pricing, and Net 30 billing. Visit the company’s website at or email us

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