If your company is in need of performance improvement, you’ll likely be faced with the question of whether to hire an analytics consultant or to hire internally, since you will want to strengthen the quality of your in-house measurement capabilities.
Does it make more sense to build a team internally from scratch? OR to hire an expert with the knowledge you need immediately? This is a common question in our industry and one that should be asked carefully as opposed to jumping straight into the process prematurely. However, knowing the qualities to look for with the path you ultimately choose is a great place to start.
In our opinion, the best course of action would be to first define your needs and develop a plan to satisfy them and there are a number of factors we believe any client should consider before you decide to hire the services of an analytics consultant. Here’s why:
Important Qualities of an Analytics Consultant
Analytical Skills: Analytics consultants must have the ability to understand large volumes of data and to analyze and find trends and patterns in these large datasets that are meaningful and insightful. Be sure that the analyst or analytics consultant you choose has the chops and knows your industry, preferably with some specific and relevant experience and not just the tools!
Critical-thinking Skills: To figure out the strategy that would work best for your business, analytics consultants must evaluate all available information and be able to apply the right understanding to apply to the information at hand. It’s not just about reading charts and graphs, it’s also interpreting the data and reading between the lines and knowing what to do with that information that makes a good analytics consultant GREAT.
Communication Skills: An analytics consultant needs strong communication skills when collecting data, interpreting the information and making presentations of the results to clients. What good is an analysis if the analyst can’t communicate the analysis in a meaningful way that translates the insights into actionable recommendations that the client can take immediate and profitable action?
Ability to be Detail Oriented: An analytics consultant must be detail-oriented as they are required to carry out precise data analysis. Missing key details is unacceptable. Checking and double-checking work for accuracy is paramount to ensuring every analysis is done correctly and that the recommendations made to the client are absolutely the right ones. Clients need to know that they can rely on their consultant to make the right decisions every single time. Otherwise, what are they paying for?
The Essence of Analytics Consulting: BEING RIGHT
Analytics consulting services are essential for pretty much any business because they resolve the issues that the clients might be ill-equipped or simply do not have the time to handle. It usually turns out to be a mistake for businesses that launch into data analytics without expert assistance. It has been found that the majority of organizations do require quite a bit of assistance, over a considerable amount of time, before the “training wheels” can be taken off.
With the hard science surrounding recent advances in data analytics, even businesses with extensive experience in their respective fields typically require ongoing professional support. A great deal of money and time can be wasted trying to do it alone. Additionally, the costs really intensify if a weak model results in wrong decisions.
The knowledge gained by working with a qualified and experienced analytics consultant will greatly benefit businesses in the long run. Furthermore, there are also benefits to be gained in the short term. These include being equipped to make better choices as it relates to planning and staffing the in-house analytics initiative.
In addition, the early successes achieved with the help of a consultant will serve to safeguard the initiative against conflicting budget priorities.
Benefits of Hiring an Analytics Consultant
1) Access to an Objective Outsider’s Point of View
This is particularly true for small and medium-sized companies with owners and senior management personnel who typically invest significant time, resources and energy into the day-to-day management of their own companies. This is why a number of business owners refer to their companies as their ‘babies.’
As a result of bias or just being too involved in the issues to have a clear view, business owners can easily become blind to the challenges that are frequently right in front of their faces. Having fresh eyes, our analytics consultant can, relatively quickly, spot the true problems preventing the company from achieving much more success.
Additionally, family-owned businesses frequently suffer from relationship dynamics that can make it challenging for the family members to communicate honestly and openly about issues dragging the company down.
Additionally, maybe the poor performance of a particular staff-member is detrimental to the business or perhaps there is an inter-personal power struggle triggering a lack of unified strategy. One of our objectives as neutral analytics consultants is to be able to openly speak about these issues without fearing reprisals.
2) Help With Accomplishing Short-Term Goals
Members of staff are established players within their various job descriptions. Still, getting workers to execute short-term goals when using other skill sets involved can be quite difficult. Employees who typically carry out particular tasks may become annoyed at having to undertake additional duties or they might simply be too inexperienced or unfit to take on the task.
Taking advantage of the skill sets of an experienced analytics consultant and making use of the resources obtainable from him or her is wise. This frequently results in saving the substantial money and time it would take to become involved in re-training employees, prioritizing and organizing their schedules and implementing the strategy.
3) Outside Market Knowledge
Our consultants are experienced and understand the marketplace in which your company operates. This is because our consultants have worked with companies across a number of different industries, which may or may not be competing businesses. As such, they typically have a solid perspective on what other businesses are doing and just what it will take for your company to outperform the competition.
For example, the analytics consultant could easily highlight the fact that your company is not utilizing a prevalent customer communication system that enables competitors to cut costs in a particular area.
4) Leveraging New Skills
A significant part of the duties of every analytics consultant is to keep abreast of current business strategies, methodologies, and trends. When these skills are utilized, it is normal for company owners and leaders to call for an in-depth account of these methodologies and how they were used by the consultant to arrive at his or her conclusions; this will provide valuable insight.
The bonus of Having Time to Invest in Other Aspects of Your Business
It can be difficult for owners and managers to find the time required to develop effective plans and to execute strategies in addition to their host of other responsibilities. Using this time frequently feels like a luxury the organization cannot afford. This is particularly true during the early phases of planning an initiative that might not even take place.
Sadly, lots of potentially valuable ideas and projects never get traction because of issues with time. However, when it is the job of the analytics consultant to allocate all of his or her time and efforts towards doing the work and presenting data on the various benefits and costs, owners will be able to focus on what they do best -execute.