Modern companies can’t succeed without some kind of data management and analytics strategy, whether it’s to analyze the buying patterns of your customers or to scrutinize the efficiency of your own internal operations. But putting together a data strategy from scratch can be difficult. Sure, you can hire a data analyst for your team or invest in a seemingly straightforward data analytics tool, but will you really be getting the most out of your strategy this way?

One possible solution to this dilemma is hiring a data consulting firm—an organization that specializes in helping businesses like yours develop and execute a successful data analytics strategy. But when is the right time to hire one, and how should you choose your partner?

When to Hire a Data Consulting Firm

It’s a good idea to consider hiring a data consulting firm under one or more of the following conditions:

  • You don’t have a data strategy. Does your business have a data strategy? Do you have high-level goals for how you’re going to gather and use data? Do you have systems in place to generate, store, and analyze data? Or experts on your team who can help you make sense of those data? If you don’t have a data strategy at all, it’s time to get one—with the help of a data consulting firm.
  • You aren’t using data to make decisions. The best way to use data is as a backbone for your decision-making. All your major business decisions should be rooted in your data in some way; you need to have objective evidence or data-backed reasoning for every change you make. If you’re still making strategic business decisions without data, you may need a firm to help you evolve.
  • You’re not confident in your tools and systems. You might already have a data strategy in place, with data backing most of your decisions, but you may still be unconfident in your tools and existing systems. If you’re using the wrong software, or if you’re not working with a competent team, it could be hurting your business.
  • You can’t do everything you want to do. You may already have ideas for how to use data in your business, but you’re not sure how to execute those strategies. If you find yourself limited with your potential, a data consulting firm may be able to help you find a new angle.
  • You’re being outcompeted. Think about your top competitors. Do you believe they’re using data better than you are? Are they able to reach a wider range of customers? Are they coming up with better messaging, better products, or more customized options for customers? If you’re being outcompeted, a data consulting firm can help you bridge the gap.

How to Choose the Best Data Consulting Firm

There are many data consulting firms out there, so how can you choose which one is best for your business?

  • Brand reputation. First, think about the reputation of the brand. Have you heard of this company before? Do you see this company featured in many publications? Have they worked with other major brands in the past? These are usually signs of expertise and prominence in the field.
  • Success stories. It’s also important to study specific success stories. How has this data consulting firm helped other businesses in the past? Look for objective statistics here.
  • Industry expertise. Does this prospective partner specialize in a particular industry, or do they serve a wide range of different companies? It’s helpful to know they’ve worked with businesses like yours in the past.
  • Access to resources and scalability. How big is this data consulting firm? Do they have sufficient access to experts and resources? Will they be able to scale with your business over time?
  • Services and specialties. Take a look at the specific range of products, services, and specialties offered by this business. Do they match your business’s needs?
  • Another important factor worth considering is communication. Is it easy to get in contact with this data consulting firm? Are you going to be working with a dedicated account representative? Do you find it easy to get your questions answered? You’ll need to feel confident in your communication with this firm before moving forward.
  • Finally, consider the cost of the data consulting firm. Most firms work hard to ensure a positive ROI for their clients, netting them financial and operative results that far exceed their cost basis. However, you’ll still need to be cautious if you want to avoid overspending.

Hiring a data consulting firm could be one of the best moves you make for your business. However, it’s not a decision to take lightly. Consider your options carefully, and only move forward with a data consulting firm you trust.