Navigating through the world of business intelligence (BI) and analytics can be challenging, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Budget constraints and limited expertise often make it difficult to decide how best to manage BI initiatives. This raises the essential question: When and why should you consider an external partner for your BI initiatives?
In this article, we will discuss why it is advantageous for SMEs to work with external consultants on their BI projects. The objective isn’t to make a case for one approach over another, but to provide an understanding of why an external partner can offer concrete advantages.
The Risks of Doing It Alone
An all-in-house approach isn’t without its pitfalls. Companies may face high turnover rates or discover that their internal team isn’t delivering as expected. Sometimes, learning the BI ropes can be a slow and costly process.
An internal team without the required knowledge and experience can inadvertently turn a BI project into a costly experimental sandbox, draining more resources and time than planned.
Benefits of Bringing in an External Partner
Amplified Cost Efficiency
Contrary to popular belief that managing BI internally saves money, outsourcing can be a cost-effective strategy. Why? You’re only paying for the services you need, and you avoid the costs related to hiring, training, and maintaining an in-house team.
The cost debate is often more complicated than a surface-level analysis might suggest. An external partner can absorb the fluctuating workloads, thereby eliminating the need for you to hire or lay off staff based on project needs.
Example 1: Suppose it costs $100,000 per year to employ an in-house BI specialist. Factor in other expenses like equipment, software, and training, and this figure can easily balloon to $200,000 or more. In contrast, an external firm might accomplish the same goals for a flat project fee, which often proves to be a more economical option in the long run.
An external partner brings a range of skills to the table. Instead of relying on one or two in-house experts, you get a whole team of seasoned professionals. These consultants continuously update their knowledge to stay competitive at the forefront of BI trends and technologies.
Example 2: Imagine you are in the telecom industry and aim to comply with ever-changing regulations while improving customer care through data analytics. An external partner specializing in telecom BI could provide immediate value, whereas an internal team might require months or even years to build similar expertise.
Efficiency and Faster Implementation
A dedicated external team can execute BI projects more swiftly and efficiently than an internal team burdened with other responsibilities.
Let’s say your internal team is swamped with existing IT projects. If you add a BI initiative to their plate, it might take months to even get started. An external team can focus solely on your BI needs, reducing the implementation time from months to weeks.
A mid-sized manufacturing company opted for an external BI partner to overhaul its supply chain analytics. Within weeks, the consultants delivered a comprehensive BI solution that integrated seamlessly with existing systems, something that would have taken months if attempted in-house.
Lastly, based on a company’s internal dynamics and culture, internal teams may be hesitant to question and push back against the decisions of their management. This could lead to ineffective BI practices.
A good external partner won’t be a simple “order taker” from a company’s management. This can help challenge old, ineffective assumptions and offer a fresh perspective that can benefit your business. An external viewpoint can help identify blind spots in a company’s current strategy.
Choosing the Right Partner
Not all consultants are created equal. Before bringing a partner on board, thorough vetting is essential. While cost is a factor, never sacrifice quality for the sake of a few saved dollars. The initial cost might be higher, but the value addition in terms of expertise and efficiency often justifies the expense.
One suggestion is to prioritize sustainability over short-term results. BI is a marathon, not a sprint. Look for a partner who can not only set up your BI initiatives but also provide ongoing support. Even the most perfect BI solutions will need changes and tweaks here and there, as well as ongoing support. That’s why you should have a long-term partner who can help you with these kinds of post-project cases and ensure data continuity.
Your Next Steps with Centida
At Centida, we combine strategic consulting with hands-on implementation. Our founders bring years of experience from finance, controlling, and global ICT sectors, making us an ideal long-term partner for your BI needs.
If you’re contemplating whether to go it alone or seek external expertise for your BI projects, consider reaching out to us for a consultation. Your BI journey may be a complex one, but you don’t have to walk the path alone.