A data integration consultant can accelerate your enterprise data initiatives. The two most common scenarios to hire a data integration consultant are 1) point-to-point integrations and 2) data transformation.
1. Point-to-point integrations - Data integration services can be used to move data for analytics, process automation, or product development
2. Data transformation - Once data is moved into your analytics environment, a data integration consultant can create data transformations to combine and merge data sets into insights
Whether you need point-to-point integrations or custom data transformation, there are three options to accomplish your goal:
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of data consultancies. At Portable, we have compiled a list of over 175+ data consultants that you can evaluate. Here's the complete list.
The list includes some of the largest data consultancies in the world, all the way down to one-person consulting firms like The Seattle Data Guy.
If you know other consultants that should be added to the list, get in touch!
But, before you start diving into research, setting up introduction calls, and scoping out your specific projects, it's important to understand how data integration consultants create value, what projects a data integration consultant can help with, and what to look for in a data integration consultant.
If you're looking for a consultant that can build and manage custom ETL pipelines on your behalf, keep reading. There might be a simpler solution! (Hint: Portable can help)
There are 3 ways a data integration consultant can help you create value from data:
1. Data analytics
2. Process automation
3. Product development
When organizing all of your data into a centralized location for better decision-making, data integrations are critical to your ETL strategy.
As business analysts uncover insights they will need, your business intelligence team will need to evaluate consultants, build in-house integrations, or consider custom connector solutions to help pull the data for data analysis.
When you want to automate manual tasks and business processes, there are scenarios where you can't find the no-code API connectors that meet your business needs.
If this happens, it can make sense to evaluate professional service solutions to identify a quick fix and get back on track with your process automation initiatives.
When you are building data products for clients, it should be easy for users to connect their data sources to your product.
If your in-house development team doesn't have the resources to build the integrations you'll need to offer a great user experience, you can consider a consultant to augment your in-house capabilities.
Regardless of the use case, you should focus on creating value for end users, not writing Python scripts, reading API documentation, and worrying about the risks of data quality and data governance that come along with scripting a custom integration.
Data integration consultants can help with:
Enterprise data architecture
Big data management
Master data management
Breaking down information silos
Real-time data processing
Machine learning and artificial intelligence
Building custom ETL connectors
To evaluate a data integration consultant you should follow these 5 steps:
1. Outline your goals
2. Write a project description or job description
3. Evaluate your options
4. Narrow down your options and check references
5. Start with a small data project
Whenever you hire a consultant or an employee, you need to understand two things:
The value they will create
How much you will need to invest in their success
Before you get started with technical requirements, writing a job description, evaluating options, or checking references, you need to understand how the consultant will create value for your business.
As discussed above, data integration consultants can create value from either:
Data analytics (better decision-making)
Process automation (removing manual workflows)
Product development (generating revenue from client adoption)
You should outline the specific projects you believe can create the most value, and whether there are any vertical-specific nuances to your specific business (healthcare, e-commerce, marketing, etc.).
Once you understand how a data integration consultant can create value, you need to understand the cost to make such an investment.
For a full-time employee, the cost is mostly the result of salary range and benefits. When evaluating a consultant, you need to understand the project costs, hourly costs, or retainer pricing model that will be required to accelerate value creation from data integration.
Now that you understand the path to value creation and the necessary investment to make progress against your goals, you need a clear description of the role and responsibilities.
This is where a job description will come in handy.
In the job description, you should outline the job title, pay range, and business requirements. You should also consider including:
Years of experience
Onsite vs. remote expectations
Relevant expertise with project management methodologies (agile, waterfall)
Technical knowledge (SQL, software development, software engineering, Unix, data engineering, information technology, etc.)
Education (if applicable - bachelor's degree, computer science, engineering boot camp, etc.)
Don't forget to check local, state, and federal laws to make sure you hire fairly and include the necessary details in your job description.
Once you understand your goals and the type of solution you are looking for, it's now time to evaluate your options.
Where should you start? Well, here is a list of 175+ data consultants.
Set up introductory meetings with as many companies as you can. Most of these firms have a 'Contact Us' form or a 'Schedule An Introductory Meeting' button where you can get in touch.
Within an hour, you can schedule 20 meetings.
If you're looking for a consultant in a specific geography, or with specific expertise, it's probably a good idea to take a look through the websites and LinkedIn profiles before scheduling time.
Better yet, you can reach out to these consulting firms with your requirements and ask for recommendations if they are not the right fit.
As you start to identify the data integration consultancies that are the best fit, make sure to get references, evaluate projects, and ask for testimonials and case studies.
External validation, certification, and social proof don't guarantee a great experience, but a lack of external validation likely means you should do some more research before signing up for a big project.
Regardless of the consultant you choose, it's always a good idea to start small.
If you can sign a month-to-month agreement, or work on an hourly or project-based model for a few weeks, it allows you to evaluate a few key things:
Is the consultant responsible?
Do you have a good working relationship with the consultant?
Is communication clear and effective?
Are the deliverables of high quality?
Over time, as you see success, you can always increase the scope of your relationship, or even decide to hire a full-time employee if the scope becomes large enough.
One of the most common ways to get started with a data integration consultant is by building a custom ETL pipeline.
If that's what you need, Portable can help.
Here's how you get started with using Portable for custom ETL.
Create your account (no credit card necessary)
Connect a data source
Authenticate your data source
Select a destination and configure your credentials
Connect your source to your analytics environment
Run your flow to start replicating data from your source to your destination
Use the dropdown menu to set your data flow to run on a cadence
One of the most common use cases for a data integration consultant is the development and maintenance of custom ETL pipelines.
While most data integration tools won't help with custom ETL pipelines, it is important to understand your options when you need a no-code integration and you can't find it.
You need to make sure you can evaluate professional services in an educated manner.
The first step is to identify the destination for your ETL pipeline.
The most common destinations for a custom ETL pipeline are:
Data warehouses (Snowflake, Google BigQuery, Amazon Redshift, Microsoft Azure Synapse)
Data lakes (Databricks, Dremio, etc.)
Relational databases (PostgreSQL, MySQL, SQL Server, Oracle, Teradata)
Whether you build your data pipelines on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), Microsoft Azure, or via technology deployed on-premises, you will need integrated data landed into a centralized environment
Once you've identified the destinations for your custom ETL pipeline, you need to find a consultant or a product (like Portable) that can connect the data sources you need.
The most common data sources for custom ETL pipelines are:
Vertical-specific software applications
Every company has new data sources that are added each day - These applications are treasure troves of data that can be used for analytics, automation, and product development.
By finding a partner that can provide a simple solution for custom data extraction, you can focus your efforts on business value instead of wrangling data from different sources and formats.
Portable is a cloud-hosted ETL tool (a product not a service). While we do not offer consulting services, we do build custom ETL integrations (point-to-point integrations) on-demand for clients as part of our product offering, for free.
We have invested years in building a platform on which we can build no-code ETL integrations for clients. As a result, we can build net new custom ETL connectors in hours or days and optimize them to your requirements.
If you're thinking about hiring a data consultant or ETL developer to help build or maintain data pipelines, let us know - we're happy to provide a second perspective.
With Portable, you'll get the same personalized experience as a consultant without paying the prices that come along with custom services.
At Portable, custom ETL is our specialty.
Portable can offer the personalized experience of a data integration consultant without the prices that come along with custom work. Portable manages the ETL process so your team can focus on insights.
Looking for a custom data integration? Get started with Portable.