Choosing a data solutions agency is a challenging decision for your business.
With so many technologies that can connect your data sources to internal platforms, your due diligence in choosing a data solutions partner can be a long and arduous process.
Today we discuss how to choose a data solutions agency and what factors to look for to give your data projects the best possible chance for success.
In A Hurry?
- A Data Solutions Agency provides data solutions for the architecture, engineering, warehousing, and visualization of data.
- There are many standards and compliance factors to meet when working with customer data.
- Before a project is launched, most agencies will provide a Statement of Work that outlines each stage of work in the project.
- A Proof of Concept is a smaller project that proves the knowledge, ability, and communication of a data solutions agency.
What Is A Data Solutions Agency?
A data solutions agency is a business that provides data architecture, warehousing, engineering, and visualization.
They may also provide data integration and can build front-end dashboards for data visualization.
Data solutions and consulting can range from:
- DaaS (Data as a Service)
- Data engineering
- Data architecture
- Database management
- Database optimization
- Data pipeline integrations
- Front-end design
- Back-end development
- QA (quality assurance)
The core function of a Data Solutions Agency is their work with data architecture and engineering.
Many start-ups tend to use a single database technology and as they grow, they run into scalability issues.
A Data Solutions Agency will help the business decouple these “tangled” services which free up application bandwidth and prevent future bottlenecks.
Your data sources can range from Facebook or Google ads, email autoresponders like Mailchimp, transaction data from POS (point of sale) kiosks, or support tools like ZenDesk.
Management and integration of these systems into a centralized platform is usually best left to experts rather than in-house or homegrown solutions.
How To Choose A Data Solutions Agency
Below we will outline the most important factors to look at when choosing the right data solutions agency.
Understanding your critical business needs is the first step in choosing the right Data Solutions Agency.
There are several factors to consider in regards to timing that you should keep in mind:
- The timeframe to implement these new data solutions?
- When is the right time to implement a new data solution into your existing business processes?
- How fast can the data agency integrate your data sources or formulate a plan for new sources?
- Will your business suffer any downtime while your data sources are integrated with new solutions?
- Will migrating from your existing solution to the new solution require the loss of revenue in the short-term?
These are the critical questions you must answer before selecting the right Data Solutions Agency.
Most agencies will be familiar with the migration and implementation process and should be able to answer these questions after they have scoped your project.
When searching for a data solutions agency, it is vital to understand the underlying standards that relate to your data, and specifically your customer data.
Standards like SOC I and II deal specifically with businesses that store customer data like names, email addresses, phone numbers, and credit card information.
If you are a business operating in the EU (European Union) or have customers that are in the EU, you may fall under the GDPR standard.
GDPR is short for General Data Protection Regulation and related to the storage of personal information of customer data.
If your business falls under the GDPR requirements, you will need a data solutions provider that understands the complexities of GDPR so that you are not in breach of this mandate.
Failure to account for such standards could mean big trouble down the road in terms of fines and legal risk.
In the fast-paced world of technology, a solution that provided adequate results three years ago may soon become antiquated and no longer suitable for your business.
A competent data solutions agency will understand the rapid pace at which technology and regulations change and provide a “roadmap” in anticipation of future changes.
The agency should stay up-to-date on the latest data trends and provide you with a thorough roadmap to help you navigate data management changes for the foreseeable future.
Failing to plan for the future means your business may lose revenue, be locked into disparate technologies, or cost you more money down the road.
Make sure the data solution provider you choose has a plan to account for these changes that are inevitable to occur.
Keeping data secure is a crucial component of choosing a data solutions agency.
Most businesses that collect customer data to analyze trends and make business decisions have a data classification scheme that defines the data collected and where that data resides.
The ability to protect the data when it is in the data pipeline and stored for archival purposes is something that the agency will help solidify.
Any data loss or breach of data could have profound negative consequences on your business.
Even small and medium-sized businesses must account for the data that they store.
A data solutions agency will understand how data is collected and stored while providing the best recommendations for data security operations and procedures.
Data solutions contracts can be complicated and overwhelming.
Many technical components must be addressed when hiring a data solutions agency.
The ability to articulate each section of the agreement without overcomplicating things is a virtue of a trustworthy data solutions provider.
Data solutions projects typically begin with a scoping document called a Statement of Work.
The Statement of Work will outline every detail of the type of work that the agency will do.
It will drill down and specify what is needed from your business to complete each step.
Some engagements begin with a POC (Proof of Concept) in which a smaller project is done first to prove the quality of work that the agency will do.
Upon successful completion of the POC, the business will hire the agency for a much larger project.
The POC is a way to show the abilities of the agency without overcommitting to a massive project.
It is an excellent way for the agency to prove it’s knowledge of data management and give the business an idea of how they will communicate and meet deadlines on a more extensive engagement.
Reliability and Accuracy
Having a reliable data solutions partner is a vital component of your decision.
The data solutions agency you choose should be reliable and should also earn your trust through honest and transparent communication.
When evaluating a potential partner, it is common to speak to their previous customers to get an idea of the type of work they do.
- How do they communicate?
- Do they deliver on what they promise?
- Were there any issues due to incompetency or lack of knowledge in a given field?
- Will they provide accurate results?
It is crucial for a potential data solutions agency to answer these questions before embarking on any paid project.
Data migration is quite common when integrating your data sources into a single business dashboard.
Some businesses rely on disparate or outdated data models that are losing them revenue opportunities.
The data solutions agency you choose should be proficient at data migration and provide adequate proof that their proposed solutions will work.
Business Health and Company Profile
When evaluating a data solutions partner, you will want to evaluate such factors as:
How good is the business from a revenue perspective?
How long have they been doing engagements similar to yours?
What happens when engagement goes sideways?
Who are the business principles, and what are their track records?
Other items to look at are case studies, success stories, customer on-boarding, and customer success management.
The Data Solutions Agency you choose should have strong relationships with the technologies they recommend and work with.
They should be up to date with their preferred database partners’ products and/or services while maintaining objectivity and honesty to you, the end customer.
The best Agencies will form partnerships with key vendors and commit themselves to learn and master their technologies.
Like certifications and standards, you will want to evaluate how the potential data solutions agency will keep you and your data in compliance with local, state, and national laws.
Failing to keep you in compliance with these levels of laws could mean fines and possible legal actions for your business.
How will the agency keep you in compliance?
What measures does the agency take to stay up to date on data compliance best practices?
If you fall out of compliance, what will the agency do to remedy the situation so that you are back in accordance?
These are the types of questions you want to ask during your due diligence in choosing the best data solutions agency for your project.
Cost is a huge factor when choosing the best data solutions agency to work with.
Cost should not be the sole factor, as the adage “you get what you pay for” holds especially true for data solutions engagement.
The most expensive quote is not always the best option, just as a low-cost solution is not the worst solution.
When taking all factors into account, your project’s cost should ensure that the ROI (return on investment) is clearly articulated and delivered upon.
Best Data Solutions Agency Conclusion
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best data solutions agency for your business.
Each consideration is a piece of a puzzle that forms your overall success plan.
At Data Sleek, we take great care to answer all of your questions during the evaluation process.
We have worked on many engagements in various industries and have developed a process that includes a custom Statement of Work for your project.
We have previous customers that would love to share their success with you.
Our customer philosophy is when you win, we win.
We will take great care to communicate our work, and it’s related benefits to your bottom line revenue goals.
We look forward to talking more about your project and the types of solutions we can provide.
If you have a data solution project in mind, feel free to navigate to our “Contact Us” to tell us more about what you need.