Contractor v Consultant - The 5 Considerations

Article by Tania Armstrong | Published on June 28, 2017

Working in Business Intelligence (BI) means I often get asked a lot of questions like: What does BI stand for? What is Big Data? And my favourite: Why would I use a Business Intelligence (BI) consultant instead of a BI contractor? Good question!

Before you start shaping up a BI project in your business, I believe there are FIVE things you should consider when making a decision to use a BI consultant or a contractor.

1.  It’s your IP 

The data, information and the insights you generate from BI are your business' competitive advantage. It’s your Intellectual Property and your greatest asset! Therefore, your data needs to be treated like the asset it is. This means utilising best practice all the way through the process, right down to the disciplines of version control and the rigors of providing hand over documents. If you are using a contractor, there is a risk that when they leave the organisation (or win lotto - please see 5), they leave with your IP in their heads.

 2.  Problem Solving

As a company of consultants - we are greater than the sum of our parts. Not only is there an onus on us to look after your data asset, which we actively share with you. We also tap into the wider brain power in our company to ensure we have the best approach. This means sense-checking, peer-reviewing and problem solving as a unit. This is a core part of our unique process that makes DATAMetrics a unique and insightful company to work for and with. This collaboration is something that every-day contractors simply cannot do. A team of one is not a team.

 3.  References

When you considering hiring anyone, good, solid references are key. We are South Island based and our greatest references are our current customers. If you want to know the measure of value any person or company can bring to your business, ask them for their most current customers and go have a chat. Like a two year old reference on a CV or case study from 2013 on a website - not all references are created equal!

 4.  Training is Key

BI is a rapidly evolving discipline, with off-shoots that will only become more pronounced as the industry continues to develop. Staying up to date is critical. Taking time off to attend a course can bite into valuable client facing time when you’re a contractor. Sometimes it’s hard to say no to paying work to invest in updating your skill set. But at DATAMetrics we invest heavily in training. Each member has a fund to use on training courses that will directly benefit our customers. This enriches our engagements because you know that as individuals and as a wider team, we can deal with any of the complexities you might have. We also help build our client’s teams up by providing formal courses in conjunctions with our US training partner. We deliver these as public courses, through mentoring and coaching engaging or as in-house training tailored to the needs of the business.

 5.  Value Added Partners

As a BI solutions company, we are in the fortunate position to add value to everything we do. This means using TWO technical leads on most of work. In other words, if Rob wins lotto (and he’s trying to, believe me!) then jumps on a plane to Tuscany to attend the Mugello motor bike race, we’ll still carry on delivering! It also doesn't hurt to have a second pair of eyes and ears on your project either. Basically, if means that if there’s a problem, there TWO people who know what to do and can deal with the problem - straight away.

(And for the record, we don’t charge for this second person. This is our investment into our customer’s projects and we’ve been doing this since our inception. Contractors can't do this – it’s not part of their business model.)

 But, I hear you cry, don't consultants cost 10 times more than a contractor?

Yes and no. Yes, some are cheaper. But the decision to choose a BI Consultant over a BI Contractor all comes down to what you are trying to achieve; one expert, or a team of experts? A team delivery may be outsourced to a company like ours, or it might be a mixture of internal team members, external contractors and consultants. Putting together the right mix for the best outcomes is absolutely critical and it’s going to come down to expertise, skill set and trust.


Tania is the Client Relationship Manager and a Director of DATAMetrics Business Intelligence and Data Solutions. She has worked extensively with corporates and large businesses in Australia, UK and New Zealand. A self-professed data evangelist, Tania specialises in building relationships while she builds businesses.