Should I hire a data consultancy or a data freelancer?

2024-01-08

In the modern business, data has become the cornerstone of informed decision-making, innovation, and sustained growth. Senior level executives, as the leaders of their¬†organisations, bear the responsibility of steering the ship in the right direction. As the digital landscape evolves, it’s crucial for these decision-makers to accept that hiring data consultants, at least at some stage, is no longer a choice but a strategic imperative.¬†

If you are not yet convinced about the benefits of having an external consultant(s) you may want to have a look at another blog post where we highlight some benefits of working with data consultancy. If you already decided that external support would be beneficial for your organisation, there is another decision to be made: should you hire a consultancy or an individual freelancer.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the pros and cons of engaging a data consultancy versus a freelance data consultant.

1. Price efficiency

First and foremost, let’s address the elephant in the room – cost. There is a common belief that consultancy companies are expensive and that hiring a freelancer would be more budget-friendly. There are anecdotal stories about overinflated bills issued by some well-known big consultancy companies. However, that’s not always the case. And if you decide for a consultancy you don’t have to work with one of the Big-4 or other major players. Especially in technical fields, like data engineering and analytics, there are specialised companies delivering high quality services at reasonable prices. At the end there is no good economical justification, why the same service would be more expensive when ordered from a specialised company rather than from an individual.

It is the quality which makes a difference, though. When you engage a data consultancy, you in fact get a team of experts for the same price as a single data freelancer. This means that you’re essentially paying for more brainpower and skills for a similar rate. It makes the consultancy option a more cost-effective choice in the long run.

2. Teams for large projects

If your project requires a considerable workforce and a fast turnaround time, a data consultancy is the way to go. Having a team of experts working collaboratively under one roof ensures that the project is completed efficiently and quickly. Moreover, consultancies are well-equipped to handle large-scale projects with ease, making them the ideal choice for comprehensive, multifaceted tasks. On the other hand, data freelancers may be better suited for small gigs or specific, specialized tasks.

It is quite common to try to staff larger projects with several freelancers, hired individually, often through different agencies. You may even get top-notch experts that way, but a group of experts does not yet make a team. The burden of making a smoothly working team out of them is entirely on you. It requires time and continuous effort. A trusted consultancy should be able to provide you with a working team at the day one. They take care of the team management, as well.

3. Service continuity

One of the most significant advantages of choosing a data consultancy is the peace of mind it offers when it comes to project continuity. In the event a consultant has to leave the project, the consultancy can seamlessly provide a replacement team member, ensuring that the workflow remains uninterrupted. Coming from the same consultancy, the organization can also be ensured that the team has the synergy to communicate and deliver. This is in stark contrast to the freelancer scenario, where the departure of the sole worker could lead to project delays or, worse, a complete restart.

4. Flexibility to scale

Organizations often find themselves in situations where they’re unsure about the project’s future scope or their budget constraints. Data consultancies offer unmatched flexibility. They can easily scale up or down based on your project’s evolving needs. Whether you need to deploy additional resources to expedite the project or cut back to stay within budget, good consultancies can adapt accordingly. Data freelancers, in contrast, have limited capacity to scale, as they typically work alone. If you were to engage multiple freelancers to work on the same project, it might also not guarantee a seamless collaboration due to possible differences in working styles.

5. Expertise and range of services

Data-related services is a vast field, and projects often demand a diverse skill set. Data consultancies typically boast a diverse team of experts across various domains, offering a broad spectrum of services. This means you can access a wide range of expertise from a single source. Freelancers, on the other hand, often excel in specialized areas and focus on providing expertise in specific skills or services. There are “jack of all trades” data freelancers with very broad experience. They are the expensive ones. Even then they may not have a very deep expertise in all the topics. Others may be top-notch experts in their chosen field, but they might not have the breadth of knowledge that a consultancy can provide.

In fact, in most cases, a good data consultancy should be able to do what a freelancer would do, at comparable prices, often with better quality and with reduced business risk. There are, however, some experts who prefer to work on their own – if you need their specific expertise, hiring a freelancer is the only option.