Should I hire a remote database consultant, a database consultant company, or an internal DBA?
You may not be ready for a full-time resource yet, or you may be sensitive to the cost of recruiting and retaining a person or company with such a specialized skill set. When managing a growing business, database administration will inevitably become critical to delivering for your customers. They keep your data secure, available, and scalable. This is a specialized skill set that often can’t be absorbed by your DevOps Engineer, System Administrator, or Developers.
A full-time DBA is a big commitment – they are difficult to recruit and often cost the business well over $100,000. Whether the full-time database consultant is remote, internal, or through a database consulting company, there are aspects that need to be heavily weighed to make sure that it is the right fit to move towards your enterprise goals. It’s natural to start your database management journey with a contractor or worse – an accidental DBA. There are some details to consider when thinking about bringing on an individual consultant or company to support your business-critical databases. Below are five tips to get more from your remote or internal database consultant or database consulting company.
Tip #1 – Get Clarity on Your Database Consultant’s Schedule and Availability
If you’re looking to hire a database consultant or outsource your database management entirely through a database consulting company, you’ll need to consider availability. If your data needs to be available around the clock, you’ll need someone on-call for emergencies. Be wary of DBA moonlighters who simply can’t give your mission-critical systems the attention you need during unscheduled downtime, and state all SLA tiers clearly in your contract. There is nothing worse than having an emergency with no one to put out the fire. If you don’t have enough work to keep a full-time DBA busy, but you have mission-critical databases that need monitoring, consider outsourcing the work to a database consultant company / Managed Services Provider that can provide fully managed database services to monitor those systems 24/7.
If you do hire a single database consultant, you’ll have to pay a higher hourly rate on nights, weekends, and any after-hour on-call schedule that you may require them to be on. Be prepared with a back-up plan and escalation processes in-case you can’t reach your contractor. If you have a project-based need, set clear goals and expectations for the deliverables. The skills a database consultant needs to complete more complex problems can vary widely, so ask frank and probing questions about his/her experience with similar projects. A database consulting company can also be a great solution in providing you with 24/7 support and access to a pool of qualified database administration resources. With many database consulting companies providing next-generation managed services, you’ll not only have the resources to manage your databases, but there will also be support and options to optimize those databases and move your enterprise forward.
Tip #2 – Build a Concise Communication Plan That Includes the External Database Resources
When it comes to hiring multiple remote workers, managing the team is key. Your team is only as healthy as how well it communicates together, and it can become strained in a remote situation due to the lack of proximity. Consider equipping your management team with the tools they need to foster great communication and consistent team building.
Loop your database consultants into your IT meetings (yes, you’ll have to eat the per-hour cost of them attending but it’s worth it), and consider holding video calls rather than just voice to bring visual connection across locations. Creating an atmosphere like this will facilitate strategic buy-in and accountability from your remote database consultants as they get to know other members of the team. If you are hiring a database consulting company, this may require including your Account Manager or Project Manager (if not outsourcing this resource as well) to ensure that the external team has an overall understanding of your enterprise database needs.
Tip #3 – Hire for Urgency
Hiring DBA contractors or a company for database managed services can be immensely helpful when it comes to tight deadlines and periods of explosive growth for your business. Whether you have unexpected project work or a gap in your technical capabilities, the extra help that a database consultant provides is key to reducing overall team stress and burnout. Consider these three things to help the transition go well.
- Allocate time for the learning curve. If you’re contracting someone for the first time, make sure to allot yourself the time needed to bring him or her up to speed. There is nothing more frustrating than having to backtrack due to miscommunication
- Create an onboarding process. If you need to hire quickly, a process fine-tuned for vetting potential contractors and companies is a good way to avoid the cost of hires that can’t complete the work you need them to.
- Build a DBA contractor list. If you want to further minimize your hiring process, build a list of vetted options when it comes to your overall data platform needs. Include consulting companies and teams in this list for larger projects as well. Categorize your list of contractors based on capability and be aware that contractors will change jobs and move around during their careers. Which brings us to our next point: Hiring subject matter experts (SMEs)
Tip #4 – Look to Increase Your Team’s Capabilities
Hiring an SME (System Management Entity) is a great way to avoid pitfalls when your team takes on a new project. The Data Platform has become a vast industry of technical expertise. During your digital transformation, you may need everything from cloud architecture to disaster recovery and back up. So when seeking to hire an SME, make sure that the resource offers the services that you need today and in the long run.
SMEs specialize in one area of the data platform and should have helped organizations similar to yours complete the major projects you’re facing. That experience keeps you on track and brings peace of mind to the process. Trade the anxiety of hiring a generalist for the peace of mind a subject matter expert provides. SMEs can be difficult to find. Database managed service and database professional service / consulting service companies typically have multiple skill-sets on-demand if time and scope are an issue.
Tip #5 – Consider Your Options on Whether an Individual Database Consultant or Database Consulting Company is Right for You
Hiring a solo independent contractor can be great for short-term and smaller projects. If you want to save time and lessen your “management burden,” you may also want to consider hiring a database consulting company that offers multiple and comprehensive services such as:
- 24×7 Proactive Monitoring and Support
- Multiple SMEs
- Dedicated Client Engagement and Project Managers
Outsourcing your database management can be an efficient, money-saving option for a growing business making a database consultant a commodity that will help you to grow. However, it’s important to weigh the risks of engaging a contractor with the cost of hiring a full-time employee. If you need to better increase your data’s availability, expand your system’s scalability, all while building your team’s capabilities, consider Fortified Data’s Core Health