Compared To Other BI Developers
When you work remotely like I do, the competition is global. I have no advantage of proximity. With full consideration of that, I’ll offer this comparison of my service to that of my competitors. First, I’ll identify the five types of competitors I face. Then I’ll examine each one and compare them to what I have to offer. Here are the five types of competitors in the business intelligence space:
- Online Talent Pools
- Offshore Dev Shops
- BI Consulting Companies
- Other Solo Practitioners Like Me
Before I dive into the list, I need to clarify one thing:
I am not the best choice for every situation. I won’t try to convince every potential client to work with me because I only want to work in mutually beneficial arrangements — like habit #4 from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits Book: seek win/win.
Online Talent Pools
I listed online talent pools first because they are the ones that dominate search engine results. For example, if you search Google for “Freelance SSRS Developer” you will see at least a half-dozen of them on the first page of search results. Here are some of the companies I’m talking about:
- Up Work
- Up Stack
- People Per Hour
The advantage of these companies is they often have long lists of workers for the job description you provide. That happens to be the disadvantage — too many. You are likely to drown in the number of listings, and here are some common problems:
- workers misrepresent themselves, trying to cast a large net, bidding on jobs they should not do
- workers are very transactional to their approach, get in and out fast and collect payment — long term relationships are not being fostered
- lag in communication due to time zone differences when across continents
- many developers have poor communication skills, sometimes very, very poor
- poor communication leads to re-work and missed deadlines
- developers are poorly vetted (or not vetted at all!) by the job pool companies
The online talent pools can be a good source for you if you absolutely must pay the lowest rate, and you don’t mind managing re-work.
Off Shore Dev Shops
This is the next level up from the talent pools. There are a countless many software development companies who are seeking long-term project work and employ rooms full of coders. They are located in countries outside of the USA where the wages are extremely low, so the upfront cost appears to be low. These firms are best suited for web application development, where they can leverage code they wrote for other projects that can be re-used. Business Intelligence work is more challenging because success depends upon the quality of communication.
- extremely high turnover in their staff, your work will be handed off many times
- lag in communication due to time zone differences
- impose their management process on your work, rather than follow your process
An off shore dev shop can be a good fit for you if you are a startup with no capital. They are the cheapest, and maybe the fastest way to produce a minimum viable product.
BI Consulting Companies
Unless your work is too small for them to care, these companies will present themselves as the best option for your work. On the surface they will appear to be the best, and they will perform like that as long as your work constitutes a priority for them. They have the nicest websites, and they charge the highest rates.
- you will pay $200 or more per hour, but assign a resource who earns one-fourth of that
- they will re-assign resources to give priority to their biggest contracts
- the company claims deep experience, but the developer who does your work does not have it
- you start out in sales, and get the attention of execs to close the deal, and then you get handed off
You might be a good fit for a BI Consulting company if your need is too large for a solo consultant. If you are unsure about this, I can help you figure it out, and I’ll refer you to one of these firms if it makes sense.
Solo Freelance BI Developers
No doubt there are others like me. They are hard to find, though. You might find one from a referral, or get lucky with a web search, perhaps like you did finding me. When I owned a company that provided I.T. support we looked down on what we called the “one man shops” who “worked out of their trunks.” In that market, our potential clients had much to risk because of the nature of support. It’s urgent, and unplanned. One person could not be available for emergencies unless he was dedicated to only one customer.
In this market it’s different, though. There generally are no BI “emergencies” at least not at the level of a server or network outage. Therefore, the solo practitioner does not pose the same risk as he would in a networking/support role.
The freelance developer is not without risk (just like all the others):
- cannot always get attention from vendors when needed (i.e. calling Microsoft is pointless)
- not having a “second set of eyes” means that testing solutions requires your attention
- catastrophic events, such as getting “hit by a bus” will put you in a bad spot
You are a good fit for a freelance developer if you prefer the consistency of dealing with one person.
That provides a good review of the various types of competitors. I think the best information you can take away from this is to recall my personal objective: work in a mutually beneficial arrangement. If that aligns with your values, then it’s probably a good idea if we look into this some more. Please send me an email and I’ll try to schedule a time for us to talk about what you’re trying to achieve.