When outside help is needed for your next InfoSphere project…

May 17th, 2012 by Stan Duda

Once the decision is made that outside help will be needed for your InfoSphere project, the next step is to search for and evaluate potential consulting partners for your project.  A capable InfoSphere consultant will have the ability to develop data models, audit data quality, analyze and evaluate your needs and requirements, your architecture, your design, and have a solid technical and functional grasp on your particular platform (DataStage, QualityStage, etc.). They will also need to have a deep understanding of DW solutions and architectures, and ETL processes such as data mapping, data profiling, data marts, staging areas, and ETL audit trails.
How do you evaluate a potential new partner for your InfoSphere project?  When evaluating consultants for your next project, including development and migration projects, there are some obvious criteria that can easily be validated and assessed, and some criteria that will require a little more effort, and “intuitive evaluation.”
Some of the obvious criteria for your potential InfoSphere partner that can be quickly validated and “checked off the list” include:
  •  How many years has the partner been working with your platform (DataStage, QualityStage, etc.)?
  •  How many projects has the partner completed on your platform?
  •  The amount of experience the consultant(s) have who will be working on the project?
  •  Are the consultants certified for your platform?
  • What problems has the consultant encountered with the new version of InfoSphere software or the process of migrating to this version, and how have they addressed these problems?  (their answer to this question will provide you with a lot of insight into their experience)
  •  What experience does the consultant have with the data sources and systems that are integrated with your platform?
  •  Of course, references – preferably organizations who have used the partner for similar projects – will need to be validated.
Criteria that is more challenging to qualify and evaluate are things such as:
  •  Is the prospective consultant capable of quickly adapting to new challenges and “thinking on their feet?”
  •  Is the prospect capable of “thinking outside the box,” or how creative is he when facing unusual problems?
  •  How quickly will the consultant become acclimated to the new environment and team?
  •  How well will the consultant work with your colleagues and management team?
An effective way to evaluate these type of traits is to do some work with the consultant prior to making a formal decision and signing a SOW.  This can be done arranging a conference call or two to discuss your project requirements and anticipated challenges and openly discussing how the project and challenges will be addressed by the consultant.  A couple of brainstorming sessions like this will provide you with a good “feel” for the consultants style and capabilities.  Also, a sampling of your data could be sent to the consultant for his/her evaluation and their recommended initial steps for the project based on the assessment of this data.  While the expectation should not be hours of free advice in this step, a solid InfoSphere partner who has not worked with you in the past should be open to this type of interaction.  If not, you may want to consider other partners.
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