Sometimes the need for a Microsoft SQL Server consultant seems to sneak up on you. Your database responsiveness and availability appear to be okay. Then, somewhere in the organization, someone deploys a new database alongside a new application. All of a sudden, you’re having performance and/or reliability issues.

What just happened and how do we fix it? That’s the kind of question an expert SQL Server consultant answers every day. If you need database guidance, here are 5 steps to finding the right SQL Server consultant:

One: Evaluate your database needs

Yes, you’re hiring a database expert to help assess and validate your current and future needs. But you need to do some fact-finding before you choose a consultant.

Start with a list of your pain points and a description of your desired future state. Quantify your hoped-for outcomes as much as possible.

Drilling down into your pain points as far as your expertise permits will both identify core issues and help your SQL Server consultant solve them faster. You might even discover that you really need a network expert or a storage expert, not a database expert. 

Two: Match your needs with consultant offerings

To pick the right SQL Server consultant from among many available options, start with basic questions, like:

  • Are they recommended by one or more peers?
  • Do they have current reference clients in your industry?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Do they have the right expertise on tap? 
  • Are they local to you and able to work on-site if needed?
  • Are they a good match for your business size-wise? 
  • Do their rates fit your budget?
  • Do they have solid Microsoft credentials?

Keep in mind also that your needs will change. You may want a SQL Server consultant that is “a partner not a vendor”—one you can trust to cover any database problem you’re likely to have. 

Three: Talk to the firms on your short list

Most reputable SQL Server consultants offer a free introductory call to talk over your unique challenges and goals. This is a great way to compare ideas and advice, while identifying the consultants you click with. Be ready to discuss the problems you’re having with your database environment, plans for moving workloads to the cloud, compliance concerns, security questions, and so on. 

Do the people you’re talking to sound knowledgeable and confident? Do they ask good questions? Do their initial recommendations make sense? Are they “good listeners” who are motivated to work with you? Or do they sound like they just want to close a deal?

Four: Hire the winner for an assessment or point project

If you have time and/or want to minimize business risk, hire your top pick to perform a database health check, compliance assessment, or security evaluation. These assessment projects will give you critical information about your environment, while providing an accurate indication on whether this SQL Server consultant is right for your business. 

If you’re pleased with the results, you’ve got a winner! If not, at least you learned a lot. Go back to your short list and ask the top contenders a few more questions. 

Five: Write a win-win contract

A win-win contract is one that both parties can live with, which defines unambiguously both parties’ responsibilities so there is always clarity when questions arise. Weak contracts can create financial risk on both sides of the table and can lead to damaged business relationships and lawsuits.

Most contracts with an SQL Server consulting partner should describe (if applicable) the scope of work to be performed, agreed deliverables, project timelines, agreed compensation and fee structures, special equipment or other resource needs, etc. Some contracts also include termination clauses that describe stipulations for ending the contract.

Most consultants will also need to sign a confidentiality agreement to protect your intellectual property and other sensitive data.

What’s next?

With so many possibilities, choosing the right SQL Server consultant can seem bewildering. 

At Buda Consulting, we’re small enough to really know your business, but have the expertise to handle whatever comes up with your SQL Server database environment. From a health check to a cloud migration, we can provide the planning, maintenance, optimization, and specialized skills you need to take your data’s business value to the next level. We’re located in central New Jersey and serve companies of all sizes across the US.

Contact us to schedule a free call with a SQL Server specialist.