Finding the Right Data Resource: Asking the Important Questions

data resources

A quick guide to securing the right data resource


Securing the right resource to help you make the case for data or help you with the tasks associated with showing value can be a daunting task.  Here’s a quick guide to:

  • The deliverables you might need
  • The kinds of resources available for each
  • Key questions you might ask to ensure you’ve got the right team

When establishing a data management program, you will have various requirements throughout the process.  Take a look at these key deliverables:

  • Data strategy for the entire program designed to give you a roadmap for where you would like to be when your program is complete
  • Data audit to assess baseline data situation and describe tasks to fill in the gaps from where you are to where you want to be
  • Data pilot to prove capability and use of data.  This deliverable is usually part of an analytics or business intelligence project
  • Ongoing maintenance of your data

Various types of resources are available to help you with these tasks and many more. 

Here are just a few types of resources with some key questions to ask each when engaging them:

I.  Consulting firm specializing in strategy development. 

Management consulting firms recognize the need to have a solid strategy for data management and usage as part of the overall company strategy.  Many consulting firms have areas of expertise that can easily provide you with a data strategy that supports your company’s overall goals. Here are some key questions to ask consulting firms when approaching them to help you:

  1. What expertise do they have in developing data strategies for firms?
  2. Who on their team is qualified for this assignment?
  3. How do they approach building a strategy? 
  4. What is their overall philosophy about helping to implement a strategy once delivered? 

II.  Independent consultant.

Independent consultants are those individuals who have an expertise and are not associated with a larger consulting firm.  The best of these consultants have developed an expertise specific to data and specific to your industry.  Here are some questions you need to have answered:

  1. Why is this consultant considered an expert in your field?
  2. What kinds of work has he/she done that is verifiable?
  3. What do those who have used his/her services say about the engagement? 
  4. What in the consultant’s background can be helpful to your situation?

III.  Database vendor.

Engaging a database vendor may mean selecting a database or a marketing automation tool that is specific to your environment.  This part of the industry has exploded in the last few years and is highly competitive.  Some of the more successful database applications used in the marketing environment have been gobbled up by larger computing or software firms as they discovered the need to put data at the center of their marketing operations landscape.  Key questions to ask:

  1.  What kinds of database audits have you done previously for companies in my industry or size?
  2. What services do you offer for helping with designing the overall database environment?
  3. What references do you have in my industry or with my size company? 
  4. How is your offering implemented?  On premise?  In the cloud?

IV.  Database marketing consulting firm.

There are firms that specialize in database marketing that can be engaged to help you with everything from strategy through to implementation.  In fact, some of the firms today act as hosted environments for all of your marketing data and because of this are often confused with database vendors.  Here are few questions you should be prepared to ask this type vendor:

  1. How does your service differ from a totally outsourced capability?
  2. In what areas of database marketing do you specialize – sales to marketing connections, marketing web, lead generation, etc.
  3. Who would be responsible for my installation?
  4. What references do you have within my industry?  With my size company?

Next- Resources and questions V  and VI


About the author

Theresa Kushner

Theresa Kushner is a journalist-turned-marketer and currently Executive Vice President at Dell leading their state of the art nalytics initiative. Formerly she was Vice President of Enterprise Information Management at VMware responsible for master data management, business intelligence and advanced analytics.  She and Maria Villar co-write a column for They are co-authors of Managing Your Business Data: From Chaos to Confidence, published by Racom Books in 2008.