If you’re considering hiring a full time Power BI developer or need a part time contractor to jumpstart your business intelligence initiatives, these tips will help you find quality candidates that are easy to work with and will get the job done quickly and efficiently to keep your costs down.
Hiring someone to help build out Power BI reports and dashboards can be more difficult than you would expect. Everybody promises to provide amazing results in record time at an incredible range of price points.
The following tips will help you hire someone that’s capable and can deliver results while keeping costs reasonable.
Let’s jump in!
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The High Cost of Low Experience
Expensive consultants don’t always equate to top-notch service. Often, the less experienced developers can be the priciest because they take longer to accomplish tasks due to their lack of experience. This can result in high costs, budget overruns, and a final product that falls short of expectations.
To avoid this common pitfall, carefully assess the experience level of your candidates and ask for references, and work samples prior to engaging them to complete a project.
Infrastructure Readiness Saves Time and Money
Having your IT infrastructure ready for Power BI deployment is a critical cost-saving measure. Ensure your IT team has live data connections, Power BI Gateways, and connections to cloud services prepared in advance.
This foresight prevents costly delays and lets your developer focus on what they do best, creating dashboards that can generate insights and eliminate manual reporting processes.
Contract developers or consultants can help you build reports, but it’s very difficult for them to guide you through how to connect to enterprise specific data warehouses, accounting, and ERP systems. Some consultants will recommend starting with Excel files which can jumpstart report development but can add significant additional cost later on when converting them to live connections.
Similar Time Zones Make Communication Easier
Consider the geographical location of your Power BI consultant. Contractors in the same or similar time zone can offer smoother communication and quicker iterations, which is essential for agile development and avoiding the pitfalls of time-consuming miscommunications.
Business Intelligence dashboards are visual in nature. By joining on a quick Teams or Zoom call you can talk through what’s working and what isn’t. There’s a lot of feedback that goes into a report because each business is unique and a developer will not necessarily know what are the most important KPIs and metrics for your organization.
Regular Check-Ins Keep Projects on Track
Establish a schedule for regular check-ins to avoid the “waterfall” trap, where the project’s direction is decided at the start and left unchanged until completion. Regular communication ensures that the project adapts to your evolving needs and enables you to provide feedback at crucial development stages.
Even if you’re hiring an external developer to save time, it will not be a 100% hands off exercise. External consultants need guidance and regular updates on changes that are needed. If it’s a longer term project, plan to front load a project with regular meetings and feedback will not be as necessary later on.
Complexity Isn’t Always Key with Power BI Developers
Be cautious of developers who over-engineer solutions with overly complex DAX formula. If you have someone on staff with Power BI knowledge, they can help assess whether or not the style of a report is going to be a good fit.
Consider the future maintenance of your Power BI deployment. Ensure that whoever you hire can build reports that can be easily managed by your team or future developers.
Complexity is not always avoidable and will depend on your specific data and reporting needs but try and look for developers who aim for simplicity and maintainability in their solutions.
Freelance Platforms: A Caveat on Ratings
Freelance platforms like Upwork and Fiverr offer a wide pool of candidates, but their rating systems can be deceptive. A developer may have high marks for soft skills but lack critical Power BI expertise. When the scores are aggregated, they may have a 4 out of 5-star rating but have no clue what they’re doing on a technical perspective.
Look beyond the star rating to their specific technical feedback.
Depending on the platform, you can also get spammed with hundreds of candidates applying for your job regardless of whether they are remotely qualified, and within your budget or not. It’s one of our biggest frustrations with hiring a freelancer and something you should be aware of. It takes an investment of time to find and interview quality candidates.
Evaluate Local Power BI and Consulting Firms
Before jumping into freelance platforms, call around or ask other business leaders in your area for referrals. Local developers may have a stronger commitment to maintaining their reputation within a community and be a better basis for an ongoing working relationship.
The prices of local developers may even be in line or less expensive than many of the services offered through online platforms.
The Visual Appeal vs. Functionality Balance
Consider the balance between the visual appeal and functional utility of your Power BI reports and dashboards. High-end custom visuals can be costly; decide if they’re worth the investment. Sometimes your needs are best met with more straightforward, functional designs.
There are times where we also recommend spending less time on making reports look good and spending more time building out more reports. An unfortunate truth about business intelligence reporting is that many reports go unused and under-utilized.
Business also change over time and so do reporting needs. It’s difficult to justify the cost of making a top notch report when you don’t know if anybody will actually utilize it.
Estimating Power BI Development Timelines
Be aware that Power BI development is not just about the tool but also about understanding the unique challenges of your business. It can take a developer significant amount of time to learn your company, industry, systems, and data model.
At times it can take more time to figure out what a report is trying to do, and what is important to the business than it takes to actually put visuals on a page and publish a report. This aspect makes it incredibly difficult to estimate an exact timeline or budget to complete reports.
Good developers will ask lots of questions during the scoping process. You can also help by having a good idea of what you want to see. Look at examples of dashboards from other websites and sketch out rough drafts of reports in tools like Excel, PowerPoint or sheet of paper to give developers a quick start.
Temps Can be Less Expensive for Long Term Projects
Because of the intricacies involved in each business and understanding data it can make sense to hire fewer developers for longer periods of time. Contract Temps will often work for 3 to 6 months at a lower rate than what you would be able to hire short term contractors or developers for.
If you can find people willing to work for a full 40 hours a week they should also be focused only on your organization for that time period where as other consultants could be more distracted and less efficient by flipping between clients throughout the day.
Even if you hire a short-term contract developer, make sure to ask them about their current workload and get an understanding of how dedicated they will be to your project. Then try to align their availability with your availability to ensure you have enough of a pipeline to keep them going.
Professional Power BI Developers can help you implement and complete reporting projects faster than if existing employees have to learn an entirely new software package, and they can help with surges in reporting demands to get your company off to a quick start.
Just like there’s a wide range of people in any job role, there is a wide range of Power BI developers and ways to hire them. They come with all kinds of different price points and skill levels. By asking lots of questions, interviewing them, getting work samples, and references you can help mitigate the risk of spending money on a bad hire.
Plan ahead and make sure that when you do bring someone on the infrastructure is ready and there is a pipeline of well defined projects that they can start working on right away. Also ensure that you have the time and capacity to guide them as they’re learning your organization and the products they are building match your specifications.