Small Is Beautiful

By: Dan Vlamis
September 17, 2020
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In the construction world, bigger is often better. For large construction projects you need large-scale machinery and spend much of your time developing a blueprint for the building that must stand with no changes to the core structure potentially for generations. Analytics consulting is very different because with the right business case, even small projects can deliver great value. You must be nimble and deliver value quickly. This is where the beauty of a smaller consulting firm can shine through. In the analytics consulting world, small is beautiful.

Deliver Value Quickly

Analytics projects are often conceived as “big bang” projects, with multiple business outcomes, involving data from multiple sources. As the size of the project grows, the project timeline necessarily grows. Unfortunately, with the rapid pace of change in business these days, by the time the system is deployed, the business has changed so much that the system does not solve a current business problem. Companies reorganize. Sponsors leave. Technology changes. Projects must deliver value before shifting business conditions render the project obsolete. The key, then, is to narrow the initial scope of the project so that value can be delivered quickly before things change.

Keep Overhead to a Minimum

Have you ever seen pictures of large construction projects where half the workers are leaning on shovels, waiting for the backhoe to dig the hole? Similarly, larger analytics projects with big project teams have built-in bloat that drive up the cost of the project. As the number of people involved in a project increases, the amount of work accomplished increases arithmetically, but the number of interactions between individuals increases exponentially. It takes lots of time to organize and track lots of people. Smaller projects keep overhead to a minimum and deliver a better value to cost ratio.

Lead with Experts

With smaller project teams, everybody must be an expert in at least one area, and typically multiple areas. In a small company, everybody must fulfill a critical role and be an expert. Furthermore, there’s no place to hide in a smaller company – all are accountable for the quality of their work. So smaller teams mean less overhead and more efficiency. A smaller team of experts is naturally more efficient than a larger team where some players are still learning on the job.  

Have the Right Connections

Smaller teams must have core team members with the right connections to handle the issues that inevitably surface with a project. A niche consulting firm that specializes in the technology used for your project is much more likely to have the necessary connections with a software vendor to resolve any issues that you encounter.

Design for Growth, Scalability, and Resilience

Even while keeping the initial scope of the project to a minimum, the project should be architected for growth, scalability, and resilience. The only constant in life is change. A well-designed analytics system anticipates and accommodates unexpected changes gracefully. This is more like implementing a garden, where some plants are perfect, others need to be replaced, and some just need some pruning. With the proper plan, you can have an analytics system that can be modified as the plan is developing. You won’t be able to optimize your decisions because not enough is known at the outset of the plan. You must design with resilience so that the plan can be adjusted as the system develops and business conditions change. A small team, staffed with experts leads to an efficient design, one that is more maintainable and scalable. 

Hire a Niche Consulting Company

Niche consulting companies can deliver these smaller projects more effectively–they know how to deliver value quickly. More importantly, management is intimately aware of each and every project and must ensure the success of each project. Issues are addressed immediately because every project is important. For a niche consulting company, your project matters.  


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