Owning and operating a small business is a challenging and task-intensive affair in today’s highly competitive market. Fortunately, IT applications make many of the operational aspects much easier. With technical concepts getting more simplified and cheaper, it’s now possible even for small businesses to have customized business software and tools like online customer relationship management (CRM) and database management systems.
You do not have to be a techie to be able to master these technical concepts. As long as you have a basic knowledge of the systems you are using, you can hire a professional to do the rest of the job. Sometimes, hiring a professional becomes necessary. Database administration is one such area which requires a certain degree expertise and skills.
Many service providers are now offering small business DBA services, and it is also possible to hire an individual contractor that provides DBA services. However, there are some key points that you need to keep in mind to correctly identify an ideal small business DBA service provider.
Defining the type of database you need to handle
Do you currently have an efficient database management system in place? Are you using the right RDBMS (relational database management system) for your needs?
Are you currently able to handle a data-intensive business process with a huge volume of data? Or, do you have only a meager amount of data to handle? Are you unsure about where the data is coming from and how to retrieve it?
Several such questions will help you to determine your database administration needs. Gathering a thorough knowledge of your requirements is crucial before you go any further.
Let us dig even deeper. DBAs may fall under two primary categories such as development and production.
The development database administrator is the one who knows all about the creation and maintenance of database systems. You require the assistance of this expert from the very beginning as they know how to plan and execute the tasks to bring in results.
The production DBA usually gets added after the creation of the database to maintain and troubleshoot it. They have a good awareness of the particulars of the database servers, and they help to keep everything running smoothly. They are often in charge of the technology, service, restoration, backup and management of servers.
How to assess the knowledge of a DBA?
Do not expect every DBA to be a technical genius. No two database administrators have the same level of skill or understanding. Therefore, before hiring one, you need to interview them to assess their competence and professionalism. For this, you may have to get the answers to some specific questions.
Do they have specialized training or certification in database management? Can they help you set up a complete database system from start to finish? Can they offer ongoing maintenance and troubleshooting related services? Do they have a reliable customer support system in place?
You need to find a DBA consultant who can provide what you are asking for. Do not be satisfied with just a simple verbal commitment. You need to ensure that they sound genuine and capable of keeping their word.
For this, always check the background of the consultant. Ask to see their portfolio, technical skills, certifications, and the level of experience. Check which clients they have worked with in the past, and also try to get some genuine feedback and testimonials about the quality of the service.
Assess their creativity
There is no problem that a little creative thinking cannot solve! The same can be said about database administration. Experts need to be quick on their feet to address unforeseeable issues. Therefore, you need someone who can think out of the box and offer innovative ideas for effective data management. You may only have an overview of it with your limited knowledge, but an ideal DBA provider should be able to go beyond the limits to bring out more sustainable and profitable ideas.
Creativity, expertly paired with in-depth knowledge of databases, will let you plan new designs and methods to help your business grow exponentially. The ideal DBAs are those who find database their puzzle and know how to solve the question in better and cleverer ways.
However, creativity is hard to find by simply looking at the provider portfolio or profile. Asking out of the box questions about database skills is the most efficient way to identify how they will approach your problems. Asking the candidates a question unrelated to the database or the office environment may help you to determine their actual knowledge and comfort zone.
Know whether they can solve your problems
The biggest challenges of DBAs are errors and downtime. No matter how much knowledge a DBA possess, there are possibilities that they may go wrong based on the level of expertise they have. So, it is essential for the users to know how DBAs handle particular situations. You can start with discussing your existing problems with them to see how effectively they can come up with solutions.
If a provider shows potential for creativity and dedicated customer service as well as an excellent knowledge base for your database choice, this can be a significant step towards identifying whether they can solve your problems. Giving the DBA’s with various scenarios may help, but they may also have gaps in their learning about various technical issues. The best thing you can check is how they solved problems and did troubleshooting in the past.
In conclusion, hiring a DBA is a hard task, but you can reduce the risks with proper knowledge, insight, and baseline research. You require the capability of a “tech-savvy person” who has the service approach of a receptionist, creativity of a CEO, and technical skills of a troubleshooter to assist you.
Never compromise with the very first option you come across while searching for DBA consultants, but explore as many options as possible to gather maximum information about each and carry out a side-by-side comparison. With a little effort and dedicated time, you can surely come up with the most feasible and cost-effective long-term DBA solution to expedite your small business success.
Sujain Thomas is a DBA consultant and tech blog writer, who possesses a wealth of experience in IT development and database administration. Working with various organizations for many years, he combines the knowledge of development, coding, database connectivity, and DB management.