Best place to find SQL Server Consultants

  • Where would be the best place to find really decent SQL Server consultants: I am stuck between those freelancer websites that seem to be filled with really low quality SQL consultants (there are amazing ones there too but a drop in a bucket), and looking at sql consulting shops that have the most amazing talents but cost a fortune! (200+/hr). Is there a balanced place?

  • If you need a good SQL consultant and are willing to do so "off hours" for the Eastern Time Zone of the USA, then I'm available at a much more reasonable rate.   Send me a private message.

    Steve?(aka sgmunson)?:) 🙂 :)?
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  • My opinion - it is tricky to find good ones, but not impossible.  Find some reputable people in the SQL World and ask them like you did on this forum.

    As far as I know, there is no "balanced place" or even a centralized location to find SQL Server consultants.  On top of finding a good consultant, it depends on what help you need.  Some are really good at performance tuning, but not quite as good at BI.  If you have a DBA on site (or an aspiring DBA), it may not hurt to invest in training as well as the consultant so your on-site DBA's can help in the future as well.

    My approach is to reach out to some of the DBA's I know personally and get their opinions on consultants.  I know a few who do consulting, but do not know their rates as I've not needed a consultant to come in (yet).  It also depends on if they can do remote work or if you need them on-site and if they need to travel and potentially cross borders.

  • Thank you for both of your answers.

    To provide a bit more context: I am looking at someone who is an absolute expert in data modelling creating very efficient and elegant designs, very strong SQL programming, and superior ability in SSIS. Assumption is that the person has some fundamental knowledge of DBA tasks and solutions. The person doesn't need to be an experienced DBA but knowing the fundamentals is a must.

    I know this is not easy to find, but also (either in the same person or another) someone who has superior DAX Modelling experience.

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Mysterio.
  • that really is normally task for 3 individuals - good luck finding someone that can fill all of them.

  • frederico_fonseca wrote:

    that really is normally task for 3 individuals - good luck finding someone that can fill all of them.

    I'd throw my hat into the ring, if it weren't for this pesky full-time job getting in the way 🙂

    If the answer to your question can be found with a brief Google search, please perform the search yourself, rather than expecting one of the SSC members to do it for you.
    See https://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/forum-etiquette-how-to-post-datacode-on-a-forum-to-get-the-best-help/ for details of how to post T-SQL code-related questions.

  • I think I understand why the consultants you found were costing $200/hour... that is a high list of demands for the consultant.  I think if you want someone who is GOOD at all of that, you are going to have a tough time.  I agree with Frederico_Fonseca in that it sounds like the work of more than one person.

    Think of it like remodelling your bathroom.  You wouldn't hire 1 person to do all of the work as finding a plumber who is also good at painting and is a certified electrician would be difficult and expensive.  My opinion, you should reduce the workload to data modeling OR SQL programming OR BI (SSIS/SSRS), not all 3 in one person.  If you NEED it to be one person, I would expect this to be a long contract...

    Someone who I'd consider to have "very strong SQL programming" skills, likely isn't going to be "an expert in data modelling".  Those are 2 completely different skill sets.  And then you are throwing BI into that mix and SSIS/SSRS is a completely different beast that SQL programming or data modelling.

    One of the reasons a single consultant will be tricky for this is that most consultants are highly specialized.  To me, it sounds like you will need either multiple consultants or possibly a full time employee or 2.  The advantage of having someone on full time is that the knowledge of your company that they learn from the data modelling and programming may help with the BI.

    My opinion though - finding someone who is willing to do what you are asking for $200/hour does not sound unreasonable to me; it actually sounds a bit cheaper than I'd expect.  I would do it for less, but I also know that I am not "an absolute expert in data modelling", nor would I say I am "very strong at SQL programming", or have "superior ability in both SSIS and SSRS".  Am I good at those things?  Sure.  I do them most of the day at my job.  But I would not say I am an "absolute expert" or that I have "superior ability".  Of all of the SQL experts (consultants and otherwise) that I know, I am not sure i even know one who would fit your requirements.

    Just my 2 cents...

  • Actually, I made a mistake - I didn't mean to include SSRS. That was my bad.

    I had thought that a good SSIS designer would also have to be a good database modeller as well. I think that maybe I was wrong in thinking that it would be easy to find consultants. So I think that I need to scope it down as suggested above. I've seen some brilliant responses on this site from individuals who seem to be savvy on both ends, but it's not easy to contact them.

    Anyways, I'll be thankful with help in finding sources or individuals.

  • "superior ability in SSIS" is strictly opposite to very efficient and elegant designs", as well as "very strong SQL programming".

    SSIS is pretty ineffective, bulky and hard to manage tool for those who cannot do SQL.

  • I think the best way to find individuals from this forum would be to post what the project is and hope someone interested comes along.  That or reach out to known good SQL gurus and see if they are available.

    Knowing your budget (under $200) but not knowing what work needs to be done doesn't tell us a lot.  MAYBE you have a days worth of work, maybe you have a years worth of work.  As far as I know, there is no central repository of SQL Server consultants.  And even if there was, I wouldn't expect people to post themselves on there and say "I am decent at SQL.  Hire me.".  Depending on the scope of the work, posting the job as a term position may be appropriate and gives you a good chance to turn people down if needed.

    I also think that limiting the consultant to specific tools will limit your success with the project.  As Sergiy said, SSIS is pretty ineffective.  But it does have its place.  There ARE cases where it makes sense or may be required to use SSIS.

    But hiring someone without them knowing what they are going to be working on is tricky.  If I was a consultant, I would want to have a rough idea of how long I expect the project to take and how long you expect the project to take.  If you think it is a weekend project and I see it as a 6 month project, I would want to know how you came up with your timeline and I could explain mine.

    To summarize, I think you would get more "bites" looking for a consultant if the consultant knew what they were getting into.  What exactly is the project?  What is the timeline?  What is the budget?  If you are looking for $50/hour for a 6 hour project, whoever grabs that will think it is going to be an easy task  But if you are looking for $150/hour for a 6 month project, it is a more complicated task that requires more skill.  Basically the cost defines the skill required and the duration helps the consultant know if they have time to do the project.  And describing the project helps the consultant know if the timeline and budget are reasonable.

    That being said, ALL of the good consultants will have their rates pre-defined and may wiggle a little bit on them depending on how badly they need work.  Also, the last and most important part to remember when hiring anyone - you get what you pay for.

  • Mysterio wrote:

    Thank you for both of your answers.

    To provide a bit more context: I am looking at someone who is an absolute expert in data modelling creating very efficient and elegant designs, very strong SQL programming, and superior ability in SSIS. Assumption is that the person has some fundamental knowledge of DBA tasks and solutions. The person doesn't need to be an experienced DBA but knowing the fundamentals is a must.

    I know this is not easy to find, but also (either in the same person or another) someone who has superior DAX Modelling experience.

    Just my humble opinion based on personal experience...

    First, and to Sergiy's point... If you find someone that truly has "very strong SQL programming", there's a really good chance that you can avoid the throws of SSIS, altogether.  "It Depends" on what you think you want to do in SSIS.  A lot of times what people think can only be done in SSIS can easily be done using only T-SQL and the "ACE" drivers.

    The same may hold true with the DAX modeling requirement.  I say that because a lot of the companies that I worked with thought a denormalized DW and the use of things like "cubes" was the only way to setup for the analysis they wanted to do and the only way to get "fast reporting".  In a lot of cases, they just needed someone that could write good SQL, especially if that same person was good at designing tables, etc.

    And, I'm right there with you on how much some consultants charge.  A lot of folks suffer greatly from the Kruger-Dunning effect when it comes to T-SQL programming abilities. For example, I've read the blogs of a whole lot of self-proclaimed "experts" that say things like using a Recursive CTE to incrementally count through something is a "Best Practice" without understanding that even a properly written WHILE loop will beat it for duration and use only about 1/8th of the resources.  Of course, a good programmer will usually be able to turn such RBAR into a nasty fast and low resource usage bit of Set Based SQL with the additional understanding that "Set Based" doesn't necessarily mean "all in one gigantic, unmaintainable query with a bazillion joins".

    It's difficult to find someone that's really good at it because most of them suffer from "Imposter Syndrome" and that makes them pretty hard to find because they'd never consider themselves to be of "consultant quality" and don't advertise themselves as such.  When companies do manage to find one, they either keep them busy enough where they don't have the time to help other companies or the company hires them as an FTE.

    --Jeff Moden


    RBAR is pronounced "ree-bar" and is a "Modenism" for Row-By-Agonizing-Row.
    First step towards the paradigm shift of writing Set Based code:
    ________Stop thinking about what you want to do to a ROW... think, instead, of what you want to do to a COLUMN.
    "Change is inevitable... change for the better is not".
    "Dear Lord... I'm a DBA so please give me patience because, if you give me strength, I'm going to need bail money too!"

    Helpful Links:
    How to post code problems
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