February 12, 2024

10 Tips On How To Choose ML Consulting Firm for Your Business

Find out the best practices for selecting the right ML consulting companies. Our guide covers all aspects of this process and explains what to consider when looking for partners in this field.

Written by
Serhii Uspenskyi

Table of Contents

Machine learning solutions have become vital to many industries. Their versatility makes companies invest in ML development, contributing to the market for these solutions, which is expected to reach $31,36 billion by 2028. Many businesses don’t know the first thing about exploring this market despite the wide availability of firms specializing in machine learning consultation.

It can take them considerable time to narrow down options and select the right providers. This guide is all about finding firms that fully correspond to the particular business needs, which traits they should possess, how to establish their expertise, and the best tips for organizations that streamline this process.

Why Work With A Machine Learning Consultancy Firm

Each business has its reasons for developing a piece of software that uses machine learning technology, but it's mostly either for profit or to improve internal processes. Popular ML products include recommendation engines, image recognition, content localization, and traffic prediction solutions.

More about using Machine Learning for Startups - here!

Of course, some of the bigger firms have dedicated programmer teams that handle such projects. However, not everybody has the capacity and the time to maintain additional staff, especially enterprises with limited budgets. Getting a consultation from a firm specializing in ML has several advantages.

  • Expertise. Such firms work with software engineers possessing intricate knowledge of machine learning practices. Their experience and skills ensure faster development of ML-based solutions and the use of the latest developments in this field.
  • Cost efficiency. Working with ML consultancy companies saves enterprises time and effort in building programming teams. They are especially effective when it comes to specific tasks and short-term projects.
  • Deeper insights. Companies with programmers on their staff get valuable knowledge about developing ML solutions. This information serves as a foundation for future ML projects and allows engineers to maintain and update models independently.
  • Faster development. Getting help from these organizations lets companies cut time spent on programming ML-based products. They get MVP versions and finished products a lot faster.
  • Flexibility. Consultancy firms are highly scalable regarding changing project goals and scope. Their experience working in many industries and tailoring different solutions is indispensable and helps find the best solutions.
  • Risk mitigation. Organizations with proven credentials and experience drastically reduce the change of errors in ML project development. They help enterprises identify potential risks and explain how to avoid them.
  • Tailored solutions. Businesses working with ML consultancy organizations receive custom LLM models specific to their data and goals. Engineers working at these firms seamlessly pair machine-learning solutions with existing infrastructures.

How To Prepare For A Machine Learning Consultation

Before a company begins looking for an ML consultancy firm, it must first iron out some of the project details and prepare for the consultation. Both parties need a blueprint to understand the solution better and identify its limitations. This process includes several vital parts:

Establish your goals

A business must establish why it needs an ML solution. This knowledge will help consultants to understand their end goal better and provide individual advice. The company should also identify what it hopes to achieve with the ML solution, such as higher efficiency, accuracy, or profits.

Gather relevant data

When project goals are more or less defined, it's important to find and compile information relevant to the features and functions of the solution. ML-based software relies on the quality and quantity of information used in training models.

Understand your limitations

Identify technical constraints that may impede the compatibility of ML software with existing systems. The enterprise should also come up with an estimated timeline and budget to keep the scope of the project realistic.

Learn the basics of ML

Before beginning the search, learn about the basics of ML technology. The knowledge of concepts will allow you to comprehend this field better and participate in discussions with consultants.

Document existing infrastructure

Additionally, the enterprise must document its current technical infrastructure, hardware, and software. This way, ML consultants will understand potential issues and integration opportunities.

Determine key participants

The business should also establish people who will be responsible for conducting the talks. If possible, include all heads of the departments that will be directly impacted by new machine learning solutions.

Have a follow-up plan

Finally, develop a follow-up plan in case your consultancy will lead to further cooperation. This document should contain the main insights gathered from the consultations, including the suggested price and timeline.

10 Tips On How To Choose ML Consulting Firm

Once you have some solid information to work with, it’s time to look for a consultant firm that specializes in machine learning tech. It might be overwhelming to see all these search results pop up on your screen but don’t worry. Use these ten tips, and you’ll surely find a provider that suits the needs of your business.

  1. Look For Relevant Experience

One of the main factors to focus on is the technical expertise of candidates working in ML consultancy. The company should have a team of competent machine learning experts. If possible, check employee profiles on LinkedIn. It's also vital to see if the website provides a portfolio of delivered ML projects.

  1. Check Out Past Projects

Even if the company has a relevant portfolio, it's still important to click around and see how well these ML solutions work. Of course, ML is widely used for internal applications, but there are pieces of software accessible to customers. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to ask previous clients about their experience working with the firm.

  1. Assess Communication Skills

As a rule, the businesses in the ML consultancy field directly state their communication methods and policies. Check out information on tools (Skype, Slack, Trello, etc.) and if the staff is fluent in English. They should directly state if their workers can adjust to different time zones and accommodate different timetables.

  1. Check Technical Skills

Find out If the ML consultants have profiles on platforms like UpWork and LinkedIn, look at their expertise and skills, and if those are confirmed by fellow software engineers and machine learning experts. They should possess knowledge of Java, Python, and other languages used in ML development.

  1. Evaluate Security and Privacy Policies

Additionally, the ML consultancy firm must have security and privacy information that’s easy to find on the company website. Learn about their data protection practices to ensure that the development process will stay under wraps and that the developers will do their best to build the safest products for the business and the users.

  1. Analyze The Pricing Structure

Another important factor to consider is the price. Many companies don’t have fees for consulting enterprises on potential projects. Instead, they give estimates only after getting to learn the project details. But, this approach differs from firm to firm, so ensure that you first look this information up on the website.

  1. Check For Ongoing Support

A good machine learning consultancy firm goes beyond offering its opinion about the merits of proposed projects. They offer a full spectrum of development services, from POC versions to final products. Additionally, the company should provide support beyond the delivery phase, updating ML projects with new features and upgrades.

  1. Stay Patient

Another point to consider is that your search for the perfect ML firm may take some time. Carefully go through each candidate, evaluating their pros and cons as related to the project goals and requirements. This approach will pay off in the end, as your enterprise will locate the right candidate for its needs.

  1. Be Transparent

When talking to potential candidates; don’t shy away from sharing your expectations about the project with them. There’s no need to hide problem spots in your organization as this can obscure the right approach to the solution from potential developers. Share as much as possible to increase the chances of getting the best solutions.

10.  Keep An Open Mind

Finally, understand that not everything will go your way. The project can meet unexpected hurdles or follow deadlines without any problems whatsoever. Prepare to face both scenarios, as ML is an ever-changing field that presents new solutions or issues. Even if your project fails or becomes a success, this experience will be educational.

Factors To Consider During The Consultations

After you have narrowed down the list of candidates, now comes the most important part: the consultation. At this stage, you’ll probably decide whether or not to work with a firm. To make your choice easier, look for these qualities in the company representatives:

  1. Attention To Details

People working in ML consultancy should ask the right questions during the interviews. What separates good providers from the best is their interest in the projects. They are eager to ask follow-up questions and to know everything about your business and industry.

An enterprise like that wishes to comprehend what your passion is, what your company data looks like, and what you want to use it for. This shows the firm’s passion for tailoring a product that meets your goals and expectations. It also demonstrates their approach towards the development process.

  1. Being Reasonable

Another area where a machine learning consultancy should excel is treating its clients like grown adults during the discussion. The company should be honest about the technologies and techniques it will use and how much time and effort the project will take. A consultancy firm shouldn’t blindly agree to client requests as these aren’t always the most rational or achievable.

  1. Honesty

Organizations with a lot of experience under their belt don’t take forever to tell if an ML project can be developed or not. They explain to potential clients if they should invest in this type of software after one or two consultations without dragging out this process for weeks and months.

It’s not a guarantee that the project will succeed, but this helps organizations better understand whether they must pursue particular ML projects. Only after they confirm that their ideas are worth it should companies build POC versions.

  1. Openness

Another sign of a competent ML consulting firm is its unwillingness to agree with every idea your organization puts forward during the talks. A good company tries to guide clients to make better decisions, even if they clash with some of the project ideas.

Machine learning solutions consultants should notify customers if there’s no straightforward way to finish the product or insufficient training data. Additionally, not all projects can be developed for one reason or another. The firm must be direct about this instead of misleading clients.

  1. Knowledge

A machine consultancy firm representative should be able to explain the main principles of machine learning technology in a manner that your company can understand. Learn a bit about this technology or ask someone who understands its basics to talk to the ML firm. Its representatives should have a fair grasp of the key concepts used in machine learning.

  1. Transparency

Finally, during the machine learning consultations, ask the firm’s representatives about its previous projects. Of course, they won’t be able to go into deep detail about every product. But, a bit of insight into the problems the firm ran into or how long the development lasted can give you a better idea of what to expect from the project.

Final Thoughts

Selecting the right firm offering machine learning consultancy can be challenging. But, with the right preparations, it's possible to speed up this process and narrow down candidates using a structured and detailed approach. If you found our article useful, be sure to share it with fellow enterprise owners who are looking to find a machine learning firm to work with.

Customer retention is the key

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What are the most relevant factors to consider?

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What’s the ideal customer retention rate?

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Next steps to increase your customer retention

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