You know that a BI solution will solve taxing problems for your company. But how do you choose the right Business Intelligence vendor? What are the important things to consider for this type of evaluation? This process demands your attention because it can influence the success of implementing and using a BI platform to its full potential.
Many organizations, enterprises, or start-ups rely on a BI solution for effective strategic decisions, product innovations, or productivity boosts. The amount of data at hand is enormous and BI tools transform raw data into meaningful insights that enable more successful strategic, operational, or development decisions to be made.
The key is to find the BI solution that best suits a company’s needs, that can meet its most significant challenges, and that can be useful, quick, and easy for end users. To find this, it is important to understand the BI project requirements and the key steps necessary for an effective selection process.
This requires a lot of questions and answers about the business objectives, BI technology, software capabilities and features, customization, costs, training and adoption, and so on.
We have put together the main questions that will help you find the right BI platform for your business.
Know Your Company’s Needs
Experience has shown us that one of the main reasons why a Business Intelligence solution fails to be efficient is a lack of initial requirements and definition from the company that will use it. After an organization decides to acquire a BI platform, the first steps are to clarify the objectives of using the platform with all the departments that will benefit from this development.
You must understand your company’s needs, objectives, and challenges. Based on that, you can identify the most pressing issues, the must-have features and the nice-to-have options by internal analysis or brainstorming with Management, Finance, Marketing, Sales, IT, Operations, and any other departments involved.
Once you have a full list of objectives and features, you can create a step-by-step implementation plan with the people involved in the deployment and training before following up with ROI metrics. Ahead of analyzing your options, you must answer many other questions:
- Who is on the project management team?
- What is your budget for this project?
- Who are the qualified peers from your team who will manage the platform implementation?
- How do you want to consume all of the data (with log-in to a platform, with push emails, and so on)?
Understand BI Technology
You have established your needs and now you must find out which BI solution best fits your business objectives. Don’t worry about having to analyze specialized tech information about data warehouses or reporting tools, but it is useful to understand the options available and to ask the right questions.
You should know that a BI solution can have enterprise versions which are complex and efficient, but also self-service tools, which are easier to use. Based on your challenges and need, you must identify a good solution for you:
- Do you need real-time data?
- Are your company’s needs more tactical? You can use software designed to monitor current changes and to identify new opportunities.
- Do you need investigative software that finds correlation between data and helps you predict trends?
- Will you be using historical data to gain an advantage? You can use a traditional solution.
Also, best practice is to note some key tech questions for your vendors and to find out if the platform is scalable.
- Where will the data be stored – in a single database or in multiple databases?
- Does it support multiple user roles?
- Does it include a CRM tool?
- Does the Business Intelligence vendor offer customizable solutions?
Understand the Software Capabilities
Having done your homework properly, you can research Business Intelligence vendors and contact them to see what they have to offer. At this stage, you can review them using many criteria and you should pay attention to software capabilities like security, flexibility, and mobility. Here are a few important questions you should ask your potential vendor:
- Is the software flexible and can it manage both actual needs and future challenges?
- Can you share data securely? How does the platform keep private information safe?
- Are the dashboards customizable? Can you create several dashboards?
- Will you be able to access and use data easily from mobile devices?
- How easy can the platform be learnt? Are the interfaces intuitive and easy to use?
You should know that the market is competitive and vendors offer application suites, flexible solutions, and complex BI tools. Many professionals advise against searching for the perfect solution that fixes everything and to avoid being dazzled by too many features. Instead, you should search for a solution that addresses your main issues and aligns with your objectives.
Implementation and Adoption
You have the best suitable platform for your organization’s needs, but is it accessible for end users? If the BI tools won’t be used to their full potential, they won’t deliver you success or profitability and that is not an option.
So, you must have answers for the implementation and adoption phases. First, you must understand the implementation process and how long it will take. After that, how quickly will the platform be up and running and how soon will it start to show results?
You have the software and you need the users trained to benefit from it. You should find out from your vendors:
- What type of training is needed for end users?
- How hard is it to create a custom dashboard or special reports if you don’t have IT expertise?
- How much IT intervention is required
When you have narrowed down the number of vendors to choose from, look for the total cost.
Regardless of your budgetary constraints, you should plan well by paying attention to the full cost. You may discover hidden costs that can threaten the project’s implementation and completion.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for the software itself. At this point, you have to find out:
- The costs for training, support for implementation, or other services.
- The price for the Software License Agreement.
- What are the options for customer support?
- What hardware do you need?
- Are there any other additional costs?
History has taught us that fixed prices are more reliable, including support and additional services. Find out also if you are talking to a software vendor or a partner.
When choosing a Business Intelligence vendor, you should assume from the beginning that you won’t find a completely perfect solution that solves all your problems. A platform with the most advanced and best features, a top vendor, well known in the market, or a low price aren’t sufficient arguments.
The right choice would be the vendor that is able to deliver the platform that best suits your objectives and supports your company’s specific needs.