5 Simple Rules For Choosing Business Intelligence Software…Intelligently

Sometimes it is incredibly hard for me to understand the amount of money being spent on Business Intelligence software knowing that within a year and sometimes even less the purchasers of Business Intelligence software will scrap it, buy something else, and/or just not even use it at all.

Many reasons can be attributed to this kind of hole in the boat spending. There are inexperienced business users, poor software vetting, and even change of leadership whom prefer a different overall approach or solution. Here are 5 simple rules to follow in order to get the most out of your Business Intelligence operation.

1. It’s Not About The Software, Its About The Plan

So many times we get caught in wanting to buy the software because we think we are supposed to have that software (whatever is hot at the moment). We make decisions on which specific software is best based on its features and not whether those features are vital to the plan. The plan is the deciding factor. If your 5 year business plan/strategy says you need to be conducting complex data mining then don’t make the main factor in buying software based on the visualizations it provides instead look at the ability to mine the data and use many complex algorithms against your data. All because your plan is seeing the bigger picture and needs to build capabilities in order to fulfill the plan not the latest fad.

2. Don’t Spend A Dime Until You See It In Action

This seams like a pretty simple rule however I venture that many more than 50-60% of companies purchase software based on simple free trials based on non-critical fabricated sample data sets. This is not a wise way to spend money based on what one “thinks” might work. You need to see it. You need to get your companies data running through the tool. Produce reports, queries, ad-hoc analysis, multiple users, and whatever you can do to try and break it. Would you rather test it thoroughly first, see that it can’t do what they say it can do or pay money (potentially millions) to see it crash right out of the gate and spend the next year trying to throw more money at a boat that has a hole in it? In my experience, a software vendor who is not willing to let you truly test their software in your environment has something to hide and shouldn’t be trusted.

3. There Is No Single “Be All And End All” Solution

The Business Intelligence world is huge. There are so many specific functions and capabilities that lie within the realm of BI that its the reason why there is no one company, no one software that does it all. Don’t put money towards one software solution and try to use it for doing all the things you need done. I know you are thinking “But we can’t afford to have every software for every capability we need!”. Buy the puzzle pieces that are going to fit into your overall puzzle (aka plan). Don’t try and buy the entire puzzle because it will never be what you expect.

4. Pick Software For What It’s Built To Do, Not For The Extras

This is true – focus on the core pieces you need. If you need reporting, get the best tool that’s prime focus is reporting. If you also need an analytics capabilities then get the best tool that’s prime focus is analytics. You will end up with a software toolset that serves your needs well beyond what you paid for it. Also its important to note that by trying to use a tool for what its not made to do (however much the vendor might convince you that it can) will cost you more in wasted time, effort, and money than just buying the correct software in the first place.

5. Be Prepared To Fully Implement The Solution Before Buying

This one actually is the most obvious one to many but truly doesn’t get the attention it should. There is the cost of purchasing the software however there is always an add-on cost. The cost of what it will take to fully implement and get the use out of the tool. This is the servers, the licenses, the storage capacity, the bandwidth, and especially training. A software is worth nothing until it can fully do what it was meant to. Yet so many don’t plan enough and prepare to put the amount of resources behind ensuring getting it fully adopted, used, and in turn do not see the ROI the thought they would.