Today’s business world continues to evolve into hyper-competitive environments that demand immediate response from customers, suppliers and employees. Company staff are constantly sent and emailed with “urgent” and “immediate” responses required. Less time is available, but more time is needed for business analytics because of how quickly the marketplace can change and the huge amount of information that needs to be analyzed to make an informed business decision. Business Intelligence is quickly becoming a necessity rather than a luxury.
When considering BI solutions, the following questions should be asked to perspective providers and within your organization:
What will the Business Intelligence solution give the company? This seems like an obvious factor, but I’m always surprised that during the first kick-off sessions with new clients, it becomes very clear that they don’t know what they want their solution to give them. More often than not, I find that customers know what they don’t want, not what they want. Make sure your organization has a clear understanding of what it wants from the solution, that it saves time and money.
Chose a user-friendly system. The BI solution is very different from an accounting software or ERP system in that a large number of people use every day. While you may be looking at the results or information that a BI solution provides in the form of a dashboard, the analytics side of the program is not usually used daily by everyone that you would do for an accounting program. The easier the program is to use it better if people forget how to use software – they just don’t want to use it.
Mapping – Business Intelligence solutions can typically be linked to a number of databases or ERP systems when the vendor understands whether the data existed. To save time and money, find out if your vendor has the mapping for your system and is familiar with the data location of your existing accounting or ERP system. The more familiar they are with the architecture of your existing system, the less it will cost you to consult or implement fees.
Who will use the Business Intelligence solution? Management must be fully on board in implementing a Business Intelligence solution. If senior executives do not use the analytic tools provided, middle and bottom managers will follow suit. Including one person from each department will also ensure that the organization gets the most benefit from the solution.
Test run the Business Intelligence solution. Many different types of solutions are available in the market with smooth interfaces and great dashboards. But a solution needs to be adapted to the needs of a particular company that can vary widely between companies and industries. Ask for prototypes with your company’s data and trial periods so your business can validate that this is the right solution for your business.
How long is the implementation time? – Again, this may seem obvious, but many Business Intelligence solutions are very powerful, but can be difficult to implement and / or attach to certain databases, account programs or ERP systems. The cost of the software can only be the tip of the iceberg. Talk to existing customers and ask how long the implementation phase was?
Appoint an internal project manager to implement Business Intelligence. When companies implement new accounting systems or ERP systems, they typically identify a project manager – someone who manages the process and keeps track of implementation deadlines. Business Intelligence solutions typically lack this type of internal resource allocation that can result in missed deadlines or unclear communication between the vendor and the company. Assign an internal manager; it is an important step that increases the chances of successful implementation
The following seven problems are typically the areas that can cause significant delays or failures in the implementations. Be sure to discuss all of these issues in detail with your potential vendors and increase your chances of choosing the right BI solution significantly and getting all the benefits of a properly matched and implemented solution for your business.