Business intelligence (BI) software can be a challenging purchase for even the most informed professional. If you are just starting out on the task of educating yourself on BI software and what your company needs, there are some tips provided here that can make the task a bit easier for you and more beneficial for your company. As the variety of choices in BI software is wide and the vendors many, you definitely have your work cut out for you.
The Disconnect in Purchasing BI Software
While business leaders have been purchasing BI software for years, there is still a significant disconnect in the purchasing process. For one, too many buyers are trying to get as much as they can for the lowest possible price. And, there is little that is more embarrassing than having to ask for a bigger budget in BI software spending simply because you forgot to account for a specific BI module. Vendors also want to extract as much value out of the customer as possible and the two don’t always see eye to eye on BI software. The situation becomes worse when the buyer is not even sure what to demand from the BI software as he or she can easily be consumed by the vendor.
Understanding What to Buy with BI Software
Before you get too serious about looking at what vendors have to offer, you first need to understand what your company expects BI software to be able to do. What kind of information do you want to grab, where will that information be stored, and how will that information be used? If you have information you want captured across every department within the company, your needs are very different from the customer who is seeking to capture information simply from the sales side. You also need to consider whether or not you want your BI software to include data from the marketplace and your competitors. If you capture information that is that far-reaching, how will you analyze it?
Involve Your Procurement Department in the BI Software Buying Process
A failure to involve those people who are used to the process of making substantial purchases may end up biting you in the pocketbook later on. Purchasing BI software may seem like something that should only involve your IT department, but the process is more complicated than that. Your company has a procurement department for a reason, so involve your best people in the process of purchasing BI software. They may not be able to talk your language in terms of processing, capabilities, data capture, etc., but they do understand what they should expect from a vendor in terms of value and support. Their role in the purchasing process of your BI software platform could save you money and headaches.
The Fine Print in BI Software
Like every other purchase you make, your BI software will have fine print. You need to understand what you get for the purchase price, what is supported over the life of the contract, how SLAs work and the cost and complexity of upgrades. If you opt for a hosted solution, you can be sure upgrades will be much easier, but lower cost is not always guaranteed. Do your homework and you’ll be ready to make a BI software purchase.