How to Choose a Business Intelligence (BI) Tool in 6 Steps

If your organization is currently selecting a Business Intelligence (BI) Tool, you may be feeling overwhelmed in where to begin or even where to start.

This guide will help frame the selection process in 6 easy to follow steps.

This process should be done once you already have gone through a Build vs Buy decision for a BI tool. This article is for those who have already chosen to buy a BI tool.

1. Document the Business and Tech requirements you need

The first part of the process is defining what business and technology requirements you need from your BI solution.

Sample business questions to ask:

  1. Who is going to be using the analytics? Is it going to be used internally for decision makers or for users on your platform (Embedded Analytics)?
  2. What is your budget for the project?

Sample tech questions to ask:

  1. What does your data architecture look like?
  2. Do you predict any changes to this data architecture in the future?
  3. Is Mult-Tenancy something you need in your BI solution?
  4. Do you need to have ETLs (“Extract, Transform, Load”) in your solution?
  5. Is Big Data a concern?

Note: Many vendors are unable to support MongoDB which is something that I learned in my search for a BI solution.

2. Create a Shortlist of Vendors

The goal of a shortlist is to have 3-6 different vendors that you are interested in receiving a demo for. These vendors should be selected from the criteria you defined earlier in Step 1.

3. Invite Vendors for a Live Demo

In this phase of the process, you should invite vendors to demo their solutions to you. The focus should be on seeing your use case being solved by your solution.

At this point, it is useful to bring other stakeholders into the process to provide insight into the software. It’s recommended that you have meetings with the vendor beforehand to ensure the demo will solve your use case and the goals are aligned.

4. Create a Proof of Concept (PoC)

Once you have lowered the shortlist to 1-2 vendors, it is recommended that you do a Proof Concept with your vendors. The PoC will allow you to test out the software in your environment.

If you only have time for one PoC, then proceed with the one you are most likely to pick. This will help eliminate any remaining thoughts about integration or capabilities with your final shortlist.

5. Negotiate with your final shortlist of Vendors

The final step in the process is to proceed with the negotiation part of the process. As with other enterprise software negotiations, there is a strategic part of this step, where it might be useful to pit two vendors against each other for the best price.

Other considerations could be deciding to purchase the software a the end of the month or the year so your sales representative meets his or her quota.

6. Close Contract and Begin Integration

The final part of the process is completing the contract and beginning the integration part of your new BI tool.

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