BI Software: 6 Mistakes to Avoid
There was a time not too long ago that Business Intelligence (BI) tools were available only to the big players, the enterprises, as BI tools were not in the realm of most budgets. In recent years however, technology advancements including the cloud, have made it more affordable to both small and mid-sized businesses. In fact, according to a study by Software Advice, 85% are of small and mid sized businesses are now interested in investing in BI tools. Dashboards in particular are demand, with 89% of buyers citing dashboards as their most sought after functionality.
The study, which took place in 2015, found that a whopping 81% of small to mid sized businesses had no BI solution in place which means there’s a lot of room for software vendors and there partners to push BI solutions to companies of all sizes. Software vendors will do a great job of pitching the benefits of having a BI solution, but what should you look out for when deciding which BI solution is best for your business? Instead of talking about why you need BI, lets take a look at some of the common mistakes companies make when purchasing BI software so you will know what to avoid.
1. Don’t Buy BI Just Because Everyone Else Is
First of all, don’t buy something that you don’t need just because you think everyone else is and you’ll be left behind. With all the marketing and online chatter focused around BI solutions, it’s easy to feel that you need to get on board, but before you jump in, figure out your requirements, your resources and if it’s worth the expense. Maybe putting Excel on steroids with a product like XL Connect is all you need to get the job done.
2. Don’t Buy BI without Understanding Your Needs
Purchasing BI software isn’t any different than purchasing other business software solutions, and your project team needs to take the time upfront to understand what your business is trying to accomplish with Business Intelligence. Are you looking to figure out the optimal pricing structure for your products to balance profitability with growth initiatives? Are you looking to see how price impacts sales in different regions? Or do you simply need to make better use of your data?
3. Don’t Buy BI Without Understanding Available Data Integrations
The challenge of gaining business insights has always been with accessing data. Users don’t typically have an understanding of the structure of the underlying data tables and therefore are reliant on IT to connect the data tables to gain the insights they need to do their job. If disparate systems are present, then the problem is amplified.
When purchasing a BI solution, work with your IT Manager and ask the software vendor which data integrations are available out of the box, or be prepared to discuss the additional cost of creating integrations so your data can be easily accessed.
4. Don’t Buy BI without Executive and User Buy-In
Gain buy-in from both the executive and staff level within your organization. Without user buy-in you won’t get far. Without executive buy in you won’t get anywhere. Executives are responsible for the budget and help to determine budget priorities, as a result they need assurance that the company dollars are dollars that are well spent. Users can be told a new system is being evaluated or purchased, but also need to be educated on the importance of the tools. Let users know why you company is looking to add BI tools and how the tools will benefit the organization. Also talk about what BI means to them and the benefit, whether time savings or otherwise, of BI in helping them get their jobs done. Promoting a new tool to a user that doesn’t want to use it, or is not comfortable using it, can lead to the tool not being used and wasted dollars that could have been spent elsewhere.
5. Don’t Buy BI Without a Training Budget
The Return on Investment (ROI) that your business gains from a software investment, regardless of the type of software or tool, is always higher when users understand how to correctly and efficiently use the solution and are confident using it. Allocate some of your budget to training employees during the implementation process. To keep bad habits from forming, leave room in your budget for periodic refresher courses for existing employees who might be training new employees during the onboarding process.
6. Don’t Buy Inflexible BI
A big problem with older software solutions was their inability to grow and change with changing business requirements; business software was inflexible. Previous generations of software were not easily modifiable or scalable, thus when a business changed, the business was forced to continue using software based on outdated requirements or invest in a new solution.
Many of today’s solution are built with flexibility and scalability in mind to grow and change with changing business requirements. Businesses can grow in complexity, or in revenues through a merger or acquisition or a new revenue stream. You want your investment, whether a full blown ERP system or a BI solution, to have the capability to meet your needs for as long as possible as software is a big investment.
Are you considering purchasing BI or Predictive Analytics for your business? MIS offers 30 years of expertise selling and supporting business technologies to the middle market. MIS is a Solution Delivery Partner for Performance Canvas Financials, a complete Corporate Performance Management solution that includes Business Intelligence (BI), Performance Management and Advanced Analytics. Performance Canvas Financials offers out of the box integrations to many ERP solutions so that you can get up and running quickly. To learn more, call us to ask how you can leverage or MS Excel skills while linking your data for reporting, planning, budgeting, consolidating, dashboarding, scorecarding and more. To learn more, contact MIS today!
Related MIS Blog Posts:
10 Benefits of Using PC Financials Budgeting Software
9 Tips to Identifying Your ERP Solution Faster
Business Intelligence Software Buyer Report