Do you ever think about whether your business decisions are the best you can do for your business? That’s where a business intelligence (BI) tool can help you out.
BI software and tools work alongside your data warehousing and ERP systems to give you data-based insights so that you can make better data driven decisions and not vague assumptions.
Not all BI systems are built the same, and the exact results you get from your BI assessments could vary depending on the tool you choose. So, having a proper BI assessment model is as important as the efforts you put into using your BI tools.
But this information can be hard to find, and most vendors will only highlight the positives of their BI tool. You need proper methods to be able to assess your BI applications objectively.
What Are The Critical BI Requirements?
The components listed below can be used as a starting point for evaluating and comparing the requirements of various BI tools.
Infrastructure and Architecture
This component relates to how well a BI tool can align with your existing IT infrastructure. The BI tool you select should integrate well within your overall IT network and be compatible with the operating systems, server, and data communication formats that you’re using.
You should be able to measure aspects like reusability, caching, load balancing, in-memory techniques, and more to see if a particular BI tool will work at its best performance and operational level with your existing IT infrastructure.
BI involves the use of large amounts of data sourced from your data warehousing applications or ERP systems. It’s an implied requirement that any software that handles sensitive data must abide with the security standards and policy your entire organization complies with.
You’ll have to consider the various security criteria such as authentication, authorization levels, and the security strength of the different data source connectors used by the BI tool.
The business intelligence evaluation criteria pertain to all the relevant parameters that come into play when you have applications deployed in a cloud service model (Iaas, Paas, Saas...).
Mobile Business Intelligence
Mobile apps have grown to be an integral part of most businesses and are often the first point of contact businesses have with their customers. Hence, it’s crucial that your BI software can support the various mobile platforms that you use. You should also assess whether the BI solution you choose supports uniform reporting on all kinds of devices.
Core Operations and Functions
Certain core functionalities are expected of a BI tool for it to be of good value for your business. Some core functionalities you should look out for are:
If all your BI does is report its findings with no recommendations or suggestions for improvement, then it may not carry much value. You would then need the help of experts who can make sense out of the facts and data thrown at you. Around 50% of all BI tools don’t necessarily include performance management and planning features. So, pick out the ones with this feature so that your understanding of BI reports gets easier.
You’ll have examined the level of predictive analysis and data mining supported by the BI tool. Additional techniques like text mining help you classify word documents and help derive insights from your social media interactions and unstructured textual data sources.
Ease of Use
You need to assess the usability factor of the BI tool. When you have good visualizations and easy-to-understand reporting formats, it’ll easily explain the same to your stakeholders and allow you to arrive at the best conclusions.
Other features and qualities that can help enhance usability include:
- Self-service capabilities like data blending and data wrangling
- Collaborative and social BI options like storytelling, liking, guided analysis, and more
BI tools have to deal with vast amounts of data and technology, like Big Data, and thus will carry out several performance-intensive operations which can strain your IT infrastructure. You need to evaluate various performance factors like response time, aggregate awareness, big data connectors performance, and more to see if the BI tool can support your operations without much lag and if it can provide a smooth user experience.
The alerting and notification functionality, along with quick searching capabilities, can be a huge help when you want real-time insights to deal with an issue.
BI Assessment Checklist
Following a checklist helps you implement consistent evaluation techniques for all prospective BI software you intend to use and get a better comparative score.
Before you start evaluating any BI tool, you should finalize the various criteria you think are most crucial for your business case. In general, your business intelligence assessment checklist should at least contain:
BI Assessment Considerations
You will have to undertake a business intelligence readiness assessment to evaluate your business’s readiness to adopt an advanced BI solution. Make sure you have answers to the following essential business intelligence assessment questions:
- Who will be using the solution? You should have a precise specification of the various user roles to be associated with the BI solution, including the end-users and various stakeholders involved.
- What are the core features and functionalities you need?
- By when do you want the functionality delivered?
- Where do you plan to deploy the BI solution?
- Why do you need BI? What objectives do you seek to accomplish with the help of BI software? This is important to track the success of your BI implementation.
- What is your BI implementation and adoption plan?
- How much are you willing to spend on a BI solution? What’s the cost-benefit analysis results?
Initiate a pilot project to assess if a particular BI tool will satisfy your requirements. You should devise test plans and scenarios for each of the specific criteria you want to evaluate. Here are some sample test cases that’ll help you create a complete business intelligence test plan:
- Data handling volumes can be tested at different boundary values
- Test concurrent system usage and see the maximum number of user actions that can be performed simultaneously
- Test data source connections and validate metadata exchanges
- Test how historical data is handled
- Test support for slowly changing dimensions
- Include test cases for using complex and predefined indicators
Besides the technical evaluation, you should also investigate the financial stability of the vendor as well as any room for price negotiations for the services offered.
A complete assessment of BI solutions will consider the various aspects and the perspectives from the end-user, organizational level support, technical capabilities, and data management requirements.
As you can see, BI tools play an essential role in performing an in-depth business intelligence assessment. However, it’s recommended to turn to experts who can help you make the most out of these assessments and ensure everything is on track.
Be sure to contact us if you want to learn more about how you can implement BI in your organization and make the most of it.