There are so many BI solutions in the marketplace today that it’s hard to know where to begin. The features and functionality can easily sideline more fundamental issues, such as the user experience, the ease of accessing and managing data, and whether or not the tool integrates well with other critical business systems. But these things can mean more of a difference in terms of acceptance of the tool than what bells and whistles come with it. Here are the most common mistakes to avoid with your BI tool.
1. Failing to Choose a BI Tool with the Help of Business Users
BI tools (indeed, most enterprise software) are often selected by C-level executives and perhaps a team of IT and other managers. This fails to take into account how workers actually do their jobs each day. When selecting your software, be sure that the users have input, as well. Otherwise, you may not end up with a system that actually meets their needs, and you’ll almost certainly have problems when it comes time to implement and adopt the software.
2. Selecting an Overly Complex BI Tool
It’s so tempting to go with the tool that offers the most functionality and special features. But an overly complicated system will just make it harder for users to do all of their daily tasks. Instead, consider a more basic, streamlined system that will be easy to implement, simple to train workers on, and begins delivering an ROI much quicker. It’s usually possible to negotiate with the vendor for additional features later, when everyone is used to the system and you know for sure what they need to make it better.
3. Trying to Use Excel as a BI Solution
Excel is tremendously useful and powerful for what it does. But it was never intended to be a BI solution and is actually rather bad at it. Excel makes it extremely easy to get bad data into the system, skewing results, and the problems are nearly impossible to find and fix. Today’s BI software come with functionality that helps keep the data clean and puts the data where it’s easy to manage and to retrieve later. Once you migrate off of Excel for BI purposes, you will never look back, except to bemoan all the time wasted hunting for the proverbial needle in the Excel-spreadsheet-gone-mad haystack.
4. Attempting to Piecemeal a BI Solution with Multiple Applications
Some businesses, instead of adopting a complete BI solution, attempt to glean meaningful BI out of a variety of applications, patched together like grandma used to assemble a quilt out of your old baby clothes. The result, unlike grandma’s quilt, is never pretty. Instead of trying to integrate or ad hoc numerous back-end systems to try to coax some BI out of it, implement a thorough BI tool that was designed and built for the job.
5. Neglecting to Cleanse the Data & Establish Solid Governance Policies
Part of the implementation process for new BI software should be data cleansing and establishing sound governance policies to assure that (as much as possible) the data stays clean. Feeding bad data into a good system only produces bad results. Never attempt to make important business decisions based on data that is flawed for lack of cleansing and rigorous management.
6. Not Addressing Specific Problems with the BI Tool
Unfortunately “getting good business intel” is not a good reason to invest in a BI tool. In order to get a system that addresses the needs of the organization, it’s essential to list and define the exact problems the solution needs to address. If you progress from this perspective, the tool you end up with will be exactly what you need for success.
Of course, price is also a consideration, and the best bang for the bucks is what will inevitably convince the C-suite to sign the dotted line. If you would like to compare business tools based on price as well as features, functionality, and other considerations, you can get a software pricing comparison now.