Business intelligence (BI) has transformed from data collecting into a more advanced discipline. Today, people use BI tools to draw insights from their business’ data.These insights help make informed decisions to improve processes. Since BI tools are numerous and variable in both cost and features, they can be difficult to evaluate. But doing so properly can be one of the best investments of time a business can make. The evaluation process starts by gathering a ranked list of business intelligence requirements; these requirements determine what you need to look for in a vendor.
During the selection process, you’ll find that not all vendors include the same features. Without a pre-made list of business intelligence needs, it’s easy to choose the wrong solution based on a shiny new feature not offered by other vendors. But if your chosen vendor doesn’t have a feature you need, then it’s a waste of your investment.
When you gather a list of BI requirements, you can properly assess the vendors you’re looking at. And by ranking your list, you can skip vendors from the get-go if they don’t offer one of your top requirements.
So if you’re a business intelligence analyst or software buyer, what should your business intelligence requirements checklist look like? These nine business intelligence requirements areas are common and necessary in any BI integration:
1. Platform Functions
The platform functions of business intelligence software establish the baseline of the system. Features such as interactivity, ease of use and customization influence the functionality of the software’s other tools.
2. Data Visualization
An important requirement of business intelligence software is representing analyses in a visual medium. Reports organize data insights into a format that can be easily configured, shared and interpreted. With customization-focused features, users can adjust reports to look how they want and reflect the information they need to share.
Charts and Graphs
Drag and Drop Creation
Freehand SQL Command
Analytics features provide insight into business processes through the evaluation of profits, productivity, social media and location metrics. Business intelligence systems utilize real-time analysis and forecasting to observe current performance and predict future possibilities.
Social Media Analytics
4. Online Analytical Processing (OLAP)
Online analytical processing involves multi-dimensional analysis of web-based data cubes that house large, layered sets of information. Drill-down capabilities and data exploration provide access to the details of these databases. Accessing these data layers show how different variables relate to each other and uncover possible happenings.
Time-Series Auto Generation
5. Document Management
The ability to export reports into different document formats allows for a streamlined exchange of information. Users of BI software can convert data visualizations into the format most digestible to their audience — whether that’s compiling the information in a spreadsheet, or simply making the report a PDF for simple sharing.
Export to Microsoft Excel
Export to Microsoft Workbook
Export to PDF
Export to HTML
6. Decision Services
As we touched on earlier, security is one of the bigger issues in software, especially when deployed on the cloud. Therefore, a user privilege parameter is an essential feature for a BI solution. This parameter lets you set limits on who can access, export and edit your files, spreadsheets and graphs.
Comparing BI tools reveal the vendors who limit their software to proprietary architecture. However, the best BI software is built on open architecture. This makes integration with other software applications a simple process.
Your BI tool also must allow users to merge data from various applications. For instance, graphs and charts are integral to BI visualization tools and must integrate into reports. Application importing saves end users the time it takes to recreate these features multiple times.
MS Office Applications
8. Big Data Integration
Top BI tools don’t limit their support to one particular database. Ideally, the best applications permit access to a variety of data sources. These data sources should include data warehouses, data marts, SQL servers and more.
Big Data Connectors
Your chosen deployment method depends on the existing infrastructure of your business and your storage and security needs. An on-premise solution appeals to organizations that want to keep their data in-house. Alternatively, cloud-based deployment offers security and on-the-go availability. Mobile capabilities provide the option to access your BI solution from any device.
Our list of requirements includes general capabilities to keep in mind while searching for a BI solution. All of these requirements and more can be found on our thorough (but free!) business intelligence requirements gathering template. This template is broken down into 5 major BI criteria containing 21 sub-groups and more than 90 total requirements.
Whether evaluating non-functional or business intelligence functional requirements for BI software, using a requirement gathering template can help you choose the right BI solution. They can also help you learn everything you need to accelerate your purchase and avoid unnecessary spending.
Which features does your company require for business intelligence software? Let us know in the comments!