The information gained from answering these questions should be used to create a list of requirements
to identify the most suitable products for the enterprise. The aim is to produce a shortlist of candidates by
weeding out vendors that do not meet the core business requirements. Info-Tech's other four factors can
be used to further differentiate vendors to find the best-fit selection.
1. Don't aim for best-of-breed. The right BI solution must provide business decision makers with
the information they need to attain operational and strategic business objectives. Many IT
professionals will aim for a best-in-class solution assuming it will provide the optimal value. Best-
in-class does not always mean it will be the best solution for a particular organization. However, it
usually does mean higher licensing and support costs. Organizations should look for a solution
that best suits the particular decision support needs of the business and no more.
2. Focus on differentiating features. Generally speaking, most vendors have comparable levels of
functionality (common features) for standard BI activities (e.g. ad hoc querying and reporting,
etc.). Business requirements should be used to identify differentiating features between vendors.
A differentiating feature is simply a functionality that is not offered by all the solutions or offered in
a more desirable way (e.g. predictive analytics for retail or relational OLAP for larger data
volumes). Using business requirements in this way will reduce the number of candidates to a list
that addresses business needs.
3. Have someone familiar with BI run the requirements gathering process. Getting quality
requirements requires knowing which questions to ask stakeholders and end users. It is critical
that the person running the process is familiar with BI solutions or has a BI specialist on the team.
An understanding of BI will ensure that the information gathered during the business
requirements process is relevant to the selection of a BI solution.
4. Remain open to change. Changing requirements are par for the course in any software project.
Inevitably end users and stakeholders gain a better understanding of their needs as they proceed
through the selection process (e.g. during vendor demos). The acquisition team needs to remain
disciplined to avoid project chaos but flexible enough to accommodate changes as participants in
the process develop more insight.
Cutting through the vendor-speak to find a BI solution that fits the business needs and technology
environment of the organization is not easy. Include enterprise business requirements as part of the
selection strategy to simplify the process.
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