Real Questions to Ask BI Vendors Before You Buy - Slide 9

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Dig into the Financials

You want to know a vendor's financial viability, especially startups. Even if it's a private company with no public filings, try to get some kind of financial statements and/or speak to the company's CFO (under non-disclosure, of course). Ask how much cash the vendor has on hand. A possible red flag with established companies is one that now sells something very different from its original products. 'They're basically a startup,' says Wayne Eckerson, director of education and research for The Data Warehousing Institute (TDWI).

AllWhen our Ann All began researching questions to ask BI vendors, she was surprised that after a little prodding they produced some great questions, ones she'd want to ask any potential BI vendor before she got up from the table. Several of them offered clever suggestions on how to move past generic questions to more specific ones that should yield more accurate answers. You should definitely read her full blog post on the topic.

For instance, instead of asking "what kind of support can I expect from you?" Barney Finucane, an analyst at The BI Verdict, a vendor-independent BI product selection service, suggested companies should ask vendors if you can look at their technical and support Web sites. This will give you "a good idea of what they might be doing wrong" as well as what they do right, he told Ann.

In another angle on service, Forrester Research analyst Boris Evelson told Ann it's important to ask about a vendor's ability to help you with your overall BI strategies, not just implementing BI products. Why? "Any problems will likely involve integration, support, organizational structure and/or underlying business processes rather than technology. Only experienced consultants can help with those kinds of problems,” he said. It's true that technology tunnel vision can derail BI initiatives -- and plenty of other technology projects as well.


Related Topics : Business Intelligence Vendors, Data Quality, Data Warehousing, Key Performance Indicators, Knowledge Management

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