Luxury or lemon: how to tell the difference between good and not-so-good reporting vendors

Posted on August 18th 2015

In the auto world, performance is important. It’s no different with data reporting, but in today’s crowded field of business intelligence (BI) vendors there are bound to be some “lemons” out there.

So how do you tell the difference?

First of all, beware of luxury-looking cars with budget engines. In other words, pay attention to the back-end of the software you’re considering, not just the front-end. Some BI providers we’ve seen have great looking “luxury” interfaces with complicated interfaces and dashboards, but get down to it and the actual reporting and data analysis performance is lacking.

For example, if your system is hosted, ask about bandwidth or storage limits. Find out the average speed of running a report. Implement a trial with your own data before purchasing if you can.

Ask how long the solution provider been in business? New BI vendors are popping up every day as both little startups and big, VC-backed corporations. Be wary of businesses without a solid reputation; it may come back to bite you. Pay attention to review sites like IT Central and TrustRadius. If the system is hosted, ask what happens to your stored data if they go out of business.

Ask about customer service. Undoubtedly, you or other users are going to want some training or assistance from the BI vendors during and after implementation – especially if it’s a big, complicated system. Ask if you’ll have a dedicated support representative to assist you if needed and how you will be able to contact them. There’s nothing worse than needing help and no one seems to be around in the customer support department.

If you’ve already purchased and implemented a reporting solution, figure out your ROI. How much time have your IT dept. and end users saved? What other resources have been saved? Are there business insights that the software has allowed you to gain that you can put into dollar amounts? Compare these amounts to the software purchase price for the year, quarter, etc., and find out if you bought a winner or a dud.

Ready to evaluate a new reporting vendor? Give Entrinsik Informer a test drive with a free, no-obligation 30-day trial.

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