Sold the dream but delivered a nightmare? Questions IT Managers should ask before purchasing business intelligence
Have you ever bought something based on an advertisement, a marketing campaign or a guarantee from a salesperson only to find out that what you were sold was nothing like what was promised?
The truth is, many consumers have been sold a dream but delivered a nightmare. The issue is not only a consumer problem and when it comes to B2B software, the phrase 'buyer beware' may be even more appropriate.
Consider the following scenario of an IT manager overwhelmed with the volume of analytics reporting requests. To assist in the reporting process, the IT manager is considering a business intelligence tool. He does some initial research on solution providers and sends out requests for demos of the different offerings. During one of the product demos, the salesperson promises that the tool will solve all his reporting problems.
The salesperson talks about unlimited access to a support team and other benefits that are tailored to the company’s business needs and network environment. The IT manager is sold on the solution and schedules the deployment. After the product is delivered, the IT manager immediately starts to have problems. The features he was shown in the demo won’t be available until future versions. The support team he needs to communicate with is not available and the integration with other data sources is flawed and costly. Even more common, the software turns out not to be flexible and everytime a new report or change is needed, a consultant from the software vendor is required. It’s clear that the software is over promised and under delivered.
The situation is not uncommon, unfortunately, and if you’re reading this, you likely can relate, or know someone who can. What is promised before you sign on the bottom line is something that needs to be validated.
When it comes to BI software, there are a number of things that can be overpromised, from integration with existing systems, ease-of-use of the product, available Dashboards to access from multiple devices, time savings for the IT team and support.
Ask the right questions
Once companies sign on the bottom line of the BI software agreement, the problems will reveal themselves. Implementation time may take longer than anticipated. You find out that demo features and the mobile version of the software are coming in next year’s product update. The training required is extensive and time-consuming, and because the software is difficult to use, internal teams may revert back to old habits of requesting reports from the IT team. Finally, while access to support was promised, it’s only via email, unless you want to upgrade to a dedicated support line.
So, before you buy the BI software “dream”, consider asking the salesperson the following questions:
- Are all the features you showed in the product demo available today? If not, when will they be available?
- How long will it take to implement the software into my environment?
- Does your product integrate with my current data sources?
- What ongoing support will I receive after implementation?
- What kind of training do you provide my team for using your software?
- What internal resources will I need to maintain the BI tool?
- What are the costs for ongoing support?
- How is the product updated and are there additional costs for upgrades?
- Will I need to hire a consultant to maintain the BI tool?
- Also consider, does this BI vendor know my industry and have a proven track record solving BI challenges for my peers?
Before you invest in the BI dream, it’s important to do your homework to protect you and your company from investing in the wrong BI software provider who will sell the dream but deliver a nightmare.
Ask the right questions and request customer references that can validate claims made during the demo and provide you with first-hand experience of what the software really does and what it's like to use.
Your BI software should make it easier for you to access information you can act on, anytime, anywhere, so you can make better, more informed, data-driven business decisions. If that’s not what you received, then it may be time to walk away from the nightmare.
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