We’re in the business of data collection and analysis. We are not in the business of creating an amazing BI solution on a bootstrapped budget. It’s time to white label (integrate a third parties software into our product) the best solution we can, and this is one massive vendor selection process. Whatever we choose, we’re locked into for the next few years and a mistake here will haunt us. This is one of the largest scaling costs on our forecasts, so its time to pick a vendor and negotiate a three year contract based on multiple scenarios that take into account possible pivots and transitions.
As a consultant, I participated in a number of BI vendor selection projects for Fortune 500 clients. The first phase was all about features and functionality. Can this product do what we need it to do? Yes, the answer was always yes and each BI suite absolutely could. However, usability and ease of integrating the products into a tangled web of corporate infrastructure, that’s where it got sticky, La Brea tar pit sticky. The less inclined a client was to do a deep vendor evaluation, the more likely they had poor infrastructure, tremendous amounts of shelfware, duct-taped legacy systems and weak IT governance. Thus, the more important it was to make sure we could integrate the solution, as we were typically in line to design and build it.
Once the initial criteria was determined and the short-list of potential vendors narrowed, the products rarely won due to features and price. They won based on how well the vendor managed the relationship. This is not a bad thing, if you’re corporate, the right relationship will result in exceptional support and access to the best developers and resources to help make your solution a success. If you’re white labeling it like us, it means everything as your BI partner becomes your go-to-market partner.
Our BI Vendor Selection Process:
- Step 1: Build a partner selection matrix that captures key criteria at a high level
- Step 2: Determine our basic high level requirements and identify all of the vendors that meet them
- Step 3: Research, research, research – validate your assumptions
- Step 4: Begin developing a relationship with each vendor
- Step 5: Demo’s, Pricing, Negotiations, Insanity
- Step 6: Deep dive into final contenders, including experimenting with the API’s
- Step 7: Final negotiations
- Step 8: Take over the world!