We get this question a lot. SaaS companies are usually shopping for BI on a deadline, and some come to us with a target deployment date of “yesterday.” They’re struggling under the weight of a long-overdue transition and desperately seeking a solution that will get them to market with the least amount of effort in the shortest time possible.
But embedded BI implementation timelines vary widely from case to case and hinge on dozens of variables, like security requirements and the size, type, and number of data sources. So when companies ask about implementation time, and we say “it depends,” we’re not being evasive — we really can’t give a concrete answer. Our deployment plan omits time markers for that very reason.
In 2017, we surveyed customers to find out how long it took them to implement Exago BI, and the results confirmed that roadmaps based on a company’s unique requirements will yield a more accurate timeline estimation than one derived from a statistical mean.
So instead of trying to come up with one discrete number, which would be about as easy as nailing jello to a tree, we’re going to examine how each step of the BI implementation timeline can be more or less involved depending on your context. Below is a breakdown of our implementation timeline’s fifteen steps, color-coded by track.
- Onboarding Call: The duration of this call does not vary. Our Customer Success agents will welcome you to Exago, review the BI implementation timeline, and make sure you have access to all necessary resources, including Knowledge Base access, Customer Support credentials, our Go-to-Market and Deployment Kit, video library, and Services contact information.
- Planning Call: This can run long if you completed your Exago BI product evaluation hastily or don’t yet have someone running point on the implementation project. Familiarize your team with product to speed through this step.
- Tech Training: This step can take more or less time depending on your development team’s goals and involvement in the product evaluation process. Teams with less product experience and more complex setup and/or data modeling objectives will likely benefit from some training hours with the Exago Services team.
- List Required Data Objects: This step asks you to identify which data objects you plan to expose to end users and is listed as a discrete step to help data integration go more smoothly later. Give some thought to this as you complete your evaluation.
- API Integration: This, depending on the complexity of your code, can take as little as a few hours but shouldn’t take more than a day or two maximum. How much of the session you’re setting through the API, the number of session-specific adjustments you’re making, and the complexity of your user permissions will all impact how long this step takes.
- Visual Integration: It only takes half an hour to do a baseline visual integration using the Exago theme maker, which replaces the application’s blue accents with a color of your choosing. Many companies, however, prefer to take advantage of Exago BI’s modular UI and open CSS by completely changing the look and feel of the application. Such customized integrations will necessarily require more time. Most of that time will go to planning; the integration itself will go quickly once you know what you’d like to achieve.
- Folder Management: It will be more efficient to implement folder management if you have a clear idea of where and how user permissions should exist the day you go to set it up. Following the steps outlined in documentation, this process will typically take about one day.
- Data Object Definitions: Configuring data objects is usually the most involved step in the integration process. Many companies choose to expose hundreds of objects to their users and have to plan how they will denormalize, alias, secure, and tenant those objects before defining them in Exago BI’s configuration. This step is worth your extra time and attention: the cleaner your data, the more efficient and usable your implementation will be.
- Multi-Tenant & Security: This is part of data preparation, but it also includes server permissioning and securing configuration files. These latter tasks take only moments to complete, but complex tenanting models can take a while to design and implement.
- Specs for Default Reports Finalized: Which reports and dashboards will your customers be excited to see in their libraries when you roll out? Getting a clear picture of what those might look like will expedite this step.
- End User Training: As an Exago client, you have access to a host of training materials, including documentation, vidos, our Support Lab series, and blog articles. Some companies forward those directly on to end users while others recreate them using their own branding and nomenclature. You have the option of having Services host one or more training sessions for end users but might also implement an ongoing training program in house. In general, the more customized your training program, the longer it will take to deploy.
- Report Design Assistance: Services will assist in building your report library. The clearer your specifications, the more quickly they’ll be able to deliver the reports you require.
- Release Communications: Loop your marketing team in on deployment plans early so they can have their release materials ready by this stage of the BI implementation timeline. Exago provides boilerplate templates as part of the Go-to-Market and Deployment Kit to help you hit the ground running.
- Default Reports Finalized: This is usually done on a minutes-long call. Finalizing reports is just an administrative check and doesn’t vary in length.
- Pre-Deployment and Review: This is another administrative check completed on a minutes-long call.
If there’s one thing you take away from this post, let it be this: data preparation forms the bedrock of your BI implementation. It impacts almost every other step of the process and can have a dramatic impact on how long it takes to deploy an embedded BI application. ETL is a powerful data preparation technique worth exploring, and we invite you to learn more about its benefits in An Introduction to ETL Data Transformations.
Remember also that a deployment can be just as successful completed in stages as delivered all at once. If your projected timeline looks like it will conflict with your target release date, consider switching to a phased BI rollout rather than rushing the deployment process. Your Services representative and Customer Success Manager will help revise your BI implementation timeline and goals.