With customers clamoring for better reporting and competitive pressures mounting every quarter, companies sometimes find themselves committing to embedded BI before they’re ready to actually implement it.
Which might not seem so bad at first. What could be the harm in holding on to a license they plan to use later?
Well, the most obvious drawback is cost, but there are other pitfalls, too. Whatever market pressures inspired the BI purchase in the first place will continue to build during delays. Customers may desert, especially if their expectations are mismanaged.
Delaying a project also drains its momentum, and the longer the delay, the more opportunity there is for roadblocks to emerge. Project managers who evaluated the BI solution could move on to different roles or leave their companies altogether. Host applications could evolve away from the BI solution they were meant to integrate with if developers don’t keep the the BI specs in mind.
If circumstances change enough, companies might even go so far as to break their BI contract, incurring legal expenses in the process.
We suggest following these three tips to avoid getting stymied between licensing and deployment.
Stock up on resources.
Before you license with an embedded BI vendor, make sure you have the human resources, fiscal resources, and time to implement and deploy the solution directly after purchase. If you find you’re short on any one of these, make sure you have a way of compensating for the deficiency. Many BI vendors (Exago included) offer implementation services designed to support your development team through the process and provide product-specific expertise.
Have a contingency plan ready for high-priority fires.
Implementing your BI solution should be a high priority at the time of contract signing. (If it isn’t, you’re already in for some delay.) But it can be hard to control for customer emergencies, contractual obligations, and other high-priority fires that may arise during the planned implementation period.
Our advice: expect the unexpected; have a contingency plan. Devise a system by which resources can be reallocated as needed without causing the implementation project to derail. This may mean having additional help on standby or having a full-stack developer dedicated solely to the project. As long as the system is robust enough to handle possible distractions, however improbable, your company will have a better chance of avoiding the post-licensing slump.
Prep your data, check it twice.
Unless you plan to report directly off of transactional data (uncommon, but sometimes necessary), you’ll need to put your data through some type of processing so that it is intelligible, consistent, easy to navigate, and reflective of the client company’s business logic.
Many companies choose to do this by building a data warehouse. Data warehouses can take several months to over a year to construct, so it’s generally a good idea to get a head start on this process before signing a BI contract.
Some solutions, however, allow you to hit the ground running even while your warehouse is under construction. Exago BI enables users to report off of non-traditional data sources like stored procedures, web services, and .NET assemblies, all of which can be used to transform transactional data on the fly. These programmable data objects serve as an interim solution for any company looking to fast-track their BI implementation while a permanent data management structure is being put in place. This is just one way to help ensure that data preparation doesn’t stymie your implementation plans!