Finding the right business intelligence (BI) solution to embed in your software is often difficult. With so many options on the market, knowing which choice is best can overwhelm even the most experienced software professional.
Depending on the customization options and specific tools you want, there are certain features you’ll be looking for. But a solution’s cons are just as important as its pros: they’re important warning signs that you may not be getting what you need.
Here are five major red flags you’ll want to avoid when picking an embedded BI tool. If you see any of these while evaluating a vendor, you may want to proceed with caution or pursue a different vendor entirely.
1. No free trial period
The opportunity to take embedded BI tools for a spin and see how they work with your business and software is essential to making a purchasing decision.
If a vendor is insisting you pay before trying the tool out, it may be a scam and not worth your time or money. It’s also just not a good investment, since you’ll be going in blind and unable to verify exactly what you’re getting.
A free trial period is especially important if you’re not sure exactly what you want a new tool to do. For example, if you’re looking to add dashboards or analytics to your software but aren’t sure of the specific features that’ll work best for you and your customers, the free trial gives you a chance to experiment and see what you’ll need.
2. Limited customer support
Arguably the most important part of any software solution or tool is the support you’ll receive from the vendor. You want to know that it’ll be reliable if anything goes wrong and that you won’t be stuck waiting for weeks for someone to get back to you.
Look for companies that’ll have a dedicated representative you can contact about the solution to ensure you’re getting the most bang for your buck. If the vendor you’re looking at doesn’t assign each client a customer support manager or other representative, there should at least be thorough and detailed documentation and guidance that can help your developers along the way.
Onboarding support is important for embedded BI as well. When embedding a new tool or feature into your existing software, there are many opportunities to misstep. To make sure nothing goes wrong during the integration and onboarding process, work with a vendor who will see you through it all—from the trial period all the way through integration.
3. Limited ability to customize
You’ll want to be able to customize the dashboard and reports and tailor the embedded visualizations to match your own software. Any embedded tool you choose should allow you to create dashboards and reports however you want them, since there’s no predicting what you may need down the line.
Being stuck with run-of-the-mill report templates and visuals isn’t what any company wants, so it’s important that your vendor offer the ability to edit and change parts of the tool.
4. Poor usability
Any tool you embed should also be user friendly. You don’t want to have to rely on your IT department to fix everything or guide workers through the basics of using reports and dashboards. Other employees, even if they’re not as tech savvy, should be able to use the tool without reading a hefty handbook.
This is where a free trial comes in handy again. You’ll have the chance to see how the tool works, what it could potentially look like in your software, and how to use it properly. Trying before you buy helps you see what you’ll be getting beforehand and gives you a chance to prepare for how it’ll be implemented.
5. Limited integrations
Good embedded BI tools will offer a range of data integration options to combine information from a variety of sources. Whatever tools you embed should work with all of your systems and sources, accommodating both structured and unstructured data.
An embedded BI tool is only as good as its ability to integrate with your software and systems, so look out for any tools that don’t offer various integration options. You’ll want the tool to be as versatile as possible to help ensure that you’ll be able to add any new sources you acquire as your company scales.
Integration success is another aspect of usability as well. If a tool can’t be used with multiple data sources, or it requires a lot of tinkering to work with a variety of systems, it might not be the right fit for your software or users.
Embedded BI tools are meant to make your software as competitive and effective as possible. Having to struggle with a new tool to make it work is a waste of time and has the opposite effect. You want something easy to implement that will help drive sales, increase customer satisfaction, and reduce churn.
When looking to add a new feature or embedded BI tool to your software, beware of these pitfalls that could slow you down or leave your company in the lurch.
About the Author
Kelsy Ketchum is an editor for Better Buys, helping companies find and select the right software solution. She also writes about medical coding, human resources, and safety compliance for other publications.