When BI industry expert Kevin Smith appeared on Data Talks last month, I asked him the same thing I ask all my guests: what do you now know about buying BI that you wish you’d known back when you were just beginning your search?
Kevin’s answer stood out, and not so much because of what he said as how he said it.
“The first couple of times I went through and evaluated data platforms,” Kevin recounts, “I spent too much time on the technical aspects of the decision…and not enough time on what I call the management ecosystem.”
I later learned that Kevin’s “management ecosystem” refers to all admin-level concerns, things like utilization tracking, onboarding, version control, and connecting to data sources—everything but the analytics and reporting features themselves.
This isn’t exactly a groundbreaking concept. Prospects routinely ask our sales team about admin-level concerns, especially those surrounding data source integration. But by referring to these concerns as an ecosystem, Kevin got me thinking about what it takes to sustain a product, to “keep it running out there in the world.” It’s so easy to get caught up in the minutiae of a solution’s core features and obsess over the end user’s experience when the admin’s experience matters just as much. Healthy ecosystems are sustainable ecosystems, so a sustainable management ecosystem is one that won’t result in admin burnout one, five, or ten years down the line.
Exago BI won G2 Crowd’s “Easiest Admin” award last year, and we’re proud of that distinction, but we still encourage prospective partners to ask admin-level questions so both parties can assess fit. Here’s a list of questions you can ask on a product demo to learn more about what it takes to maintain the given solution once it has gone to market.
1. How easy is it to add new data sources, data objects, and/or data fields?
2. Will I ever have to force updates on end users?
3. How backward compatible are your major releases?
4. How does your support team handle questions, issues, and feature requests?
5. What will I have to do to onboard new clients?
6. How will you help me develop product training materials and curricula?
7. How would I set up a demo instance for prospective customers?
8. How would I track utilization of the product?
9. How would I track the product’s performance as we scale?
10. What percentage of the product’s features are configurable by the admin?
11. How extensible is the product? What add-ons can my team build without assistance?
12. How easy will it be to localize the software when we acquire new international clients?
13. When do you sunset support for legacy versions of the product?
14. Do you offer on-site support in the event we require hands-on assistance?
15. How easy is it to submit debug information to your support team?
What are your favorite admin-level questions? If we missed any, let us know in the comments!