Choosing which business intelligence application is best for an organization is not an easy task. By best BI application, I mean the software product(s) that provide the greatest user satisfaction with respect to functionality, technical architecture and cost. Understanding, assessing and reviewing which applications are available and appropriate for the needs of the organization can be time-consuming. DM Review magazine lists more than 550 companies that offer BI applications, and it’s a good place to start. After narrowing the list of BI vendors and products, an organization must establish its functional requirements and define the cost associated with implementing a BI application. We have seen several approaches to selecting software applications and several different, corresponding results.

We often encounter organizations that do not conduct a formal software selection process when choosing their BI application. Unfortunately, more often than not, this approach fails to produce the desired results. Many times an organization will simply assign this task to a business manager in addition to that person’s regular duties. Other times, the IS department will manage the software selection process, and often the software selected is based upon a vendor demonstration. In this situation, the vendor with the best demonstration, or possibly the best sales person, typically wins the bid. An organization may find that it has purchased inappropriate software because it did not focus adequate resources such as time and money on the selection project.

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