What Should Companies Consider Before Investing in a BI Solution?

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The following is a lightly edited transcript of a reply I posted to a question asked on the LinkedIn.com Business Intelligence Group. This was entitled What should companies consider before investing in a BI solution?.

I suggest some of the following:

  1. What business problems would a BI solution address?
  2. Within these, what questions do people want to ask and what action will the answers lead to?
  3. Why can’t these people get the answers today, or – if they can – what is wrong with them (incomplete, inaccurate, not detailed enough etc.)?
  4. What is the business impact of the lack of these answers (poor decision-making, missed opportunities, inefficient processes, poor monitoring, lack of tools to manage people’s performance)?
  5. If these questions were to be answered, broadly speaking, which different data sources would need to be brought together (assess different country / divisional systems and different types of systems – sales, Finance, manufacturing, distribution, marketing, complaints, external data, others)?
  6. How aligned are the various different elements within these (e.g. customer records, products, territories etc.)?
  7. To what level is the data required to answer the questions identified above captured (are there gaps and does new data need to be entered)?
  8. How accurate is this data (does it actually reflect business events)?
  9. What is the overall quantity of both historical and current data that needs to be looked at and how much of this regularly changes?
  10. How frequently will users need to ask questions and how up-to-date does the answer need to be?

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