Don’t Start Your Business Intelligence RFP Until You Know These 7 Things

by | Jun 20, 2016 | General BI

Reading Time: 4 minutes

business intelligence rfpImagine going through all the work of buying a business intelligence platform only to find that it doesn’t meet your needs and is ultimately a failed implementation. Unfortunately, this isn’t too far-fetched of a scenario. By some estimates, up to 80% of all BI projects fail. Don’t be one of those statistics.

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To ensure that your BI project will be a success, put in some leg work ahead of time during the RFP process. Here are 7 things you should think about as you’re composing your business intelligence RFP to ensure that the end result (your BI implementation) is exactly what you want and can get your organization the results it needs.

1. Know the different BI products

It’s important to know the different business intelligence vendors and products so you can narrow the list to those that best suit your organization’s needs. (Tip: The Wisdom of Crowds Business Intelligence Market Study has the low down on 28 different BI vendors.) Look beyond just the big names, as their solutions aren’t always ideal for your specifications. Seek out those vendors who are committed to customer success, as well as those that have a vertical focus in your industry.

2. Know who the decision makers are

With an average of 5.4 decision makers for a software purchase (Source: CEB), odds are that you’ll have to weigh multiple priorities when you’re buying BI. Determine at the outset who the decision makers are, and together determine your requirements. That way, you’ll know where to focus your search and you will reduce the potential for delays down the road.

3. Understand the difference between an RFI and an RFP

An RFI is a request for information, while an RFP is a request for proposal. With an RFI, you are asking vendors if their products meet certain specifications. It is a broader “fact finding” mission and is less time intensive than an RFP is. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices from the RFI then you should send out the RFP to a smaller selection of vendors that initially meet your needs.

4. Determine the scope of the project

Before you send out your RFP, it’s best to figure out which departments and facilities are going to use business intelligence. Will you be using it just for finance? Or just for sales? Or will it be an enterprise-wide implementation? Define the problems you want to solve. Once you’ve defined them, you can naturally narrow down your choices of BI vendors to those that are the best fits.

5. Understand your metrics for success

How are you planning to measure the success of your business intelligence implementation? Are there certain steps along the way that you are planning to measure progress? Determine these during the discovery phase so that you can craft your RFP questions to ensure that vendors are able to adhere to your requirements.

6. Assess your technology resources

It’s important to know what technology you have in place and how your business intelligence solution will fit into that. From which data sources will you be extracting information? Are you looking for an on-premises solution or a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution? Do you need a mobile layer? Knowing the answers to these questions will help you figure out how business intelligence factors into your technology mix.

7. Make sure you’re committed

The discovery phase is a good time to gauge how committed your organization is to a business intelligence project, both from a time and resources perspective and from a budget perspective. Many BI projects get delayed before a vendor is ever selected, which is a drain on your time and on vendors’ time. Make sure before you send out the RFP that your organization is committed to the investment in a business intelligence solution.

Learn more about assembling a business intelligence RFP

Ensure you’re on the right page when it comes to your business intelligence RFP. Download our new resource guide to ensure that you know all you need to about the process. You’ll learn what you need to consider before, during, and after sending out your RFP.

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