Questions to Ask Your Business Analytics Provider
There are many business analytics solutions on the market today. All are dependent on properly accessing the underlying Data Architecture of the enterprise. Unless you are looking at single system reporting, data warehousing should be part of the consideration of picking a business analytics provider.
Most often the foundation for the movement of data and analytics remains the Data Warehouse. Traditional extracts of data from multiple transactional systems still dominate how data is modeled for analysis, even though the trend shows a movement toward techniques like message brokering and middleware to acquire new types of data.
With the addition of large data generators like Weblogs, website activity, customer profiles and sentiment, purchase history, Images and Videos, Social Media and Machine Data to the big data stream to the Data Warehouse, many organizations are placing more importance on the price to build an effective Data Architecture. Many consulting firms offer solid solutions, but charge enormous sums of money. Smart companies have been able to find ways to implement good solutions at reduced costs, sometimes greatly reduced.
Below are some good questions to ask the solution implementers being considered for a project in your organization:
1. Do you have data models pre-created for my vertical industry?
Creating data architecture from scratch is time-consuming and laborious, which translates into added expenditure for you. If your business analytics provider has pre-built data architecture for analytics, reporting and forecasting, you’ll be able to accelerate the project timeline – sometimes significantly.
2. What proof can you provide about your track record?
mcaConnect estimates that we reduce project time by about 60%. A decade ago, a traditional production ready project from one ERP/ MRP module took a year. Recently, that time has been reduced to an average of 4 months. We do the same thing in 8 weeks on average using pre-built extract code, formulas and calculations for analytics. Pre-build extraction code needs to exist for specific ERP/ MRP platforms. If your business analytics provider doesn’t know their numbers, they probably haven’t been doing it long enough.
3. How do you build in knowledge transfer?
What happens when the implementer you’ve chosen completes the project and moves on? The original architects and developers of your system move on too, or change companies. Far too often, these environments are so sophisticated and complex that no one other than the original builders can understand how the data is being extracted and modeled. What happens when something changes or when you want to validate how you arrived at the result? Mca believes the solution lies in using an implementer who will be able to build your solution in simple building blocks so that all data transformation along the value stream can be easily tracked and understood as companies take ownership of maintaining their own environments.
4. Where do you set up your data warehousing environments?
The use of different technology platforms already owned by your company should not be a problem to a good implementer, since Data Modeling remains one of the few generic components in the IT environment. Experienced consulting firms typically implement the same solution on alternative platforms. The use of proven new technology may help in the cost of ownership, too. Using large cloud infrastructure like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure for consolidation of data and for Disaster Recover/ redundancy can save large amounts of otherwise costly on-site equipment and personnel to manage it. Good implementers usually have experience in the benefits of such an architecture, and will be able to show the differences in cost for different alternatives.
5. How do you assure yourself of success for the price originally negotiated?
Good implementers typically are not insecure about providing some level of guarantee to their work. Ask them to price the solution with accountability to documented deliverables in the contract. Consulting firms with mostly capable resources will happily do so, as well as accept some accountability for running out of project time or hours. A good consulting firm usually won’t push back.
Through Business Intelligence Dashboards and Reports, sophisticated analytics enable almost immediate examination of multiple aspects of any business, enabling smart enterprises to focus on business improvement in multiple areas. Whether unconventional or simple metrics are being analyzed, or operational planning and forecasting is being used, the value of Analytics has proved itself for almost 20 years in the mainstream.
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