Query: : Are you road testing your BI vendor’s roadmap?
Answer: One of the most common causes of failed BI implementations and other poor outcomes is the lack of time the buyer spends delving into the vendor’s product roadmap. You’re not just picking a product; you’re making an investment. And the BI vendor’s roadmap can provide critical insights into the long-term fit with your organization’s requirements.
Here are some misperceptions and tips on evaluating your BI vendor’s product roadmap.
- “It’s not like we’re getting married.” Yes, it is. (In fact, that’s probably why both software and marriage require a license.) BI software is a significant investment that warrants more upfront examination than many buyers do—to their eventual regret.You’re not just buying what the product offers today—you’re buying what that product will become. There has to be a fit with your long-term needs and requirements–beyond the RFP/checklist phase, which usually represents your current situation. A deep dive into their product roadmap is the key to understanding whether you and the vendor are heading in the same direction.
- “Vendor product roadmaps don’t mean much.” That’s besides the point. It is true that there are legal and practical limits to how much visibility vendors provide. And yes, roadmaps are sometimes dismissed as simply sales tools, rather than accurate long-term forecasts.But product roadmaps—and your deep-dive discussions with vendors about them—will provide critical insights into their understanding of the market and where it is headed, as well as the degree to which they view the world through their customers’ eyes.
- “They emailed me a copy of their roadmap.” Not good enough. The product roadmap is so critical to the long-term success of your BI initiative that it warrants a series of face-to-face meetings where your technical and business teams can interface with the vendor’s R&D and product management executives. This is the stage where buyers should over-invest–not skimp—their time.
- “It’s SaaS, not traditional software, so the roadmap is less important.” Not true. SaaS or cloud-based BI solutions may not require as much upfront money and time, but the long-term implications of the buying decision are the same, as are the performance and outcomes.In fact, in addition to understanding the vendor’s long-term features and capabilities, SaaS solutions require a significant level of due diligence on the vendor’s underlying technology and infrastructure roadmap for factors such as uptime, security and redundancy.
Overall, Qlarion has seen many examples of buyers taking too much of a “check the box” approach to examining vendors’ product roadmaps. In reality, discussions with your prospective BI vendor regarding their vision and product plans are where you should be over-investing in due diligence.
While your needs and the vendor’s roadmap may evolve after your initial implementation, you still need to understand where they’re heading and how those plans align with where you believe your organization will be.