Five: The Challenge of Vendor Support

Five: The Challenge of Vendor Support

The fourth part has taught us the importance of checking scalability and how it can be a challenge when it comes to embedded reporting.

Vendors promise the moon when selling an embedded reporting solution to partners, and almost all vendors will guarantee that they offer best-in-class support. Unfortunately, it is difficult to evaluate just how effective that support will be until it is needed.

To help mitigate against issues, you must ask:

  • What type of support will the vendor supply? Do smaller organizations have access to that support, or are they relegated to the basic customer service team? Many vendors operate on a pay-to-play scale, were only those who purchase the most expensive features have unlimited access to support teams.
  • What influence will you have in development? Will your requests be acted upon by the vendor’s team or will you be stuck inside a user group that runs requests up the flagpole, only to wonder if they will be implemented?
  • Will users be able to contact the vendor to solve issues, or do you need to establish a single point of contact within the organization to deal with the vendor one-on-one?
  • Do your vendor’s SLAs with you align with your SLAs to your customers? If they don’t, you could be setting yourself up for steep financial penalties for missed targets.

What Exactly Are You Trying to Do?

When it comes to embedded reporting features, you must begin with the end in mind. What, exactly will you be using the feature for? Where, on the five levels of engagement will your reports fall? Will the feature be used for robust reporting, or simply standard reporting? Who will get to access what?

The Five Levels of Engagement in Embedded BI Tools:

  1. Static Reporting – An embedded report library.
  2. Managed Reporting – Limited user interactivity and customization.
  3. Highly Interactive Reporting – Users utilize dashboards and reports.
  4. Self-Service Reporting – Ad-hoc reporting and data analysis.
  5. Advanced Reporting – High-level analytics functions

If you do not take the time to examine exactly what users need and want from the feature, the chances of failure are almost 100 percent. Decision makers and IT teams may have long wish lists but tight budgets, or, conversely, they may feel they need to work with the shiniest new toy on the shelf. While budget and features should be taken into consideration, the number one factor that should influence a decision is the need of the user. Next, we discuss how to find a tool that can overcome these challenges.

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