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Sean Paine, EnterpriseWorxSean Paine, EnterpriseWorx

A BI service provider cannot address all of an organisation’s BI problems. Because BI is a process of building up and using intelligence, the organisation has to develop its own analytical culture that uses BI to help answer questions and underpin decisions. However, a good BI service provider can help fast-track the process of becoming a more analytical and data-driven organisation. And in a competitive environment, businesses that are not data-driven will be left behind.

Selecting an implementation partner that can do justice to a BI strategy requires careful planning and assessment. In selecting a partner, it is important to look out for:

- A partnership approach
Effective BI involves a long-term relationship between the business and the service provider. BI needs to constantly adapt in line with changing business strategy. Therefore, the BI solutions partner should work in partnership with the business to adapt and upgrade the BI strategy in line with business imperatives and changing needs.

- Delivery focused with methodology
Many service providers don’t have a strong implementation methodology. Without clear methodology, the engagement risks are slowed by a long, exploratory exercise instead of delivering quickly and effectively.

- Investment in development
A good BI service provider invests in research and development partnerships in order to keep up the pace of change. They need to have plans in place to meet emerging trends and technologies.

- Effective support systems
Service providers should be equipped to deliver all the necessary support, and the levels of support should be clearly spelt out in the service level agreement. They should state response times, escalations and guaranteed uptime. If the support is not included in the agreement, it will be charged for additionally.

- Driving BI competence
The best BI service providers will help a company grow and mature its BI competency within the organisation. BI is not just about technology, it is a long-term programme to turn the business into one in which decisions are based on facts and all information is shared effectively using BI systems.

About the author: is COO at EnterpriseWorx.