There are four primary items to consider when selecting the best analytics software: required features, future plans, operating system, and budget. Analytics software has experienced a huge growth in popularity that is expected to continue to grow. The purpose of all analytics software programs is to provide the tools necessary to review programming or transaction details in a structured way.
Generally, there are two types of analytics software products: programming and transactional data. Programming analysis is the process of reviewing the actual code and system architecture. This type of software is used to evaluate the efficiency of the current program and explore the options available for expansion or changes in process. Typically, this type of software is used by system or business analysts to help in process definition.
Transactional analytics software is used by business and financial analysts to identify patterns and trends within large data sets. He or she typically must have skills in data management, statistics, advanced math, and related subjects to manage this process. The implementation and management of this type of software is a special skill that usually requires vendor-specific training.
To select the best analytics software product, the first step is to document your requirements. Make a list of all the features that the program must have, as well as a list of the features that would be nice to have. This list of requirements will be referred to many times throughout the selection process.
Look at the current analysis process and think about functions that are not possible with the current tool but are required by the business. A limitations list is a great way to identify work-around or inefficient business processes that could be eliminated or improved with a different solution. Look forward five years and think about the types of tools that will be required to manage the business within that time frame.
All software programs are designed to work with specific operating systems. Make sure to check the operating system that the analytics software will be required to work on, and ensure that the short-listed solutions are all compatible. Talk with the technical staff early on in the process to learn about the options, limitations, and other demands in this area. Any solution selected usually will require support from technical services to be successfully implemented.
Budget is a limitation that is central to all business decisions. Talk with the financial-services staff and senior management to determine how much is available for this initiative. Keep in mind that many firms start with a pilot project on a limited budget as a proof of concept. All major analytics software firms are familiar with the process, and usually will be happy to provide pricing for this type of implementation. It can be important, however, to also obtain five- and ten-year pricing for a full implementation so that the business owners can make a sound decision.