How Leasetrack selected Cumul.io after comparing over 20 BI platforms

With a plethora of BI & data visualization tools nowadays, life has become easier for many. You no longer need to be a data scientist to be able to create stunning reports or dashboards. But with this growing amount of tools comes a new challenge. How do you select the right BI platform for your needs?

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack, evaluated 20 to 30 BI tools before selecting Cumul.io as the right solution for Leasetrack. In this article, we’ll share his 5-step framework to assessing and selecting the right BI vendor.

The content in this article was originally presented during the Data Talks 2020 conference. Rewatch the full talk on YouTube: How to evaluate over 20 BI tools for your SaaS and select the right one.

Introduction to Leasetrack

Leasetrack provides a software platform for the real estate industry. They help property managers make sure their residents are in compliance with their insurance. Leasetrack answers simple questions for property managers, such as:

  • Which residents are non-compliant with their insurance?
  • Which insurance policies need attention or have coverage gaps?
  • Are the certificates provided by residents actually valid?

It sounds simple, yet it requires tons of real-time data & complex processing algorithms to do so. As a result, Leasetrack needed a tool that takes all of that complex information, and turns it into something that is easy to understand. In other words, a visual layer on top of their complex backend, with easy reports for both their clients and their internal teams.

Why the need for a visual dashboard?

The reason they looked into a BI tool was two-fold:

  1. Making their own internal teams more efficient
  2. Helping their clients make quicker decisions in handling their insurance

Disclaimer: the dashboards in this post are illustrational. They are in no way an exact representation, and contain dummy data.

First of all, the Leasetrack team needed a way to stay on top of all that insurance and compliance data. The first step was to aggregate all data from their different departments, and gather it in one place. So before making them available to clients, they added visual dashboards to the Leasetrack platform for their own internal use.

“It makes the whole company a lot more efficient. No more emailing around to get a custom report. Anyone can check the latest status in one place, inside our own platform.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

As a next step, they will start offering dashboards for client-facing use as well. All for the same reasons: they want their clients to be able to log in, find the information they need on their own without having to request ad hoc reports.

As a property manager or a resident, you’re at high risk when you’re not compliant with insurance. Costs for any damage can pile up, leaving either the property manager or the resident with a financial disaster. By staying on top of their insurance status, they can make better & faster decisions in case a resident doesn’t comply.

5 steps to comparing & selecting the right BI platform

Before joining Leasetrack, Craig already had extensive experience with all sorts of BI platforms. To find the right match for Leasetrack, he went through a 5-step process that helped him select the right one:

  1. Set your requirements
  2. Compile a list of known & new BI vendors
  3. Research BI platforms online
  4. Use phone calls to create a shortlist
  5. Do free trials of the shortlisted platforms

1. What are your requirements for a BI platform?

Before considering any tool or platform, write down the requirements that are crucial for your business case. This will already help you eliminate a ton of solutions that don’t tick all of the boxes. For Leasetrack, there were 6 main requirements:

  1. Embedded analytics: They needed a solution that could be embedded within their own interface
  2. Scalable: They needed to offer dashboards to an ever growing amount of users, without too much technical implications
  3. Data Connection: They needed a direct connection with their PostgreSQL database
  4. Look & Feel: They wanted a modern look-and-feel to wow their clients
  5. Easy to use: Because the Leasetrack platform is technically complex, they need to focus all their time & effort on the platform. Therefore, it was all the more important to have a BI layer on top that is easy to use and easy to implement.
  6. Support: Because it was a long-term strategic collaboration, they wanted to rely on a responsive vendor and have a good relationship.

2. Create a first list of potential BI vendors

Once the requirements are set in stone, start assembling a list of BI vendors. Craig’s approach was twofold:

  1. List the tools you know, or have used before
  2. Research new tools through online review platforms like G2 or Capterra

“I immediately found that the tools I had heard of, or had used before, were not the right ones for us. I tried to force my way around them but quickly found that they either didn’t support the embedding, or they were too cumbersome to implement. So I moved onto online review sites to find new platforms.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

Reading online reviews proved to be very useful, because users were very clear about their pain points with each tool, and what worked great for them. This helped to make a first list of platforms that had the best fit with their requirements.

Example of review-based comparisons on software review sites

3. Research BI platforms online

Craig ended up with a list of more than 20 BI platforms. Before going into conversation with them, Craig did his proper online research on each of these platforms. By researching their websites & documentation, he mapped out:

  • the features each platform supports;
  • their key advantages;
  • the cost;

Thanks to this research, he already had a good idea of the tools that were out there, and what they support. This will prove to be super helpful in the next step of the process: narrow down the list of 20 tools to a shortlist of 3.

4. Compare BI vendors through demos & phone calls

Taking demo’s and calls with over 20 vendors is time-consuming. Let alone starting a trial for each of them. So before spending too much time on trials or demos, Craig took advantage of short phone calls to clarify each vendor’s worth:

“Because I had already done a lot of research, I could jump on quick 10-minute phone calls and ask very targeted questions. This allowed me to rule out a bunch of vendors that weren’t a match, without wasting too much time on long demo calls or trials.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

5. Compare BI platforms using free trials

This tactic allowed him to narrow down from +20 to only 3 platforms, eliminating tools based on how well they matched their initial requirements. At this point, Craig leveraged the free trials. Through these trials, he could easily assess if each vendor actually “walked the talk”.

“Trials are super useful. Simply connect your own data and try to beat the system. I advise anyone to replicate real scenarios for which you would use the platform, and replicate as many of those as you can. I found this to be the best way to find out if the tool does what I want it to do. And this made the decision so much easier.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

Why Leasetrack selected Cumul.io as their BI partner

Eventually, Cumul.io was a great fit for their use case for 3 reasons:

  1. Best match with the embedding use case
  2. Biggest time savings thanks to its ease of use
  3. Best support & onboarding program

Because their core business is complex, their analytics layer needed to be anything but that. In the end, the amount of time they saved in development is what really set Cumul.io apart from other tools:

“During the free trial, we were able to create a dashboard & embed it into our platform as of day 1. The visuals looked really clean and modern, and the fact that everything is done with an easy one-step process really knocked it out of the park, compared to other tools.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

In addition, because the reports would also be client-facing, this was a long-term decision. Therefore, a good relationship with their embedded BI partner was crucial. Thanks to Cumul.io’s Joint Execution Program (JEP), this long-term choice was made easier & less of a risk.

The JEP program is a special onboarding program of 2 months, which allowed Leasetrack to fully get their integrated dashboards in production with additional support of the Cumul.io team. This proof of concept allowed them to get started without making a long-term commitment right away. Additionally, this program was free for them, since they eventually decided to move forward with Cumul.io:

“With this special onboarding program, we got additional support and advice from the Cumul.io team during our implementation process. This was a really interesting formula I hadn’t seen elsewhere. Throughout the program, Cumul.io once more proved to be the right fit for us.”

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

The implementation & next steps

Today, a couple of months after the JEP program, the dashboards are live in the Leasetrack platform for all internal users. Every colleague can log in, view real-time data and understand what’s happening across different departments.

They are using scheduled emails to alert the team on a daily basis. So when something looks off, everyone is up-to-date and they can start resolving any issues as soon as they walk into the office.

Disclaimer: the dashboards in this post are illustrational. They are in no way an exact representation, and contain fake data.

As a next step, their client-facing dashboards are currently in the works:

“We are getting ready to roll out our dashboards to clients soon, which will be a tremendous value-add to our platform. We can’t wait to roll them out! It’s a big step for us, exactly because they are client-facing, so we want to ensure that everything is perfectly in place. “

Craig DeBono, Business Intelligence Analyst at Leasetrack

Do you want to see what client-facing dashboards could look like inside your own SaaS platform? Play around with our free sample app, or request a demo with our product experts.

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