Meet with Data Warehousing Representatives

By Thomas C. Hammergren

Shopping around for data warehousing products can include meetings with company reps. Before a vendor sales representative sets foot inside your office or initiates a Web conference with you, make absolutely clear what you expect to cover during that one- or two-hour initial meeting. You should do at least the following:

  • Hear a presentation of no more than ten minutes about the company’s history and background, as well as the background of the products you’re discussing.

  • See an initial, end-to-end (or as close as possible) demonstration of a product’s capabilities. The demonstration should last no more than a half-hour.

  • Have a list of specific questions that cover features and capabilities, product installation base (how many copies have been sold and used and at how many companies), new version enhancements and features, and product architecture (interfaces, different platforms supported and differences across platforms, and scalability).

    Again, make these questions specific to your environment and data warehousing project.

During discussions before the vendor meeting, give some, but not all, of the questions to the vendor representative. State that those items are important to you and that you want to discuss them during your meeting.

You can gauge vendor responsiveness by how well the representative answers your prepared questions and also compare those answers to the responses that he or she gives to your impromptu questions. With the latter, you can gauge how well vendors know their own products and how well they react to unanticipated questions and challenges (rather than just hear scripted responses).