This is a very interesting question “How much does a BI Project cost?”, and one that many people want the answer to. The standard response from IT is “how long is a piece of string?”, and that is a valid response in many senses. ie how would you know how much it will cost without understanding the detail?
The trouble is that this response doesn’t help anyone. I saw a post on LinkedIn about this very topic, and I thought it was a very good read – hence I am sharing the original blog post by SolidQ here, and I have been prompted to write this post.
The synopsis of the post above is that a BI project costs between $400k and $2m, and the biggest drivers of the cost are the experience of your BI implementation team, and the size of the user community. It is very difficult to estimate the cost, and a project can over run by 100% – 200% quite easily.
From my perspective, there is another layer of important detail to answer this question. A BI Project that uses PowerPivot and DAX will be “orders of magnitude” cheaper than a traditional BI project that uses traditional SQL Server Analysis Services.
The advantage of PowerPivot and DAX is that it is integrated on the desktop (via Excel), and can be used as a prototyping tool to build a BI solution in a much more agile way by actual users of the data. It my view, it is not unreasonable to expect that a PowerPivot BI solution would cost 1/10th of the cost of a traditional BI project. This may mean that the PowerPivot solution is less robust and less automated than a traditional BI solution (not always, but it can be true) and in some cases this may be an issue. But in many other cases, a $40k – $200k project is much more affordable, compelling and ‘fit for purpose’ than traditional BI. Some simple desktop BI solutions using PowerPivot are much cheaper even than this and can be built for as little as $10k with external assistance or can be built without any incremental cost by skilled internal staff (if they have the skill) but that does depend on the length of that string, of course!
What do others think about my ‘order of magnitude’ cost estimates for PowerPivot projects vs Traditional BI?