This is the story of how the City of Ann Arbor adopted Apache Superset as its business intelligence (BI) platform. Superset has been a superior product for both creators and consumers of our data dashboards and saves us 94% in costs compared to our prior solution.
As the City of Ann Arbor’s data analyst, I spend a lot of time building charts and dashboards in our business intelligence / data visualization platform. When I started the job in 2021, we were halfway through a contract and I used that existing software as I completed my initial data reporting projects.
After using it for a year, I was feeling its pain points. Building dashboards was a cumbersome and finicky process and my customers wanted more flexible and aesthetically-pleasing results. I began searching for something better.
Being a government entity makes software procurement tricky – we can’t just shop and buy. Our prior BI platform was obtained via a long Request for Proposals (RFP) process. This time I wanted to try out products to make sure they would perform as expected. Will it work with our data warehouse? Can we embed charts in our public-facing webpages?
The desire to try before buying led me to consider open-source options as well as products that we already had access to through existing contracts (i.e., Microsoft Power BI).