Most programming languages you can go out and learn, but it occurs to me that a QlikView developer is something you have to be. By that I mean that you have to have skills in a large number of areas – and a failing in one can negate brilliance in another. On a number of occasions I have been asked to assist with the recruiting of a QlikView developer and would like to share my thoughts here.
As this is what some people think the extent of the requirements are it is where I shall start. Solid skills in this area are a must as the QlikView developer needs to code in four or five different languages at practically the same time. You have the load script syntax, SQL statements (in various flavours), QlikView expressions, Set Analysis and then VBA if you require macros or advanced automation. Whilst it is true that a good SQL knowledge will get you through the load script and those with good Excel skills will find no fear in expressions; it is the ability to do all at once that is vital. The discipline to work in a case sensitive environment and vision to devise solutions to problems where the standard methods do not deliver are also essential.
This seems so obvious that it shouldn’t be necessary to mention. However I have seen many examples of QlikView documents where the data simply hasn’t been understood. Classic mistakes include summing percentages and incorrect chart choice (often a data understanding issue rather than a design one). A degree in maths or statistics is not necessarily required – just a good understanding of (and respect for) the rules of data.
Understanding the Business
For a QlikView document (or suite of documents) to be of maximum use to a business it should present insight from every area of that business. This requires the QlikView developer to have a real understanding of the business and the processes that make it happen. Even if the developer is not the analyst (but in my experience they often are) to translate the requirements into inspired visualizations takes some level of knowledge.
Experience Across Companies
Someone who has been in a job for some time will know that organisation well (ticking the box above) but this can lead to a tendency not to think outside the box. All to often I am asked to replicate existing Crystal or Excel reports for a client as “that is what we always report”. Being able to provide real world examples from how other organisations do things allows organisations to break the mould – allowing business discovery to occur.
Also there is a massive difference in what is important to people in different types of businesses. Only experience in many vertical markets can equip the QlikView developer to know what is likely to be required on any particular dashboard they create.
There are a number of development best practices that can make a massive impact on the performance and usability of a QlikView document. These range from data model design principles, coding standards and interface design rules. The QlikView developer needs to keep up with all these best practices in order to stay on top of their game.
The Ability to Ask
This again sounds like an obvious one – but again I think it is worthy of note. Often the requirements that are given to the developer for a QlikView document are sparse. I have been given little more than a database connection string to use on occasion. Having built many solutions gives you an idea of the sort of thing people are likely to want to see – but it easy to assume wrong. The only way to get things right is to sit the main sponsors down with pad of paper or flip-chart and ask them what it is that they need to achieve.
This therefore means that as the person coding a dashboard you also need people skills. Not always the first thing you associate with someone building IT solutions. However, to win the trust of the IT department and to challenge the assumptions of the finance director requires just that. A typical QlikView project should involve people from many areas of a business, and the person doing the build is often required to be the lynch-pin between these individuals.
So to sum up, the QlikView Developer has to be someone that possesses many different skills – and knows when to apply each of them. Added to what I have laid out above there are also those skills required in just about any role these days – the ability to work under pressure and to insane deadlines.
It sounds like a pretty tall order – but it is a challenge that us QlikView developers love to try and meet on a daily basis.
New Post: Typically, the QlikView developer will work within a larger team. See my later blog post on What Makes A QlikView Project Team.