A while back I blogged on What Makes A QlikView Developer, and the large number of different skills an individual needs to excel at providing business insight using QlikView. However, even the most highly skilled individual is not going to be able to make an entire QlikView project work on their own. By its very nature QlikView sits in the middle of an ecosystem made up of people with very distinct needs bringing a number of different skills.
What I want to explore here is how to get the best mix in your QlikView project in order to ensure it is a success.
Obviously every project is unique, and I have worked on projects of all shapes and sizes, so not every person below will exist on every project, but hopefully it will give you some insight into what you need to be looking out for.
QlikTech have shunned the term “End User”, as they believe that the user is the ‘Beginning of the process, not the end‘. This is why they have earned their place at the top of my list, and with good reason. Also, they are there in the singular on purpose.
Often when QlikView projects are first imagined they can be very large things, with hundreds of users often in numerous locations. This is sometimes as a result of the QlikView sales process, other times as a result of ring fencing budget at the start of the project. However it happens, it is very difficult to get into the mind of hundreds of individuals at the same time. This is why you need to find your typical initial user. By this I don’t just mean draw a stick man on a white board, I mean chose someone and involve them in the process. Make them feel special, as they need to be the heart of your project.
The attributes required for this person are not many, but they are important. First of all they must have a real need – or the process is not worthwhile. They must also have imagination and a desire to make things better. Too many people, particularly in larger organisations, are bogged down in the mundane day to day of their job – these people will not be able to be the sounding board you need as the project progresses.
Something I always like to do for the person chosen for this role is to give them a small QlikView document, that may only take a few hours to produce, which will solve one little problem or waste of time they have at the onset. By freeing them from the burden of that task at the start they will both have high opinions of the potential of QlikView and also have a little more time to contribute to the project.
There is much written about what makes a good manager and probably more about what makes a bad one. Their role in a QlikView project will vary hugely based on the size of organisation or project. Frequently it is the Financial Director who picks up the role of representing upper management on QlikView projects – often as the data being analysed is from the general ledger or similar source. Whoever it is their approval is of huge importance – as they will invariably be in the position of approving funds.
Again, vision is required on the part of management to see what the possibilities are of using QlikView in their organisation. They also need to have the courage to invest the required resources into the project, whether that is in terms of licences or their staffs time during implementation.
The good manager will of course be looking at where the return on investment is coming. Ensure that you demonstrate this to them – ideally illustrated with quick wins that QlikView has bought to the business as well as what will be achieved when the end solution is delivered.
The MI / BI Team
In organisations that are big enough to warrant a management information team these are the people who will have been providing reports to management using various tools for many years. They will probably have been given the responsibility of making the QlikView implementation a success – but perhaps grudgingly as it detracts from what they do in their existing tools. Whatever the MI team’s opinions on the project is they are almost certainly the best placed individuals to design the output from the QlikView applications. To get the best from the project the wealth of experience in this team needs to be brought into the mix.
Your MI team need to be encouraged to get involved and make the project work. They need to be shown that the end result will be something that will save them time and bring them kudos within the organisation. They will invariably have design and data analysis skills, but may need encouragement to share them.
Your QlikView project will no doubt mean more work for IT, at least that is how they will view it. It is therefore important to demonstrate that this is not necessarily the case. Especially in environments where there is no separate MI team, IT may be in the position of running off ad-hoc reports for users and distributing them to users. Ending this state of affairs will almost certainly relieve the IT workload. The initial pain barrier of a QlikView implementation is also incredibly low, with installation being done on a vanilla WinTel infrastructure. There is very little to configure and once up and running very little maintenance is typically required.
No software can be deployed in an organisation without the IT team to set it up, and an IT team that is happy to provide the service required of them makes a huge difference. If you have the luxury of picking who in IT has the role of looking after your QlikView installation it goes without saying you should try and get the person that goes out of his or her way to be helpful – but then you would always do that anyway.
As I mentioned at the start of this article, I have already covered in some detail what I believe makes a good QlikView developer. Some of the requirements placed on the developer can be carried by other members of the team in a larger project. For example the ‘softer’ design and project management roles can sit with experts in those fields. Whatever tasks are spread around the team the overall success of the project will sit largely on this individual’s (and it usually is an individual) shoulders. Make sure you have someone that is capable in this role.
In the context of a larger project I would like to add the skill of Listening to those I identified previously. The developer needs to listen to and take on board the ideas and designs of everyone else on the team in order to arrive at the best solution.
The Project Manager
This is a role that may or may not be required on your particular project – depending on its size. Many QlikView projects have the advantage of being delivered within weeks – not months or years. In these cases someone from within one of the other teams can take on the task of making sure everyone delivers their part of the solution at the required time and to the required specification. Whether it is a trained project manager or not the person taking on this role is the glue that holds everything else together.
Someone that is personable and can get the best out of everyone else involved is critical. Given the tactile nature of QlikView apps users often expect to be able to request changes and see them implemented almost instantly. Whilst this is often possible it is not always the best approach. Managing and prioritizing these tasks and individuals takes someone who is organised and methodical in nature. And often very patient.
The External Consultant
Obviously I am incredibly biased on this front, being a consultant that has been called in to assist with many projects for clients of all shapes and sizes. In order to keep the cost of projects down, and therefore attain ROI quicker, you must be careful how much you invest in consultants. However, I do honestly believe that getting someone in who has a broad experience and track record of successful QlikView implementations will be well worth the money spent.
An ideal consultant should be able to bring something to augment that of every other individual and team listed above – from what the user would like to see to how to implement operating system and security settings. Make sure you find someone that will get on with all the people that they are coming in to assist, or things may not go so well.
Whilst there are some quite sweeping generalisations in the above, and a fair bit of stating the obvious, I feel it is well worth thinking about the individuals you have (or intend to have) involved in your QlikView project and check you have the right matches for the right jobs. Because QlikView doesn’t carry the big price tag and long implementation times of other BI tools it is often assumed that solutions can be ‘knocked up’ quickly and without planning. Whilst this is to an extent true, for small ad-hoc bits of analysis, to roll out a business intelligence solution throughout an organisation takes a good amount of effort and a number of varied skills – regardless of the platform being used.
Get the right people involved, and give them the proper credit for what they bring to the table, and you will be rewarded with an excellent solution.