Teaching new developers is part of my job description. It is definitely something I enjoy doing. I am frequently asked what qualities new developers should possess to excel with QlikView or Qlik Sense. And usually they are talking about technical experience. “Should I know SQL?” Although there are always technical requirements, I have always been way more concerned with having the right attitude. Given the correct mentality, all the technical stuff will follow. I often wonder what makes a good QlikView and Qlik Sense developer. I reflected on all the students I helped train and my own skills (or lack thereof) and came up with a list of qualities and skills that I believe are essential for a Qlik developer. Warning!
Warning!This list is highly subjective and only reflects my opinion.
1. Natural Curiosity
Every great developer I know exhibits a “thirst for knowledge” about the Qlik platform. What I mean by this is that when a problem is presented that a good developer does not know the answer to, they go find out on their own. And they do it as much for their own knowledge as they do to serve the client. A good Qlik developer is continuously learning (even when they are not getting paid for it). They are always watching Qlik videos, researching the community, reading blogs, and getting education.
2. Personal Qliking
In my experience, all good developers have this tendency of creating various Qlik apps for their own use. These might be business related apps or apps for a personal purpose, but the sole audience is the developer herself. This happens because the good developer understands how useful Qlik really is and just naturally finds uses for it in their daily life. I have said before that I have apps Qlik apps that I use for my personal finances, invoicing and for monitoring my exercise routines as examples.
3. Quick Responder
All good developers I know are quick responders. When a customer comes with a question, the model developer is on it within 24 hours. By nature, Qlik projects always have short development cycles relative to other BI tools. This tendency creates a culture of speedy communication where the project happens more like a live conversation than exchanges delivered by certified mail. I find that the developer that sits on an email for a week simply doesn’t understand the needed flow.
4. Excellent Communicator
This is a broad topic. Good Qlik developers can communicate clearly and pleasantly to everyone. Good Qlik developers also know their audience. Even more importantly, they know to cater their vocabulary and tone to the person they are talking to, saving the advanced technical terms for other developers and using a normal business vocabulary for the analysts and other users.
5. The “Many Hats” Mentality
The best Qlik developers can wear “Multiple Hats”. This is because we are asked to architect the data model, create ETL script, design visualizations, train users or other developers, help sell the software, set up servers, understand other connected software, etc. The list goes on and on. A developer that is willing to take a stab at many of these will be a good developer. Developers that feel their role should be limited to creating pie charts is doomed to failure.
6. Bridge Building
In my experience, there are lots of disparate people involved in any BI implementation. There are salespeople, database administrators, data experts, network administrators, business users, analysts, executives, and on and on. If all these people are not connected in the process, the project fails. I find that the QlikView or Qlik Sense developer is in the middle of all this and often times needs to be the person that connects all these disparate people together. A good Qlik developer understands this and will make that extra call to the business user to make sure they can access the dashboard, or will remember to send that follow up email to remind the DBA that she needs permission to read a particular database. The model Qlik developer is always making sure these “bridges” are built.
7. Communicates the Qlik Vision
This is an interesting one. When I say “Communicates the Qlik Vision”, I am not really talking about regurgitating the company marketing taglines. Rather, after receiving the dashboard requirements for a project that might reveal a misunderstanding of the Qlik value proposition, a good developer will communicate how we might change those requirements to take advantage of the way Qlik does things resulting in a dashboard that does more than the business requirement originally dictated. For example, with Qlik Sense, I still get the question “Can I export this chart to Excel?” The technically correct answer is “Yes”. But a question like that is really begging me to show the user how to pivot the columns of the chart within the interface or how to drag in another measure column. The good developer works with users to teach them how to use Qlik the way it should be used rather than just being a “yes” man to every customer whim.
8. Gives Back to the Greater Qlik Ecosystem
Helping your own customers is not good enough for the best Qlik developers. The greatest Qlik developers are involved in extra-curricular Qlik activities that spread knowledge across the Qlik universe. This could be participating in the Qlik Community, helping out with the Qlik Dev Group, becoming a Qlik Luminary, taking on speaking engagements, publishing a book or writing a blog (my preference). Even if your aren’t yet the greatest Qlik developer, taking on a few of these extra activities only serves to round-out and grow your knowledge and also grow your network.
Note that nowhere did I say that a good developer needs to be an expert in QlikView. This is because I feel that if you exhibit all the qualities above, the expertise will quickly come to you. Personally, I value attitude over knowledge all day long. Maybe you are a Qlik developer or are thinking of becoming one. Do you display these traits? Do you agree with this list? I welcome your comments below. Happy Qliking!