As a business consultant and Qlik Architect, one of the very first things I preach is communication, communication, communication. Does this sound cliché, you’ve heard it before or I’m stating the obvious? The truth is, if you want to sustain your customers, get solid referrals and recommendations on your work, then this is going to be your basis for designing and developing Qlik applications that delight your customer. If we want to enjoy a successful QlikView consulting engagement, we must encourage great communication by asking the right questions.
The Discovery Process
As you embark on a Qlik design project, or better yet, during the presale, find out as much as possible about your customer. Learning as much as you can about their business will allow you to produce the best product and exceed their expectations. It simply goes back to the five W’s … Who, What, Where, When and Why … oh, and let’s not forget the How.
Let’s first focus on Who our customer is.
- Who is the intended “audience”? Meaning, who will be using Qlik and who will they be reporting their findings too? You want to provide them with the ability to easily and efficiently understand their data in a manner which will allow them to communicate and report quickly and thoroughly.
- Who are they as a business? What industry or internal department are they in, finance, manufacturing, sales or supply chain for example.
- Who are they as a business within their industry? Are they the leader who are setting the benchmark which other companies measure themselves against or are they striving to meet and exceed that benchmark?
Lets talk about What.
- What do they do? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
- What are they measuring or reporting? It could be operational goals, revenue, inventory, productivity, quality or sales BUT maybe it’s what they’re not measuring or reporting because it simply didn’t occur to them or was too difficult. A little investigation on your part can reveal what the industry benchmark is and if you investigate a little further – you can answer what their key competitors are measuring and reporting!
- What can also be “What’s wrong with their current reporting method?” Ask them what they don’t like about their current reporting method. Then it’s your job to show them how it can be done correctly and/or demonstrate an alternate method to do so.
- What is their mission statement? What are their strategic goals and targets – 1, 5 and 10 year plans? This will greatly help in the development of their data/design architecture, knowing that eventually they want to be reporting via their website or on mobile devices. Maybe in the near future they are expanding or going to acquiring another business and the implications associated will allow you to plan and avoid backwards re-engineering the application.
Have a discussion about the Where.
- Where do they present or view their reports? It’s not always in the boardroom. It could be on the production floor, warehouse or via their website. This supports who is the intended audience – keep in mind you might need to alter your design for the environment where it will be displayed.
- Where are their services or products delivered? Are their logistic systems involved? A simple pie chart showing the % of sales per region is no longer adequate – Map it! Since they already have customer ship-to addresses, the volume shipped and value, display that data on an interactive map to visually see where they succeed and where they need to focus more attention.
- When do they report? We’re talking frequency – so it can be (but not limited to) hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, annually etc … give them the options! Show them comparative analysis over time, current year versus previous year or the current month to date versus the same time last year.
- When do we need to deliver? We need to be able to either add resources to meet deadlines or guide customer expectations to a realistic level.
Identify the Why.
- Why are they reporting? Is it to improve processes? Are we building this to identify opportunities? Or are we just trying to satisfy basic reporting needs? The Why helps level-set the expected outputs. Maybe the project is expected to create Return-On-Investment.
How can be an important question.
- How are they currently reporting? Is someone manually updating a spreadsheet, taking countless hours, perhaps days, to gather data, clean it and display it? Here’s where Qlik will make you shine when you demonstrate how this will be virtually a hands-free, error-free, seamless process and will allow them to make more effective, efficient and productive use of their time. It is also here where you have an opportunity to measure ROI. How many hours have we saved in a month by implementing this analysis solution?
To be successful at QlikView consulting, we must take the attitude of “The more you know, the better off you are”. This mantra will enable you to delight your customers. The ROI will be the accolades, repeat business, recommendations and referrals. So back to my original statement about one key to success being communication – it’s communication with customers, suppliers and internally. The more you know about who they are as a business, the more you will show them how Qlik will open up that communication!
In future blogs I will drill down into each of these areas explaining and sharing the best practices used. Until then, a quote from W. Edwards Deming “In God we trust, all others must bring data.”