8/30/2012

Sell Out (Ads)

Q. So what's up with all these ADS on your website?
A. I'm experimenting.  Google offers the option to include ads on your blog, real easy to set up, and you can earn money.

Q. So basically, you've prided yourself all this time for avoiding ads.  Sell out much?
A. Yeah, I know the story.  I've always avoided ads like the plague.  I wanted to see how much revenue could be generated.

Q. And based on your current analysis, will you be retiring soon based off your lucrative venture?
A. Well, the ads have appeared for almost a week now.  The Dashboard shows I've got estimated earnings of $0.06 but the actual looks to be more like $0.01.

Q. Very interesting.  So are you going to shut them down?
A. Well, I'd like to let it run its course for a month or two, see what develops.  These things take time I hear.

Q. Won't the stamp for the check cost more than your earnings?
A. Uh, I'd have to do the math to confirm or deny that question.  What do stamps costs now a days?

Generalist

What am I up to?

Well, today I got a new project to create 4 new SSRS reports pointing to the SalesForce database.
Also got two report modification tickets.  All SSRS.
And I work with Internal Customers to grant access to Power Pivot, Tabular Models, PowerView and SharePoint sites.
And I standardized some queries out of Great Plains that get called from a .net web service written by a coder.
And I was helping out on a c# app for a day or two.
And import some spreadsheets into SQL-Server.
And write SQL.

Basically a mix of Reporting, Advanced BI, SQL Development, SharePoint, Documentation and help out wherever possible with Processes and such.

So you could say I'm a 'Generalist'.


8/29/2012

What to do with Extra Income

When you are done paying your bills, the money you have left over could be put to use.

You could
  • Save in your 401k, which the CPAs would prefer to reduce your taxable income.
  • Save cash, building your nest egg for a rainy day.
  • Do home improvements, fix up your house.
  • Pay down your mortgage, as principle payments knock off time from your term.
  • Buy a 2nd home or piece of land.
  • Invest in the stock market.
  • Go to the casino and put everything on black, try your luck!
  • Do a combination.
Choice is yours.

Healthy Company?

Is your company healthy?

Do people enjoy their jobs?

Does information flow freely?

Are people helpful to their collegues?

Are people inspired about their mission?

If not, your company may not be healthy.

And how do you fix that?

You need to grease the organization with DW-40.

You need to get people involved.

Empowered.

Make a difference.

Have a purpose.

Individually and as a team and as a company.

Who are you?

Where are you going?

What is your purpose?

How do you get there?

When will you know?

You should be able to answer these questions.

If not, better get busy.

Create a culture.

A culture of quality.

Of self service.

Of cooperation.

Of free flowing information.

Of teamwork.

Of 'how do we make this place better?'.

Make it so!

Flashes Across the Sky

Watched some videos on YouTube yesterday.

Janis Joplin was interviewed on the Dick Cavet show.

What a gem.

She talked about going on stage, being a singer, it wasn't about the money, it's about expressing the things inside that otherwise couldn't be expressed.

Watched another video on Jimi Hendrix.  He just loved to play his guitar, whether on stage or to find new rhythems and songs.  Said the money was irrelevant, it actually caused the majority of gifted musicians to get lazy and rest on their laurels.

And finally watched a video on John Lennon.  He said that he watched the politicians and said they were and they acted insane.  Their motives were contrary to the public's best interest.

And as you know, all three died tragically, before their time.

They were flashes across the sky, they lit the world with their brilliance, then burned out in an instant.

What can we learn from these people?

I think they channeled energies.

They were of service.

They were instruments of God.

To give the rest of us a glimse of what can be.

Instead of what is.

Boss of Your Career

People assume that Programmers spend their days staring at the monitor typing frantically on their work.

The reality is we spend a good portion of time waiting on other people.

Waiting on files to be sent, project specifications, people to get back from vacation, for things to be tested.

We do a great deal of waiting, idle time.

And the trick is to have a side project that you can work on during the slow times.

Or some training material you can study.

Company's are no longer required to train you.

They will just hire people who already have the skills.

So fill the gaps in time wisely.

You are the boss of your own career.

Make sure you take care of yourself too.

8/28/2012

Pitfalls of Business Intelligence

Where's all the insights?

Business Intelligence was supposed to revolutionize information.

Make people smarter, more informed, faster decisions.

Yet we have the same problems to solve as we did 30 years ago.

Same hurdles with newer technology.

Business Users still complain about reports:
  1. Reports are taking too long to run. 
  2. Data is not delivered fast enough. 
  3. Reporting can't keep up with Business rules changes.
  4. Not enough archived information to cross compare recent numbers with legacy reports.
  5. Why is it taking so long to get my data?
  6. Basically, the BI team is the reason for our lack of sales. 
I believe we have taken a complex problem and amplified it 1000 times.

However, this phenomenan is not restricted to just BI and DATA, it crosses over into every facet of technology.  Things have just gotten way more complicated.

There are some constants in this equation:
  1. Business users will never know what they truely want.
  2. And even if they did, they can't articulate it well enough.
  3. And their rules change by the minute.
  4. And DATA is a tough animal to tame.
  5. And it's growth makes it more difficult.
  6. As does integrating systems on the fly.
  7. And pushing data to users which expose security concerns.
  8. And pushing data to any devide, anywhere at anytime.
  9. And finally, the users will always need someone to blame. 
BI teams need to learn so many technologies the shortage of qualified BI people is growing.

Things will only get more complicated in time.

And the BI team is the new kid on the block.

And the users are throwing them under the bus by assigning blame, threatening to by-pass them and being difficult customers.

What's the solution?

That's the million dollar question.

8/26/2012

Sum of the Group Stronger than Super Star

We all tend to worship the superstars.

The Michael Jordan's, the Wayne Gretzky's, the Payton Mannings.

Let me tell you.  These people are tremendous athletes and were blessed with God given talents.

And they excelled in their sport / profession.

And raised the bar to new heights.

Yet they were part of a team.

And that team was only good as its teamwork.

It's ability to get along, to mesh as one.

To overcome obstacles as a single unit.

Having a super star does not ensure success.

It ensures ego conflicts, favoritism and division amongst the ranks.

It may in fact be worse to have a super star on your team that to have a cohesive solidified team.

I've seen it over the years in the workforce as well as sports.

And I could have been accused of being a super star from time to time.

Because the boss may have singled me out to work on specific projects.

While overlooking some of the other team mates.

And that most likely produced animosity and a variety of other adverbs.

Which drives a wedge between the team.

Sure the boss is happy because the works getting done, but at what cost?

You need a well balanced team to win over time.

Each member of the team has strength and weaknesses.

It's the boss' job and responsibility to find each persons characteristics.

And leverage them to use the strengths and build the weaknesses.

When each team member can rely on his team mates, knowing they have his back in times of trouble, they will extend themselves to new heights.

And the team will produce more work and better work than a single super star will ever produce.

So when you're advertising on Craitslist or Indeed, requesting the Michael Jordan of Programming, rethink your request and see if you can find someone who is a great team player.

May be the smartest move you ever made.

Moving App to Production is only Half the Battle

Do you fix your house one time and you're done?

Of course not.

Having a house is having constant maintenance.

When we moved in, we bought a new roof.

And then added insulation to the attic.

And then got all new toilets.

And we've had constant handiman work done along the way.

And plenty of plumbing issues as well and some pressure cleaning.

Then new outdoor lights.

New garage door opener.

Then a new swimming pool.

And now a new air conditioner.

Soon we'll need a new water heater as well.

And then we'll start with the kitchen, with the fridge, stove and microwave.

Then we'll need carpet, and perhaps have the walls painted.

It never ends.

So you take a custom application built by a contractor.

You get the specs from the customer, have a contractor build it, test and move to production.

And the consultant goes away.

Project is done, right?

Uh, nope.

That's when the maintenance begins.

Because you will have bugs after go live.

They may have missed some of the logic.

You're going to want increase functionality.

And merge the data with some other data.

And of course reports.

So you may now have a full time resource maintaining this new application.

Which brings additional costs and time and resources.

So when you budget the cost of a new application, you'd probably want to at least double the price to include maintenance cost.

Buying or building the product is only half the battle.

The other half is the maintenance.

Don't get caught flat footed assuming you're done once the product moves to production.

And there you have it!

Have the Correct Tool for the Job

Maintenance is the key to life.

Whether its your body, mind, relationships or job.

So when you have a tough project to tackle, having the right tool is half the battle.

While getting our new air conditioning unit installed, the workers must have stepped on the toilet seat to check the air flow from the vent.

Resulting in a cracked toilet seat.

Once I let the sales lady know, she immediately credited us with $100.

So proceeded to get a new toilet seat.

However, the screws were tight and the awkward position made the job difficult.

So I realized, I needed more leverage to handle this.

So I went to the garage and found a king size screw driver.

Applied it to the bolt that kept the toilet seat on, and within a few minutes, the seat was off.

And the new one put back on.

If it weren't for identifying the problem, finding the solution through using the correct tool, I'd probably still be there trying to disassemble the bolt.

Have the correct tool for the job.

And you can't go wrong!

8/25/2012

You Can Keep Your Super Stars, I'll Take a Super Team

If you read the want ads lately, every company is looking for a Super Star.

What they should be looking for is a team player.

What I've learned lately is that the team is more important that a single programmer.

Sure a programmer can design systems, mentor others, but the org gets dependent on that person.

And he/she eventually leaves.

And with that, holes in the infrastructure.

How does this work, where is that data coming from, how does that web piece interact with this thing?

I've seen places that place too much emphasis on Super Stars at their own demise.

Teams are awesome.  People working together. Helping out when needed.  Mentoring.  Learning.  Assisting.

I would gladly prefer a bunch of smart people working together to solve complex problems.

Each having differing strengths and weaknesses.

Because a solid team can overcome problems that a single programmer can't.

I'll take a team any day over a Super Star.

8/24/2012

And now for some Programming, add to the mix

Getting a chance to learn some new programming techniques.

This latest chapter is all about JQuery.

A co-worker sent me some links to help get started:

http://jquery.com/

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2008/09/28/jquery-and-microsoft.aspx

And a blog link to get a free e-book on Microsoft ASP.net MVC:

http://weblogs.asp.net/scottgu/archive/2009/03/10/free-asp-net-mvc-ebook-tutorial.aspx

I think learning is a never ending pursuit to gain wisdom.

And I think programming is a great tool to add to my current Business Intelligence knowledge.

And Programming has been at my core founation since entering IT in 1995.

Database, Programming & Business Intelligence.

A perfect Trifecta.

8/23/2012

Programming at Last

I was a Microsoft Programmer many moons ago.

And I made a conscious choice to program in Java.

Because I thought it was the coolest language ever.

Unlike VB6, it had true object oriented capabilities.

It was a real language.

So I got a chance to work with Java for 4 years, and had enough.

With Microsoft .net, you get one IDE and many languages to choose from.

With Java, you have tons of IDEs to choose from and Java.

Except there's more to it than that.

You also have Struts, Hybernate, Faces, Xerces, Axis, Spring and a ton more.

TOO MUCH TO LEARN.

So now I'm back doing Microsoft .net.

c# to be specific.  But more than just that, JavaScript, MVC, JQuery, etc.

It's really different with the Frameworks since I last worked with it 2004-5 time frame.

A buddy of mine at work is showing me the ropes, telling me what to download, giving me a project to work on that connects to Active Directory and SQL-Server Analysis Objects.

Fascinating!  I'm loving all the learning and new technology.

To get back up to speed after my Java miscalculation.

Never again.

It's all Microsoft from here on out!

And so it goes!

8/22/2012

I know this Task is Impossible, but We Need it Solved ASAP

In the world of IT, the problems that arise are never ending.

And that's a good thing.

I've heard this many times, throughout the years, from many different managers:

"I know this task is impossible, but we need it solved anyway."

As programmers, it's our job, our responsibility, to find solutions to impossible problems.

On a daily basis.  With little or no support.  And tight deadlines.  Under pressure.  With senior executives watching.

And this is a typical day in the life of a programmer.

And these are the types of situations I live for.

Being the go-to person gives you a thrill.

To solve a problem that nobody else can solve.

And people taking odds that you won't solve it.

At the end of the day, after the problem gets solved and the boss looks good and you racked up some merit points.

I suppose some people do not enjoy this part of the profession.  Not knowing what their job will be that day.  Not knowing how to solve a problem with no instruction manuals.  Confronting the problem head on.  This probably keeps some very smart people from entering the programmer profession.

But it's the challenge that's exciting.

With the solution off in the distance, waiting to be found.

There's nothing like solving a complex problem under pressure.

That's what I like most about being a programmer.

How about you?  Do you like the challenge or prefer the comfort of the known?

Permissions Overload

When working in a database, it is required to have sufficient permissions to access your data.

Some places like to lock down the permissions air tight.

No access to nothing.

And some places leave the door wide open and you can do what you like, although this is quite rare.

I would say most places are fairly conservative in their data lockdown approach, even for developers.

They take the approach that if you need access to something, they will grant it, so you can do your job.

Just the tables, functions, stored procedures and views that you need access too, nothing more.

So sometimes when troubleshooting a production issue, you spend more time asking for rights and permissions, even on the dev server, than the amount of time it takes to debug the code.

Working with data for a long time, I can see how the DBAs are concerned with protecting the data.

However, if the lack of permissions hinders me from doing my job, I believe that's an issue.

On a side note, I had a chance to attend a local SQL Server User Group last night, and I have to say the DBAs are ver knowledgable people.  They take pride in their work and do a great job.

And what you will soon realize after spending time with DBAs is this, they don't like developers, period!

And perhaps that is why us developers have such a hard time getting permissions granted.

Maybe we are treading to close on their turf.  Maybe its a control thing.  Maybe they just don't like us.

Who knows?

Lastly, when there's a bug in production and I'm tasked with solving it, it takes me about 5 minutes to step through the code and find the culprit after pleading for a few hours to get sufficient permissions to the server, database, table, etc.

And that's just not right.

8/20/2012

Translate the Golden Nugget Piece of Info into Action

Data is valuable so long as you do something with it.

Let's say you have multiple data sources.

You mash them up into a single source.

You apply data cleansing, data governance, you expose the data to a data analyst.

They come back and say the magic number is 24%.

Great.

What do we do with that?

What is the industry average?

Should we try for a higher number, if so, how do we get there?

What exactly should we do with this golden nugget of knowledge.

That all depends on your organization.

Even though you successfully completed the life cycle of a Business Intelligence project, you are not done yet.

Hopefully you have someone who can translate that number into something meaningful.

To steer your business.  To make some action.  To improve the process.  To be more efficient.  To drive more sales.

And that's where business knowledge comes in, someone with expertise, years of knowledge, pearls of wisdom, that can push you over the top and ahead of your competition.

And there you have it!

8/19/2012

Four of my Blogs Posted Same Day

Some days I write a blog a day.  Other days I have the info for more.  Yesterday I posted several blog posts surrounding Business Intelligence.

Much to my surprise 4 of them were posted on the same web paper: Analytics and Data Intelligence.




8/18/2012

Solving Complex Problems

Have you ever gotten a shoe that was tied in such a knot?

How did you get it untangled?

Well, first I suppose you study the knot in all its intricacies.

Then you slowly try different methods.

You look for the outermost tangle and proceed to untangle it.

Doesn't look like any progress is being made.

So you keep at it, slowly removing one tangle at a time.

Until you get down to the point of the last tangle and whalah!

You did it.

You untangled a mess into a simple strand.

And so it is when troubleshooting a problem in the code.

At first it looks like a tangled web of mess.

Until you take a high level approach.

And begin to unwrangle it.

Some problems take longer than other, but if you have the patience to stick with it, almost any coding error can be found and resolved.

That's the approach I take.

Continually breaking the problem down into smaller components until eventually the solution appears out of nowhere.

Some people do not have the patience, concentration or determination to stick with it.

I suppose that's one question you can ask to an interviewee.

How do you go about solving complex problems?

Reports and Business Intelligence

I started out in IT, because the Lending department was getting some shoddy service from IT.

They brought me in to do reports.

In Crystal Report 5.0, 1995/1996 time frame.

And my job was to create reports.

With a Visual Basic front end, connected to Oracle.

I also wrote reports in Crystal Info 5.0.

And that set the tone for my career.

Although I've progressed in programming languages, from VB 4,5,6 to ASP to Dot Net to Java back to Dot Net, I still consider myself a Report Writer.

Except one day I heard the term Business Intelligence.

I said, wait a minute, I do that.

Hence forth, I shall be a BI developer.

And I've worked in SQL-Server, Oracle, Mainframe, Crystal Reports, Actuate, Microsoft BI, not so much Cognos but a little, and some JReports.

They are all variety's of the same thing for the most part.

Some have better features than others.

Some are more well known.

To be honest I've gotten away from Crystal and prefer Microsoft BI.

And I think Actuate was really good because it worked on Unix or MS operation systems.  And was object oriented and fully versatile and powerful.

I wonder if I'll make the leap into Big Data and Data Scientist.

It seems like a natural progression.

Except I didn't really do much with Data Warehouse and now that seems like a good thing so no loss there.

I would have to say that doing reports for a living is now a good profession.  When I started out decades ago, I couldn't find anybody who enjoyed doing reports.  That's a fact.

So onward and upward!

BI Open Source Not Always Better

Business Intelligence has some good Open Source Vendors to fit your needs.

The cost of purchasing will definitely save you money up front.

However, there are hidden costs you must realize before taking the plunge.

You have to find programmers to code, which may be hard to find.

The Source code may change breaking your existing code, leaving you high and dry.

The Source code may go away leaving you with no upgrade possibilities.

The way I see it, most business department would love to get their hands on free Business Intelligence tools.

You would think every department would be downloading these technologies right away.

And for some reason they don't.

They go with a higher priced industry standard with easier to find developers.

Just something to think about, free doesn't always equate to better.

And there you have it.


BI Offers Swiss Army Knife Solutions

A successful Business Intelligence project offers a variety of options like a Swiss Army knife offers different tools depending on the situation.

You need to chop down a tree, the Swiss Army Knife (SAK) has that option.

You want static Reports generated quarterly for the State, BI has traditional reports option.

You want to pick your teeth with a toothpick, SAK has that option.

You want gorgeous visualizations, BI has that option.

You want to mash data sets, same thing.

As well as Data Warehousing, Data Governance, Data Cleansing, Self Service BI, well, we've got that too.

We have Cloud Solutions, Mobile Solutions, Big Data Solutions, we have Forecasting Models and Predictive Analysis models, we have Data Mining as well as a whole bunch more.

Keep this in mind though, BI's solution will most likely offer more than one vendor solution to fit all your needs.

We don't have a single 'Silver Bullet' to handle every aspect of BI.

We have a conglomerate of technologies and a slew of vendors to choose from.

We have the Swiss Army Knife solution to all your reporting needs.

BI Depts are Separate from the Big Bad IT Depts

IT has been getting a bad rap for some time now.

They are slow, bureaucratic, power hungry, restrictive, unresponsive and a variety of other descriptive adjectives.

And for some reason, people have lumped 'Business Intelligence' into that group.

But I say not true.

Business Intelligence is a subset of IT.

We belong to the same budget, we may even have the IT prefix in our department name.

Except IT gives us the same treatment they give the users.

We have to fight for permissions, for linked servers, for new users, for modifications to production, just like the business.

We somehow don't fit nicely into the world of IT or the business.

We are basically a subsidiary of the organization.

A department without a home.

We have deadlines from the business, yet we are blocked by the IT department at every step.

Some BI shops have gone rouge.

They have their own private servers, not included in the IT network, so we don't get regular patches, or maintenance, we are basically on our own.

Then when we have to integrate our servers with PRODUCTION servers, IT stands up with their authority and blasts us from Timbuktu.

The Business Intelligence team realizes the goal of the organization is to disperse the data into information for corporate consumption to set policy, change the business and improve the ecosystem.

IT is not on our side, although we are lumped with them.

So I'd like to say, don't bash us.  We get it.  We know what you're after.  Our job is to assist you.  We are on the same team.  Aligned with the same goals from the CEO down to every level of the org.

We are the intermediary between IT and the Business.

We come in peace.

8/17/2012

Tweet Chat Snippits on #BI

In today's Tweet Chat on BIWisdom I had a few good comments to add to the mix:

8/16/2012

Business and IT Unite

The Business and IT are realigning themselves to play nice together to solve business needs.

Business is pressing IT to deliver solutions to complex problems fast, accurate and available anywhere.

Reason being, the Business has become tech savy and basically forced IT to respect them more.

Because the Biz can now go around IT through the Cloud, through hiring consultant or purchasing apps outside the IT budget and governance rules.

Change is always a good thing.

IT needs to play nicer.

And Business needs to provide 'residence knowledge'.

Together they will thrive.

Seperate they will be at odds and step on each others toes.

And so it goes!

Multiple Skills Required

Personal Skill to interact with co-workers to solve problems and work as cohesive team member.
Interpersonal Skills to provide good Customer Service.
Business Analyst Skills to gather and translate specs and define processes.
Quality Assurance Skills to debug programs before giving to users.
Political Skills to work with the executives to solve business problems and steer the org.
Technology Evangelist Skills to stay abreast of technology trends and dissiminate throughout org.
Marketing Skills to sell your departments ideas and value to the right people to ensure continued growth.
Documentation Skills to produce encyclopedia of different applications and how they interact with other apps.
Device Skills to know how the users will consume their apps and data.
Cloud Skills to know what applications and data can and can't go off site.
Data Warehouse Skills to know what questions need to be answered and where the data resides to answer those questions.
Security Skills to know how to avoid data theft / loss and how to properly secure your infrastructure.
Project Manager Skills to outline project timelines, action items, scope, deadlines, resources, etc.
Optimist Skills to overcome impossible problems and build momentum within org.
Pessimist Skills to foresee future issues in advance and prevent them.
Legacy Skills in order to migrate old applications into new technology.

8/10/2012

Death of EDW?

There's much discussion about the 'death of EDW'.

The Enterprise Data Warehouse has been around for a while now.

It's is a rock solid way to gather, consolidate, house and report on data wihtin your organization.

It's easy to wrap data cleansing and data governance around it.

Some organization require this, the the EDW is the ideal candidate for data repository.

However some limitations.

They are expensive to build.

They are expensive to maintain.

They are not easy to build.

They are not easy to maintain.

Mashing exteranl data sources is not simple.

They are rigid in format, so basically you must know the questions you seek to answer without searching for data patterns.

The time it takes to create one of the EDW is a LONG time.  More like 2-6 months to years.

Some organizations can't wait this long.

So as you can see, there are many plus and limitations to the EDW.

There are competing alternatatives emerging.

You have the In-Memory data storage which is relatively easy, which does not require high prices Data Warhouse teams.  The time to market is faster.  Deployment is somewhat easier as well setting permisssions.

Data Visualization tools also allow rapid data mining and mashing without the overhead of a EDW.

I don't necessarily see the 'death of EDW'.  It will be around for a long while.  As other competing products rise and take a piece of the pie.

So that's my take on it.

8/09/2012

Number One Issue Report by Biz Users

The number one issue report by business users about their data is:

1. Timeliness
1. Accuracy
1. Data Quality
1. Reports don't match
1. Data out of date
1. Not enough graphs
1. No Key Performance Indicators
1. No time variances
1. Dependent on IT support
1. Data is not real time
1. No drill through from Summary to Detail
1. Too much data
1. Not enough data
1. Data doesn't provide Insight easily
1. Data doesn't mash well with external data
1. Data doesn't make any freakin' sense

And there you have it.  The number one complaint from business users about their data.

Questions from the Business Users

How much sales volume was there last month?  Last Quarter?  Last Year?  Which days have the most sales?  What time of day do most sales occur?  Which students have passed all their exams?  How many Credit Card transactions per second did we process over time?  How much power does a typical customer use per month?

These are some questions that a manager, VP or CEO may ask.

And they find their answers in Reports.  And those reports pull their data from databases.

And most of these questions about the past can be answered by a report writer using SQL to query the database, rerturn the resultset into a report, which can be run on the web, parmater based, consumed in PDF or Excel.

Is my data accurate?  Was the data clensed?  Do we have a Data Governance policy?  Is the data up to date?  Can I merge this data with another data set?  Can we see graphs?  Dashboards and Scorecards and Key Performance Indicators?  Can I create Data Visualizations?  See data in real time?

These are more questions asked by the Business Unit, usually to the IT department.

Thus the great divide.  IT is tasked with so many things to deliver the data to users  so they can manage their business. 

Business users seem pretty demanding, huh?

Except they have to be if they want to stay in business?  Or ahead of the competition.

So the IT team better deliver, and they better learn to play nice with the Business.

Data is the blood that flows through an organization.  The data must flow to every department.  And the flow must be constant.

This is the new business reality.

Data now the Main Course

A decade ago, Data was an afterthought.

While working on enterprise applications for a variety of orgs, the reporting aspect of the projec was usually the last topic of conversation, a nice to have.

Nowadays, Data has become the main course, the prime direction for organization.

They are mapping applications around the data, because there is value in that there data.

Which can be used to leverage a company to make them competetive.

Data has become the prime rib of the meal, instead of the after dinner mint.

These times they are a changin'.

Lack of Spec Gathering = Failed Project

Specification gathering is one of the main reasons why IT project fail.

What is spec gathering?

One or more people from IT, could be a Project Manager, a Business Analyst or even a programmer, meet with the customers to gather requirements for a particular project.

In the meeting or meetings, the customer relays what the product is supposed to do.

Their job is to think through all the different scenarios that could arise.

Which means simulating different possible flows of data and following their paths to the end.

And it's ITs job to ask questions.

What happens when this occurs?  How should we handle the exceptions?  What if they happens for this reason, what should the application do?

However, for one reason or another, not blaming either side, all possible scenarios are not hashed out sufficiently.

And because not all info is gathered, chances are, some type of scenario will happen in the program which has not been accounted for.

And sometimes these are caught in the Quality Assurance phase of the project.

Chances are, QA teams have gone to the wayside and the customer becomes responsible for testing.

And they are always slammed for time and do very little if any testing.

And so the program goes live and downstream, days, weeks or months later, the problem is exposed and becomes a giant problem with high exposure and several departments are brought together to assign blame and scramble for a solution.

Which means the IT person gathers the information of what should occur when something happens, that which was not discussed prior, and the IT team fixes everything.

So the bottom line is to gather specs, up front!

You must got through the monotonous pain of disucssing every possible scenario as soon as possible.

I would say this is the top reason for failed projects.

Coding is usually the easy part.

And there you have it!

8/07/2012

TweetUp

An interesting topic was discussed during last weeks BIWisdom chat.

The subject of the TweetUp was Data Visualization.

There was discussion about how DataViz is a great addition to the Business Intelligence suite.

I had posted a comment:



With Traditional Reporting, you start with a customer, gather specs on what questions the report should answer, model and build your reports, test, deliver, consume.  A typical start and end point.

Here's the reply I got...



I agree 100%.  The search for insight is a beautiful process.  It takes a skilled data analyst to understand the data well enough, to search for patterns to derive meaning.

I posted another Tweet:


 Which got a response of:



Again, spot on response.  How do you know when you're done searching.  Thing is, you may never be done in all actuality.  The question isn't 'should we search the data'?  The question is, 'Who's going to pay for the time?"

Reason being, the art of data discovery takes time.  And time cost money.  And who's going to pay that money for the search of golden nuggets of information buried in all that data.

The Business Unit or the IT department?

Well, who benefits from the clues provided by the data?  The entire company.

Who traditionally does the work?  IT.

Who does the work now?  Business Analysts, Power Users, Data Analysts, Data Scientist, that's who.

I believe there should be a separate bucket from which to draw funds to pay for the time and resources to mine the data.

That's assuming you'd like to keep ahead of the competition and / or stay in business.

So 'thank you' Gregory Lewandowski for the quick retorts and nuggets of insight.

I've spent some time with Tableau and QlikView and was extremely impressed.

They offer simplicity, insight and Visualization.

No question.

I also work with Microsoft Power Pivot and Tabular Model at my day job, so I do get to play with Self Service BI tools with Mashing capabilities and slice and dice without having to be technical users.

I'm on board 100%.

And I'm glad to be part of such a diverse and intelligent group of people who discuss the world of BI.

Thank you!

Get Sh#t Done!