Entries by Rupmeet Singh

Software Testing and Quality Assurance Event in Vancouver BC

On November 7th, OptimusQA organized a breakfast event for industry leaders in B.C. More than 30 guests attended the Software Testing event at Vancouver Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver. The topic of the event, “Sensible, Pragmatic and Effective Testing”, covered the breadth and depth of knowledge required for decision makers to evaluate the testing […]

Outsourcing Business Intelligence: Hybrid Onshore-Offshore Delivery

I have been involved in many outsourced business intelligence projects for our customers with the full range of delivery models from onsite, offsite, offshore and hybrid. While there are still good reasons to choose each of these models, I find the hybrid model tends to work best. At Optimus, the different deliver models typically work as follows: Onsite: 100% work done at the client’s location Offsite: almost 100% work done at our local office Offshore: 95% work done at our offshore delivery center Hybrid: 30% work done locally and 70% work is done in our offshore delivery center The final quality of the work is the same for each delivery model. However, I have noticed that the hybrid approach brings a significant benefit to our customers. The main benefits are as follows: Lower Cost Quick Delivery Cycles Partner that takes greater ownership of projects and client’s risk Economies of scale, expertise, and best practices Increased flexibility How Hybrid Onshore-Offshore Works We apply agile development methods to business intelligence to deliver on hybrid onshore-offshore projects. Our local team starts with evaluation and planning of the technology, tools, architecture with your key team members and other stakeholders. A list of the project items is created based on the high-level requirements. These requirements are then fleshed out in the project backlog. The items in the backlog are then arranged in sprints based on priority and timelines. The Optimus local team then performs interviews with the client teams and end users to document detailed requirements. With detailed requirements in place, the offshore team starts the work on the design and development. The testing team is involved from the early cycle to receive quick feedback and plan the next delivery cycles. We perform daily scrum meeting to go over feedback and review sessions with the onsite team, offshore team and client team(if needed). Once the delivery of the sprint is tested by offshore team, it is handed over to the onsite team to perform a walkthrough with the client team. The client team performs the final testing and the delivery item is deployed to the production environment. This process allows client-facing elements of the projects to be performed during the business hours (local time zone) with the client. Elements that don’t require client interaction, like development and testing, are performed overnight at our facility in Noida, India. In some cases, you can even give feedback at the end of the day and see it implemented the next morning. Learn more about our report development services.

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Report Performance Optimization: Data Quality

Query optimization is the first place everyone looks when doing performance optimization on reports, but there is more to performance optimization than just optimizing queries. Proper use of tables, joins conditions and wide data ranges are all solid techniques for optimizing queries. However, data quality is another factor in report performance. Let me share an example from an organization we were working. The company was using the project management module of an ERP system to track hours, billing and expenses. They had more than 500 projects in the system and ran a weekly report that is configured to run on the database of active projects to provide detailed information on hours consumed, capacity, project status and resources breakdown. The problem is that it takes one hour to run the report and requires a lot of computing power even after query optimization. The report is developed to show the information for only active projects in the week. There is no process of closing and archiving the completed projects on regular basis. As a result, the query had to run through all the projects that are marked active, even though these are actually completed. The solution to this performance optimization challenge was not query optimization in this case. Improving the process of changing the status of projects and archiving them resulted in the performance improvements that they needed. This resulted in better data available in the database and less time and computing resources to produce the query output. After implementation of the process, the organization has seen significant decrease in the query run time. The lesson learned here is that report performance optimization isn’t always about query optimization.  The people that touch data at any point can also have an effect on performance.

The post Report Performance Optimization: Data Quality appeared first on OptimusBI.

Report Performance Optimization: Data Quality

Query optimization is the first place everyone looks when doing performance optimization on reports, but there is more to performance optimization than just optimizing queries. Proper use of tables, joins conditions and wide data ranges are all solid techniques for optimizing queries. However, data quality is another factor in report performance. Let me share an […]

Gartner Says BI is the Focus of Companies: Some Strategy Tips

Gartner research predicts that business intelligence and analytics need to scale up to support explosive data sources. Many companies are developing strategies to take complete advantages of their business intelligence initiatives and data trying to extract the maximum value at the minimum risk. The main values that these companies are trying to extract are as follows: Improved decision making throughout the organizations Quick decision making Scalable solutions Low operational cost Less development time of the solution Easy to maintain Easy to use In order to have a successful business intelligence strategy, organizations should have to encourage processes, people and technology to work in an integrated mode. The factors that need to be addressed in BI strategy and planning include the following: Effort to collect the data from various sources Effort to integrate data and maintain “the single version of truth” Access to all the information/data to be used in reporting and dashboarding Analysis of data to decide the future trends or investigating past performances Identifying and consolidating key performance indicators (KPIs) for different audiences We have helped our customers with business intelligence initiatives. We would be happy to share our experience and answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to contact us.

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The Secret Success Factor in Business Intelligence Projects

Funding and stakeholder approval are the two most obvious success factors for any BI project. These factors are the drivers of the project from the beginning to the end. However, one big success factor that is easily overlooked in BI strategy and planning is getting enough time and access to end users. End users’ time is the most important element in the successful implementation of business intelligence in any organization. The cost of  a BI project is the amount of money spent on planning and implementation plus the amount of time  needed from end users. If you are not prepared to invest enough in either, then you are going to be disappointed with the results. End User Requirements In order to keep this post simple, I will use developing external reports as an example. In this sort of project, end users need to provide the following: Report design: details like font size, layout, report border colours and logo placement. Input parameters and columns: details like column names, parameters names, parameter values and default parameter values. Usage scenarios: help report writers write the logic by providing all possible scenarios. Test cases: help validate the report using all possible scenarios. Requirements Documentation We use a “Universal Specification Document” to capture information that is common throughout the project. This is usually a one-time discussion with the end user and it covers things like branding and fonts. We use “Report Requirements Document” and “Report Design Document” for every report to be developed. The purpose of these documents is to help both the end users and Optimus business intelligence team with the following: Capture all the information required in the report writing project. Be efficient in developing the report. Save a number of report iterations, meetings and reduce the time and expense required to develop the report. Feel free to contact us with any questions you may have on our process and templates or learn more about our report development services.

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5 Steps to Better Self-Serve BI Reporting

Companies seeking true value from their data, focus on the users of the reports. This is even more important these days as companies move to self-serve BI. I’ve spoken with a number of organizations that think they could be getting more from their self-serve BI. If you are embarking on a self-serve BI project, or you are concerned that you could be getting more from self-serve BI, then these are important user-centered points to keep in mind. Understand the needs of self-serve BI end-users. Ensure the data is correct. Train end-users to use the tools. Prioritise your reports. Give detailed requirements. Validate your reports against usage scenarios. A brief summary on each of the above points is as follows: Understand the needs of self-serve BI end-users Before starting any self-serve BI initiative, you should understand the needs of end-users. Senior management, business unit heads and any other stakeholders should be involved in determining the needs. Early involvement will help eliminate redundant reporting. This also provides an opportunity to map out the business units who can be satisfied with single report like Employee Performance Reports that can be shared with the Department Managers and HR. Ensure the data is correct Big companies accumulate data sources and data can very quickly get out of control. Data sources often include internal applications, external feeds and various software as a service applications. Having a single version of correct data is a must. This can be achieved by developing a data warehouse or a central database. Having correct data in one place is a key first step to giving your organization the tools to make good decisions. Train end-users to use the tools Training should be provided to the end users on the self-serve BI tool. This will help them understand the capabilities of the reports. Training is critical as end users may end up creating ineffective reports. Prioritise your reports Management should sit down together and decide which reports need to be made and order the reports by priority. The reports will provide maximum value as the highest priority reports get developed and deployed first. This will help prevent end users from getting overwhelmed by a large number of new reports all at once giving them time adapt to the tool. Give detailed requirements Detailed requirements are necessary in the report development process. This step requires effort from both the business analyst and the end user. Having detailed white boarding session(s) will reduce significant amount of time in the iterations after the report is developed. Validate your reports against usage scenarios Test cases from the end users help significantly in the successful development of the report. End users should provide test cases comprising of all possible scenarios. This also helps in combining business logic with the application logic and result in correct query writing. We have worked on many self-serve BI reporting projects. Contact us and we’ll be happy to share our experience with you and address any questions you may have.

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