Ramesh Jeyaram, software development project manager at UNIS LUMIN (IT consulting services company, now a part of Softchoice), managed application project development for a professional sport association and facilitated its successful release in 2011. Ramesh was also a major decision maker in selecting Business Intelligence (BI) provider for data warehouse and analytical reporting solution.
- Ramesh, can you tell what was the major business challenge?
In our athlete application, we could manage what information could be captured, difficulty around it, hold this information so everybody could see it. That was a typical application. But in sports, they are very much based on health: they can collect all information about different players, and they should be able, by the end of the year, see who got injured, when, what type of injury and how much time and money have been invested during this year.
What we were trying to do was actually to predict the type of injury that would happen. The top stage was obviously reporting, what you did, so you can look at different tournaments, types of injuries that happened. But the ultimate intent was actually to use these reports not just for reporting purposes but actually build intelligence on specific case. For instance, when Sidney Crosby got injured, they all started talking about concussions a lot more for the whole year. They looked at different types of injuries, but focused on concussions. So, in application we’re capturing data about concussion. We needed then immediately go back in time to get all the statistics about concussions: when it was happening, and they did about it. In the application, it was difficult to report on those stats.
- What options did you consider for the analytical reporting solution?
There were not many options. The data was in the database, and we could run reports of it, but this would take a lot of time to actually run these reports, to get information together. But the ad-hoc reports are easy, the whole purpose of a BI solution.
We knew that we need a data warehouse. When we talked to our client, all requirements they were talking about reporting side, they were all BI requirements rather than reporting requirements.
- What criteria did you use for selecting a business intelligence solution provider?
The criteria that we used were to clarify at high-level what the solution would look like. So, what we wanted was a consultant who would come with experience with similar requirements, could work independently and show us how the application should look like, and what software we should use. We wanted somebody who is knowledgeable, who has experience, and who can work independently. That’s what we were looking for.
- And how did the implementation go? Did I satisfy your requirements?
Yes, absolutely. In terms of how the project implementation itself went, we obviously had some challenges, because it was not very clear what client wanted. Although we ultimately knew what they wanted to achieve, in terms of reporting, it wasn’t clear what type of reports they wanted, especially in terms of infrastructure requirements, how on the production environment the data is going to be transferred, and how the changes in the reports were supposed to be happening. Those were some challenges that we had.
You helped us actually to define that, in terms of production environment, what needs to be run where, how to stage data and how much time it would take, – typical challenges in terms of implementation, in terms of a bigger picture, which should be the focus initially in terms of architecture itself, in terms of creating reports and how long it takes, how they should be. But I think the biggest value that you’ve added is actually defining the big picture, and how many servers we needed, what services were going to run, how they needed to be connected, helped us develop automation scheduling.
I think the key difference is actually, if you look for a great BI, between developers and consultants, – developers would immediately dive deep into defining regulations, and going to very deep to subject matter, while the core is defining the bigger picture. You started with the bigger picture, and you kept emphasizing it to us, to understand how you would your service and everything else would really work. I think that’s what differentiates BI consultant from BI developer.
- How did you think we worked with developers? How easy it was to pick up and share information? Do you think the project went smooth?
So, you needed the information, the schema, and data types, the volume of information for you to get started. And the key, from management perspective, that I would look for is how much time you consume, how much developers time you’re taking, for you to get started. I think you didn’t take too much time. You picked up really quickly. From a manager perspective, it’s important how much of your time would it take to become productive. You did really well. I think you picked up very quickly, set yourself up quickly in terms of information architecture. You didn’t take that much time from developers as our previous vendors did.
- Thank you. And finally, Ramesh, what feedback did you hear from the users?
The feedback was good. We had issues from time to time regarding some system delays, but on the reporting site the data was always correct. Unfortunately, we didn’t have direct relationships with client, but we still got a good feedback.