It was on a Friday afternoon in April that I sat down to talk with Sean Bruton, Qlik Luminary 2018 – 2019 and Business Intelligence Architect – Vocational Training Charitable Trust (VTCT). Well, I sat down at my desk and placed a trans-Atlantic phone call.
I am the Content Marketing Manager at Motio, Inc., a software company that creates products that enhance Busi-ness Intelligence tools. After focusing on Cognos Analytics for 7 years, Motio added Qlik to its repertoire. I was tasked with getting the story of how VTCT, based in the United Kingdom, came to use our product, Soterre.
Soterre is a solution that eliminates time-consuming and cumbersome administration tasks in Qlik Sense. Sean uses it daily in his role at VTCT, a market-leading awarding & assessment organization offering vocational and technical qualifications in a range of service sectors. Launched in 1962, VTCT is the current market leader in the UK hair & beauty sector, and has over 2,000 approved training providers globally. VTCT’s qualifications span a range of sectors including hairdressing and barbering, beauty therapy, complementary therapy, sport, active health and fitness, hospitality, business and retail, and learning and development.
VTCT works in collaboration with a number of partners throughout the world that deliver their high-quality vocational and technical qualifications. VTCT strives to stay ahead of the trends in order to assist their training providers that give learners direct line of sight to a job, or advancement within their current careers. But challenges can arise due to the number of variables associated with centres being located throughout the world.
Data is abundant at VTCT. Over the past three years, data has grown from three to over 18 different sources that now create their data ecosystem. This allows data to be used in context and provides deep insights that result in actions. Three years ago was when Sean first discovered Qlik Sense. Before Qlik Sense, data reporting was cumbersome. Now with Qlik Sense, Sean has been able to scale down the number of reports by roughly 80% while simultaneously expanding the variety of data worldwide, which enables a richer story to be told through the data. These reports are accessible through dynamic dashboards that give employees throughout the organization quick and easy access to the data they need.
Any change to a data point in a Qlik Sense app can have a ripple effect throughout the organization; there is no room for error. Before Soterre, Sean relied on a “home grown” version control approach, which involved creating copies of each version of an app so he could restore a previous version if an error was found. This involved keeping each version and naming them “V1, V2, V3, etc.”
If a mistake was made, The BI Team would have to search for the last correct version and manually copy the informa-tion into the live Qlik environment. This could be quite tedious and take anywhere from hours to days. There’s the additional risk that any new information that had been added to the latest version could be lost if they needed to revert back to a previous version. This process required meticulous attention to detail on data entry and scripting. Rework and data entry takes valuable time away from analysis and new design.
My team first met Sean at the last Qlik Qonnections. He stopped by our booth on the exhibition floor and saw a Soterre video. He was intrigued. He could see a unique application directly to his work and stated, “Wow, it’s so simple!” Soterre runs as a separate app within the Qlik Sense environment and offers complete visibility of additions/deletions, changes, etc. “It’s not just a cliché, time is precious and there is a set amount of it. I am doing the design, the development, and the analysis. If I spend too much time on building a report, I will have less time to educate and empower others through the analysis and projections of its results.”
The version control capability in Soterre changed the way they work in Qlik Sense; it has emboldened Sean to make more changes and try new things because it can happen in a matter of seconds. Soterre automatically creates new versions of apps, streams, and bookmarks behind the scenes every time a change is made. There is no need to worry about creating a copy for version control on every iteration of design. There is less stress and more freedom to make changes and try new things as anything that doesn’t work can be undone in a matter of minutes. This isn’t just a benefit for Sean in his job, but it allows individuals in the organization to brainstorm more ideas with Sean knowing they can do a trial and error of those new ideas. Soterre is like a safety net to VTCT, “The amount of time I save is just amazing.”
“Soterre removes the stress and anxiety of needing to track changes. It offers me peace of mind.” He now focuses on how a possible change can empower stakeholders, improve data quality or even quicken processes, instead of worrying that making the change could cause a possible error and cost hours of time. Now, the BI team doesn’t have to weigh the risk of creative changes but are at liberty to make alterations that will help anticipate trends and stay ahead of the data.
Beyond the day-to-day usage, Soterre’s Version Control aids VTCT in their compliance. The qualifications that VTCT produces are regulated by government bodies. Version control offers a clear, comprehensive audit trail that can be understood by any external party.
Sean left me with some powerful words. “My job is to make data talk and empower my coworkers through those data insights. Because of Soterre, I am no longer restrained by administrative tasks and creating unscheduled back-ups. This enables me to focus on how I can empower people every day. And you can’t put a price tag on that.”