What is team preparation?
Is preparation for your team part of your strategy or is it a tactic that needs to be undertaken everytime you are about to start a project?
I believe it is all about team collaboration which on a macro scale definitely falls under a strategy. So what do I mean by team preparation and collaboration?
Everytime you undertake a project you gain not only valuable experience but methodologies for undertaking other projects. For example, if you undertake a Revenue Model for a finance area, the basic structure is the same for every other similar model at other companies.
Preparation is not isolated from Project Management
Thus, if you decide on a generic model for doing the projects you can already utilise standard cubes for every Revenue project, standard processes and objects. In fact the only thing that realistically needs to change is the naming convention for the new cubes and dimensions. To ensure that all of your team benefits from this experience you need to ensure there is some sort of centralised area where you can keep these universal cubes and obviously the documentation that assists them to use these tools.
If you are a person who is tasked with implementing a particular project, then taking a fully equipped toolbox can certainly reduce time and increase the chance of customer satisfaction. So what do I mean by toolbox?
1. Almost all projects that are undertaken in BI usually end up as a line in the General Ledger somewhere, so always keep in mind that other projects need to dovetail into yours. Thus, things like naming conventions can be critical, so developing a generalised naming convention manual will enable you to quickly and successfully standardise names across a business. Remember that this manual is important to be shown to a client upfront and left on site as part of the documentation, here is an example.
2. The iterative approach really means that you are looking to the client as a member of your team. If that is so, then it is very essential to deploy each iteration as soon as it is complete. There are a number of good processes to aid this practice, such as standardising server infrastructure on each project. Ensure you have three types of servers; Production, Development and Staging. The staging server is used for UAT and thus won’t interfere with your next iteration, as with an Agile approach UAT does not necessarily need to be at the end of the programme. With the three server structure you have three “parallel streams” that can be independent and unreliant on other tasks that are being undertaken.
3. Developing some inhouse software solutions that enable you to deploy iteratives fast and efficiently can be of great value. These are usually developed by people with great experience and enable you to deploy each step as it is complete. With this method, it will also help you to decide which parts of each project are going to be undertaken in each step. Don’t be apprehensive about researching online to see if someone else has already developed the tools you need.
4. Make sure your toolbox includes as much uniform documentation as you possibly can. For example standard BRD’s, UAT Questionnaires and Technical Requirement Documents will save you hours of work for the BA’s and Developers when piecing the project together. Also, many of the projects you undertake will be of a similar nature so having pre-developed cubes for say GL projects (such as Capex, Look-up cubes and Revenue are good examples) and grouping them under different industries will be a godsend. They will help you do speedy and efficient Proof of Concepts and will save you mountains of time with your implementation. If you can find a way to enable these models to be stored as an object and develop your own or buy tools that allow you to modify them (ie quickly change names), it will ensure you are way ahead of the curve.
The last thing is to ensure you have other tools to enable you to make your solution perfect. Tools that enable you to set-up email notifications, tools like Winmerge for comparing and detecting any changes that have been undertaken and also maybe something like SVN for version control.
As you can see a well equipped Toolbox will greatly assist your development team as they will always benefit from all the other projects and experience that the whole company have previously undertaken.