Diego's journal (DS12) - Week Five

by Diego Parker

Week Five (07/01/19 – 13/01/19)

This week we finally experienced one of the things we had been looking forward the most, the client project. With the launch of our first client project. we finally got the chance to apply the things we have been learning into a real-case scenario. Moreover, working for a client gave us a better idea of what it means to become a Tableau & Alteryx consultant. However, not everything was about the client project, we also had sessions on Alteryx Server, Alteryx Apps and a great session on ‘Teaching Tableau’ which gave us many tips on how to improve our presentation skills.

What did we do this week?

Monday was our first day with a client.

At first thing in the morning we all met the client, a team within a real estate agency. They started by introducing us to their company and what the company does. Following that, they explained the role of their team within the company and showed us the different data they collected. They did an amazing job guiding us through their different processes and answering all our questions regarding their data, which made it easier for us to identify how we could improve certain processes and what we could create to make their work easier. Because the client is relatively new to Tableau, our work would consist mainly in showing how Tableau could make their work with data more effective and efficient, whilst providing a deeper and clearer analysis.    

After the meeting we had time to discuss as a team about the different requirements of the client and how we would approach them. Everyone seemed excited about the challenge and some ambitious ideas had to be put down by Carl because they were too ambitious considering the time constraints (we had just 16 hours of project time allocated for the week). When we had finally decided what each one of us was going to do, we started diving deeper into the data but an hour before the end of the day we had to stop to do a #MakeoverMonday.

 Tuesday was about presentation skills and Alteryx Server.

During Tuesday morning we had a special session as Jason Rochin, Tableau Trainer, came to teach us on “Teaching Tableau”. The session was the first part of a 5-day course that trains people on how to teach Tableau to others. Because we were only having one session from the whole course, the session didn’t cover many of the specific aspects about teaching Tableau but instead it was more of an introduction on how to teach. A lot of the tips had to do with general presentation skills, such as tone or body language. We also discussed about “what makes a good teacher” and Jason gave us some tips on how to handle “difficult” members in the audience. To finish, we spent 20 minutes preparing a demo of any topic in Tableau that we would have to present to the class afterwards.

Following Jason’s session, we had an introduction to Alteryx Server with Ben Moss, one of The Information Lab’s Alteryx Ace. Here we learnt the basics of Alteryx Server and how we could use it to save there the different workbooks we create during our training.

Wednesday was about Alteryx apps and started the data prep for our client project.

The morning of Wednesday we went back to Alteryx Apps, a topic we had been introduced a couple of weeks ago by Ian. This time, Peter had a very hands-on session for us which consisted on a series of exercises. Whilst also learning Alteryx Apps, Peter made sure of reinforcing what we have learnt about Alteryx Server the day before. The exercises guided us through a variety of the interface tools in Alteryx and how we should configure them. We finished by learning how chained apps works and how to build them.

In the afternoon we went back to our projects. In my case I spent all afternoon building something that would be scrapped the following day after further talks with the client. Part of the learning.

Thursday was about RegEx and building the dashboard for the client.

We had already learnt some RegEx during our first month at The Data School, however it was the right time for us to go back and revise. Most of this RegEx session consisted on a 39-questions quiz using the Kahoot App, which made it super fun. The questions went from the very basics and increased slightly in difficulty as it progressed. Because the app allows you to stop between each question, was very helpful that each time someone had answered wrong Ben would go through the question and explain the logic behind the RegEx. As most Alteryx sessions, we finished with a series of exercises.

During the afternoon we had a phone call with the client which allowed us to ask some final questions and clear some doubts about our tasks and the different data sets. During the call the client told me it would be more useful for them if I did a different analysis to the one I was doing which meant that I had to start again.

Friday was the big day.

We had from 9am until 1pm to finish our projects. Brian was the only one who had his dashboard pretty much ready whilst the rest of us were working against the clock. Twenty minutes before the presentation, Jack (who was the project manager for the week) made sure everything was uploaded on Tableau Server and we were all ready to go.

Everyone did very well, and the client was really impressed by our work, which felt very rewarding after all the hard work the team put in. In hindsight, our first client project was an incredible learning experience which gave me a few lessons to take home:

  1. Don’t be shy and make sure to ask questions until you know exactly how you are going to approach the task. Also, keep in mind that your questions should not going to bother the client as it is in their own benefit that you are very clear on how to deal with their problem (specially in the training context of The Data School).
  • Understand your time and manage it well. After a month in the DS I have been exposed to the potential of Tableau and Alteryx as a tool. When you see so much space for improvement during the client presentation you may feel inclined to try to solve every single problem and provide the very best solutions. However, for client projects in the Data School you don’t have more than 20 hours a week.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. One of the characteristics of the Data School is that everyone works very hard and tries to improve their skills every day. Also, you are surrounded by amazing people and sometimes can be difficult to feel that your work is in that level. However, even if you weren’t able to produce your best dashboard that week, keep in mind that for the majority of companies around the world your worst dashboard may be a masterpiece that can be of great help in their business. Don’t slack tho!

If you have any doubts or comments, feel free to use the box below or contact me in Twitter @DiegoTParker