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Skill Sets Required to Successfully Implement PPS

Posted by Alan on August 6, 2008

Recently I did a skills inventory to see where we might need to add additional staff or build new skills in existing staff to keep up with our PPS pipeline and the expected deployments we see happening over the next 6 to 12 months.  I took into account the 3 components of PPS — Monitoring, Analytics and Planning.  What it comes down to is the fact that you need many different skill sets and no single person is going to have them all (or if they do, you probably can’t afford to hire them).  So what are the skills and skill sets I believe need in place to successfully implement a major PPS project?  Here they are:

  • Business Consulting Skills:  Remember that a majority of your interactions will be on the business side of the house and not the IT side (probably 80/20).   Being able to effectively interact with CxO’s and department managers is going to be critical.   You can’t go in spouting off terms like SSIS, MDX and PEL and expect to get any results.
  • Real Life Understanding of Business:  You have to be able to understand what drives business.   It is easy to discuss the theoretical value of a balanced scorecard, but in reality most companies have a lot of other fish to fry before they get to that point.    
  • Understanding of the Client’s Business/Industry:   Whereas you don’t have to be an expert you have to be able to understand what they do, why they do it and the envrionment they do it in.   For instance, if they are a not-for-profit and all the end users are volunteers and they have high turn-over; , you may have to simplify the input forms and other screens to the point of reducing the quality of your data.  However the cost of not doing such may make dramatically increase the costs of managing the solution and push it outside of their budget.
  • Accounting/Finance Knowledge:  For a monitoring or analytics project you can probably fake this as long as the client can point you in the right direction to the data and tell you what they want to see.  However, if you are going to do Planning, then a knowledge of accounting/finance critical.  If you can’t read/intrepret/understand an income statement or balance sheet, don’t undertand the ramifications of partial ownership which changes throughout the year and don’t know a debit from a hole in the ground, then you are in big, big trouble.
  • SQL Server 2005 (2008):  PPS sits on top of SQL Server and therefore you are going to eventually have to mess around with it.  Either from an installation point of view, or maintenance or reporting.
  • Other Data Sources:  In a perfect world, when it comes to Monitoring, Analytics or getting actuals into Planning, every host data source would be SQL Server based.  However, we don’t live in that perfect world.  The larger the client the more likely they will have multiple data sources and systems including Oracle, DB2 and databases you have never heard of before.   You will have to get at these somehow in order to complete your solution. 
  • SQL Server Analysis Services:  M&A loves to consume cube data.  Planning stores the data in cubes.  You will be working with cubes eventually if you want to work with PPS.
  • SQL Server Integration Services:  See my comment above about working with other data sources.  To get data into a data warehouse and cubes for Monitoring and/or Analytics or loading actuals in for Planning, you will be using SSIS.  
  • SQL Reporting Services:  The Planning operational reports utilize SRS and as you are doing Monitoring or wanting to distribute Planning data the obvious choice will be SQL Reporting Services.
  • SQL Scripting (T-SQL):  See my comments above about SQL Server and SSIS and you will realize why this is on my list.
  • MDX and by extension PEL:  More advanced requirements will require more advanced solutions.  Whether it be doin some unique filtering and slicing and dicing within Monitoring or creating unique business rules within Planning you will need to know MDX and within Planning that extends to knowing PEL.  You won’t get though any real project without knowing them.
  • Excel (including VBA and advanced Excel funtionality):  Part of your Planning solution is going to involve using some of the advanced functions of Excel.  Whether it be the cool data visualization components or the need to tweek the interface using VBA you are going to need to know more than basic Excel.
  • SharePoint (WSS/MOSS):  Monitoring uses SharePoint to display your scorecards, dashboards, KPI’s and all the rest.  To do this successfuly and have it look good and to deal with things like security you will need to know SharePoint.
  • Proclarity:  The base Monitoring and Analytic components lack the ability to create things like pie charts, heat maps or decomposition trees.  To get that functionality you will also have to implement PAS and Proclarity Desktop.
  • Visio 2007 and Virtual Earth:  Anyone can knock out a simple chart or graph.  You want to make your data sing, then look at using Visio or Virtual Earth as part of your presentation layer.  By the way, Virtual Earth will end up requiring .NET development skills as well.

I may be forgetting something in my list, but I hope not because it is long enough as it is.   In short, to successfully do PPS, there are a ton of skill sets that are required.  Granted, not every project will require every skill set, but eventually you will need them all.

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4 Responses to “Skill Sets Required to Successfully Implement PPS”

  1. This is a good post and it shows the level of understanding needed for BI implementation. I would add that project management skills are needed for orchestrating implemntation. Some Project Plan Framework is avialable here.

    I would also suggest the business culture must be ready to adopt. Consider the book “Drive Business Performance; Enabling a Culture of Intelligent Execution” Wiley.

  2. […] The content seems like a lot -and it doesn’t even cover the stack of technologies such as SQL Server 2005 and SharePoint. But consider Alan Whitehouse’s Blog recent post, Skill Sets Required to Successfully Implement PPS. […]

  3. google said

    Hey there this is google here.. lvoe the site by the way.. keep up the good work

  4. another amazing article. thanks

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