New Quantrix users often schedule a training session to get up to speed quickly. While Quantrix offers training and consulting with in-house staff, we also have a network of Quantrix partners that can effectively deliver training and consulting services. One of the most experienced partners is Valerie Grenier. Formerly of Quantrix, and now Senior Consultant at Tesser Consulting Group, Valerie offers insights into how new users can get the most out of their Quantrix modeling solution.
Q: What are the most common things that Quantrix users need help with when first getting started?
Valerie Grenier: The first piece is obviously getting a grasp of the multidimensional way we think in Quantrix. We are really concerned with structure of the model – items, categories, or groups – and how we use that structure to perform actions collectively on an item, category, or group. Understanding the relationships between dimensions in the model is essential to creating powerful and efficient models, and to make them work in the best way possible.
Q: What mistakes do people make?
VG: Spreadsheet users are used to thinking in terms of individual cells, so they are constantly trying to do things by clicking in a cell rather than taking the structure into consideration. In Quantrix, everything is a cube, and you want to work on a range of cells – not just one cell.
Once users are comfortable with that, they find adding formulas and formatting to be much easier. Users can write one formula in Quantrix that will calculate a large range of cells, and don’t need to edit it as the model is expanded over time. An understanding of the structure of a model can directly affect how simple or complicated the formulas need to be.
Another mistake that people make is that they create their model based on how they want it to look – that’s because it’s so hard to change things in spreadsheets. But in Quantrix, the first priority should be to structure the formulas so that they are calculating efficiently. For example, people like to create financial reports where a quarterly total is included after every three months. But creating your model that way disrupts the cube – you want to calculate the months one way, the quarter another way, and the annual total a third way. There are a lot of tools to get a model in Quantrix to look the way you want, so people need to focus on efficient calculations.
Q: How can new users get up to speed quickly?
VG: One thing I always tell people is to create a model for something in your everyday life that interests you, such as sports statistics, or tracking a wedding budget. That way, they will get their feet into Quantrix every day. If a model interests them, they are more likely to spend time tweaking it, and they will improve their skills by working on it regularly.
Q: How about formal training?
VG: Formal training can definitely get users there quicker – whether it’s attending a session in-person or online, structured training helps people get further and faster than trying to self teach. I have conducted training for a lot of companies where the first user was self-taught, and he or she schedules formal training for their team before the model is deployed. It never fails — early on in those sessions, the self-taught user says, “I didn’t know that”. An initial investment in training will pay off quickly by helping you get your model built better and quicker.
Q: What features are most important for new users to learn?
VG: New users should master DataLink, Presentation Canvas, and Perspectives. Data Integration and Presentation can take a model from good to fantastic.
Data Link provides a quick, user-friendly way to get data into a model, either from an external data source or another model, without having to manually enter it. If it’s implemented correctly, it’s an easy way to update models and manage data revisions.
The Presentation Canvas allows the modeler to share the output of the model by assembling elements such as data tables, charts, images, and logos. You can use it to make a professional looking report or an interactive dashboard. And Quantrix is developing great technologies to deploy these dashboards to the web via the Quantrix Qloud.
Perspectives is often an overlooked gem in Quantrix. It’s a way to preserve the layout on the screen, and create a systematic workflow. Each matrix and chart in Quantrix is on its own tab, and Perspectives lets you save the arrangement. Let’s say you need a person to work with data in a specific order – you can create a Perspective that they can tab right through. It really enhances the end-user experience of any model.
Q: You’ve traveled all over the world training Quantrix users. Where’s your favorite place?
VG: I like going to new places! Warm weather is preferred.
Tesser Consulting Group offers two- and three-day on-site training packages as well as a rotating catalog of one- and two-hour online training sessions. Many sessions are also available “On Demand”.