There Is Another Way: Helping Your Clients Uncover Hidden Solutions

As consultants, we’re often put in a position where we need to find the unturned stone that uncovers a new (and often preferred) solution which meets the client’s timeline, is cost effective and most feasible.

Our team worked with a client recently whose security team was concerned about their organization’s privacy as they were hoping to grant access to the external Tableau server to pull up the image files to be visualized in the dashboard. They wanted to share these images with clients; however, their internal drive contained receipts not only for their customers but also for other departments with sensitive information. The drive also contained a lot of internal reports—none of which the client wanted to share with Tableau.

Accessing real-time images or better said as ‘unstructured’ data from the Tableau front-end isn’t that complicated, but we heard the client’s request loud and clear: they would prefer not to share these images directly to the Tableau server. When the obvious answer wouldn’t work, you need to help the client find another way.

Your client has a problem; how can you help them overcome it? Here are four steps your consulting team should take to get clients back on track. 

1. Understand where they are right now

As a consultant, you need to understand where your client is right now. Take stock of their current processes and what they are trying to achieve. For this client, it was critical to them that customers only had access to their specific receipts in order to keep all other customers’ information secure.

Moreover, our team worked hard to understand our client’s current setup. Believe it or not, they sent each customer receipt by email, a very time-consuming process. Once you understand the current-state of things, you can begin to figure out where the organization should go next and how they could potentially get there. Understanding the current-state always helps in coming up with long-term strategy.

2. Give options and explain the technical aspects of each

As Goldilocks will tell you, not all options are “just right.” Nevertheless, presenting all potential solutions for your client to consider is a good thing. As technical consultants, we often forget that our clients may not be as tech-savvy so take the time to sell the pros as well as the cons that come with each solution. Is Option A less secure? Would Option B be less maintenance for the team going forward? Will Option C grow with them?

Take the time to meet with your clients and answer any questions they have as this will help you choose the best option for them and their organization’s needs. There is always more than one solution to a problem. For this client, our team recommended a similar solution using R integration, sending individual reports to customers with corresponding receipt images using their internal server, and copying specific imaging to an external FTP location from where Tableau server could access the files. We also recommended a Python script method, which created a process to copy the required image files from the internal drive to a custom folder created in Tableau from where the image will be accessed from the Tableau desktop using the URL action feature. 

After presenting each proposed process, discussing technical complexities and maintenance needs, the client chose the Python script solution.

3. Design the accepted process and perform a trial

Once the client makes their selection, it’s up to your team to design the accepted process. I can tell you from personal experience that if you rush the process, you won’t get the desired results. Have your team take the time to thoroughly test the process to ensure you are understanding all the parts. At the same time, create documentation for the client to refer to as you develop the solution, so they can recreate this process as necessary. Run the entire process end-to-end and communicate the results to your clients. A peace of mind going into a major deployment goes a long way.

Our team tested the Python script in an environment to ensure we caught any errors before deploying it. As a result, the solution was implemented successfully. 

4. Deploy and set-up check-ins to success post-implementation

Once you deploy, the work isn’t over. You partnered with your clients to find the best solution together. You need to ensure that you’ve done what your team said it was going to do.

At Archetype, we typically use a 30-day warranty period and check-in on a weekly basis with our clients during that time frame. Is anything broken? Is this working as the client wants it to? If there are any issues that come up, the client gets in touch to fix it.

A consultant’s most important job is listening to their clients. Only then can you truly understand their needs. Only then can you uncover potential solutions.

The need for accessing unstructured data for visualization is always in demand. Asking the right questions during our Tableau training sessions, helped us discover the “URL Action” feature in Tableau. When the opportunity presented itself to make use of this great feature, we as a team, were well known and this helped us come up with the quick and feasible solution for our client needs.

It is always best to go with a few solution recommendations and present it in the priority that fits your specific client needs. This will help your client brainstorm, understand the options and go with the best fit for their requirements.