Don't Mess with my Self-Service

If you want self-service for your entire enterprise, ensure the right level of control to avoid chaos.

So, let’s talk about self-service. Something we love to talk about at Qlik, and something our customers appreciate about our software. Nothing warms the heart of the IT and BI department more than users being able to create their own analytics – or does it?

Many of our customers implement a new BI platform in much the same way. Start out small – maybe a few apps in a single department, used by a handful of people. There’s no need for heavy handed security or controls because it’s just a few – few apps, few users, few data sources – take your pick. Users start learning how to get insights, create new apps, add new data sources, and share with more users. Then WHAM – you’ve got dozens of apps across hundreds of users. You’ve now entered “The Chaos Zone.”

Self-service is great, right up until it creates chaos. Users are changing apps that are the gold standard for the executives, users are using data sources that they wouldn’t normally access, and most importantly, users are seeing potentially sensitive information that should be kept private and secure. What can you do?

I sat down with two of our Qlik Consulting Services professionals, Anuwat Raviwongse and Kehinde Barkley, who have extensive experience in helping customers set up centers of excellence and governed self-service. They helped me understand what they are, how they work, and when to start.

Provide self-service #BI to users across the org by ensuring the right level of control:

Let’s begin with a discussion around the Center Of Excellence (COE). Anuwat explained that whatever you call it, what he’s referring to is the setting up of rules, responsibilities, proper controls and processes to ensure a gold standard experience without inhibiting users from getting the most out of their BI platform. It’s defining the operating model that helps manage the balance between what responsibility the users are willing to take and what IT is willing to let go, versus what is better served by IT for all parties. It is also a set of rules that balance how much self-service is distributed versus what criteria-led activity should be centrally governed. Every organization is different, and in some companies, every department is different – which is why Anuwat first spends a great amount of time with the users to truly understand how much risk they are willing to accept. From this, he can identify and document what and where the controls are best governed that become the foundation of the customer’s COE strategy – broken down by business unit, by department, and by user type.

I was curious, given how many customers start out small, when does it make sense to start creating a COE? Anuwat shared that as soon as a customer starts to think about how to organize their BI apps into folders (or streams for you Qlik Sense people), that’s a good indication that it’s time. At this stage, a customer is deciding which users need which apps and how to manage access.

Alternatively, we also have had customers who were planning to deploy Qlik across their entire enterprise right from the start, so they proactively set up a COE from the beginning. This is especially helpful in those situations where Qlik is deployed across multiple departments simultaneously, each starting to develop apps for their own use cases. But, either way, most organizations are going to need to think through and define their own COE strategy at some stage in their BI platform lifecycle.

In Part 2, I will go into more details of what’s involved in the actual deployment of the COE that provides the governed self-service that everyone is aspiring for. In the meantime, if you want to learn more on how Qlik Consulting can help you develop a center of excellence strategy, visit

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