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Engine Works Blog

Under the hood of Alteryx: tips, tricks and how-tos.
Alteryx Alumni (Retired)
I’m Garrett Lodewyck, and I recently started working at Alteryx focused on Professional Services. I've written tens of thousands of lines of MapBasic code - maybe even hundreds of thousands: code to standardize, code to digitize, code to combine, code to disaggregate, code to generalize, code to measure, code to publish, code to automate, code to pivot, code to compare, code to document, code to label. I could go on. But never again! I've discovered Alteryx and I couldn't be happier to report that from now on it's “exclude mapbasic.def”.

Map Basic For the past ten years I've been using spatial analytics to aid in infrastructure siting, business intelligence, strategic marketing, asset valuation, situational awareness, forecasting, and financial market projects. Most of this work required MapInfo, ArcGIS, Excel, Oracle, SQL Server and the like. Then a few months ago I downloaded Alteryx Project Edition and the light bulb went on. I thought to myself, "wow, this is how data analytics should work!” Next I lamented the countless hours I've spent diligently coding the processes that Alteryx can automate in seconds with a quick drag-and-drop.

Being the tremendous map and data geek that I am, I knew it wouldn't be enough to simply implement Alteryx at my current job. Instead, I wanted to use Alteryx every day to build cool analytic tools and solve complex business problems, so six weeks ago I joined Alteryx as a project manager on the Professional Services team!

I've already had the opportunity to assist a few Alteryx clients with scoping and building custom analytic apps that address their specific business needs. Very cool stuff. However, one of my first projects at Alteryx was actually to address an internal need. With the demand for custom analytic apps booming, the Professional Services team was pretty busy just scoping and creating proposals, let alone developing solutions. We were in need of a way to quickly and accurately create initial estimates and requirements documentation. Existing templates and processes provided an excellent framework, but they still required a great deal of manual customization.

Of course the solution was an analytic app! The specific inspiration for my "Analytic App Estimator" came from "A Widget Order System", an app available for download in the Public Gallery on the Alteryx Analytics Gallery. "A Widget Order System" provides a sales rep with a simple-to-use interface that produces accurate, consistent language and pricing.

A Widget Order System

The "Analytic App Estimator" (the app I created) produces a draft statement of work, an initial time estimate, and a list of supporting example documents based on selections made by an Alteryx project manager or solution developer. It allows us to quickly and accurately replicate our best practices and present our proprietary expertise to customers. It allows us to get documentation in front of the client within a few hours and to say, "Here is our recommended starting point. How can we alter these functions to better meet your needs and what additional analysis should we tackle, now that we've got the basics squared away?"

Analytic App Estimator

Analytic App Estimator I'll be the first to admit that the "Analytic App Estimator" isn't the most sophisticated tool that's ever been developed, and it certainly can't define the perfect solution for every business intelligence problem - but that was never the point. This particular app was designed to give our projects a standardized foundation to build on. It was designed to be a quick, easy-to-use tool that anyone in the Professional Services line of business could access. On one hand, the "Analytic App Estimator" took only a few hours to build in Alteryx and the underlying assumptions can be tweaked and added to in only a few minutes. On the other hand, we expect it will save us countless hours during the scoping and requirements gathering process. That's valuable time we get to spend building innovative solutions for our customers, rather than writing basic documentation.

As I mentioned, I'm pumped to be one of the newest members of the Alteryx team. Each analytic app I build or borrow gives me two new ideas for what to build next. Each new problem we solve for a client will undoubtedly lead to the next, even more challenging analysis. It’s an exciting time to be involved in data analytics and Alteryx is definitely at the center of it all!
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