So 2010 is now fully in swing and wow is it swinging!
Supply and Demand
The demand for OBIEE resource is probably higher than I have seen for more than two years. We are not quite in the heady days of Siebel 7.8 but not far off. Oracle have done a good job of continuing to sell the OBIEE package despite the supposed poor economic conditions and imminent release of 11g (did I say imminent!).
A search on Jobserve this week will provide over 2 pages of roles, and not too much duplication, and there are dozens of other sites (including LinkedIn) advertising roles. This is despite several projects stopping or cutting back and letting people leave.
Rates are encouraging but can sometimes be somewhat farcical. Last week I saw an advert for a skilled experienced professional on OBI Apps – and they wanted to pay 150 per day! Surely a typo?
I still stand by the view that clients must pay for your experience, skills, training and more importantly, flexibility. Rates should reflect not only the sum of your consulting but also include an element for the travel and being away from home factor.
Some projects I know well have understood that they have to pay properly for the best experience and they are the ones that are attracting the best talent.
Someone asked me today how many Freelance and tied consultants there are in the UK, so I went through my contact list and estimate there are around 70 freelance consultants in total, but I would have to guess at the number of in-house consultants there are, and my guess is 100.
This includes several who I know are on long term roles and 6 of us on my current client!
The weakness of the british pound has seen a general level of movement back into Europe of imported workers in the whole of the UK economy, and for OBIEE this may well have been true but I don’t think there were many OBIEE workers in the UK anyway – there has been plenty of work in Europe not to warrant coming over here.
The UK still has a high level of imported workers to fill perceived gaps. We are slowly seeing more UK based consultants entering the freelance market and the most of the ones I personally know have the right attitude and skills to do well in the market. Some do not, and these are the ones I am most worried about. Whilst there is a slight shortage of highly skilled resources clients are taking on people who undermine the credibility of the product.
Mark Rittman and John Minkjan have both stressed the importance of your skills, not just on a single technical level buth also with client facing skills. The art of the BI consultant is to educate all of those effected by the work – not just the end users, but the managers and IT people whom you rely on (e.g. Database managers, testing teams, etc)
There is one skill that I want to highlight more than any other, as being the most important technical skill you should understand before attempting an OBIEE project. KIMBALL. Get your STAR schema database sorted out and you will have an easy platform to build reports on. If you are struggling with the business model, or reporting, it’s probably because you have broken the laws of Kimball.
OBIEE (nee Siebel Analytics) was clearly built to satisfy a STAR schema so give it what it wants.
One more thing. I sometime hear from less experienced consultants that ‘xxx is a bug’ – often it turns out that the consultant does not fully understand how to do something and tries to hide behind the clients lack of knowledge.
I encourage every client to make good use of their Oracle Support, and make sure that any implied ‘bug’ is raised with Oracle. They will tell you how to deal with most situations.
I must re-iterate to everyone who is recruiting any OBIEE resources – Get them checked out.
Reference check. Make sure that you have a recent relevant check on their team working skills, and client facing skills. Find out why they left their last project, and the one before that, and the one before that etc. Don’t just rely on LinkedIn references (which are important too), talk to other consultants who worked with them already.
Technical Skills Check. Get someone with good technical knowledge to develop a technical test, or use the Rittman Mead tech test (It’s free – contact me for details).
Time after time clients, agents and even myself are fooled by those who know some of the buzzwords, and have had a year or two of experience, but actually cannot develop a report to save their life. So get them checked before it’s too late. And no, the agent does not check – agent do not kow how to skills check, that is why you shoud ALWAYS use a specialist OBIEE consultancy
A Note on contracts. We all hate paperwork, but there is one price of paper that is vital for you as an employer or as a contractor – The contract. As an employer make sure you can get rid of consultants that do not measure up. Don’t be afraid to ask them to leave and get someone better instead.
As a contractor, make sure your contract is IR35 safe (use the PCG).