Like most software companies, Quantrix offers technical support on its products. But unlike many software companies, the Quantrix help desk is not outsourced to an external provider – it is staffed by employees of our parent company, IDBS, a developer of software solutions for scientific research and discovery. So, when you call for help, you reach a member of our team. Here’s an introduction to one of our Lead Support Analysts, Dr. Alison Campbell.
What is the support team like?
There are 12 of us based in Guildford, England, and we all have a science background. Nine of us have PhDs, and the remaining three have Masters degrees, so we’re probably one of the best-qualified help desks around! My background is in Toxicology and Biochemistry, and I have a PhD in Biomolecular Medicine.
Both Quantrix and IDBS have customers around the world – how do you manage the calls?
We work on a shift basis, and the help desk is open from 8:00 AM to 1:00 AM UK time. Everyone is trained in all products, so there is always someone on hand to answer questions on Quantrix. No one has to wait for a specific person. We work closely with the development and testing teams if there is a more complex issue that we haven’t seen before or need extra input on.
What kind of calls do you get?
It varies from simple questions such as, “what does this error mean?” to something more complex where a model doesn’t calculate the way they want. We then step through all of their tables and calculations to see if there is a problem with the software or with the model. In addition to answering calls via the phone, we also publish information in the knowledge base so that people can search for answers.
What happens when you get requests for new features?
We work closely with the Product Manager at Quantrix to pass along any enhancement requests for future releases.
What advice can you give to Quantrix users about how to get the most out of their support experience?
If something’s urgent, fire us up – we are always here to help. We will ask you to send your models so that we can troubleshoot. We do screen-sharing sessions so we can troubleshoot directly on your system. We also do support via email, which is helpful for non-native English speakers. We try to give our customers as many options as possible, and help you in the way that’s best.
What do you do in your free time when you’re not supporting Quantrix and IDBS users?
I just had a baby boy, and I’ve only been back from parental leave for a few months. We like to travel, and have been to Morocco and to Kenya on safari. But travel might have to go on hold for a few years – it’s all about the baby!
Essla International is a Quantrix partner, and recently started using the business modeling solution to help its clients with budgeting and financial forecasting. At the 2014 Seminar by the Sea, Ernesto Seijas took some time to share his experiences using Quantrix.
The company had several criteria in mind when it was looking for a new software solution, including connectivity to databases, the ability to manage a lot of data, and multidimensional views and found Quantrix to be the best solution.
In addition to meeting everything on the company’s wish list, Quantrix offered a more collaborative environment. “We can have 20, 30, 50 users inputting data – that’s a major difference,” says Seijas. Other benefits include the speed of calculation and reporting.
Seijas also likes Quantrix’s graphical canvas, as it enables him to display what-if scenarios in a dynamic presentation. This capability enhances the impact of Essla’s work, particularly when sharing with management or company boards.
“Quantrix has the best of many of the software [packages] in the market,” says Seijas. “You have the multidimensional approach. You have the data gathering and databases. And you have the reporting and the [fast] calculations.”
Watch the full video to learn more.
Charity Hegel is the Director of Finance at Litehouse, Inc., an Idaho-based firm that makes salad dressings, dips, and sauces. A team of folks from Litehouse participated in the 2014 Seminar by the Sea, and Hegel sat down with us to discuss the company’s use of Quantrix.
Prior to using Quantrix, the team relied on Excel for financial modeling, what-if scenarios, and financial planning, but found it had outgrown it. Getting the information they needed was too cumbersome and required too many formulas. What was worse, the company didn’t have confidence in the output. “The credibility…was just not what we needed it to be,” says Hegel.
Litehouse recently made the switch to Quantrix, and is thrilled with the results. It has slashed the time required to accomplish certain tasks from weeks to minutes, opening up more time for data analysis and insight.
“We used to spend 90 percent of our time compiling data and 10 percent looking at data and analyzing the data,” says Hegel. “I would say we now spend 20 percent of our time compiling the data, which leaves us 80 percent of our time to analyze, bring insight, do business reviews, and actually turn the headlights on for the organization.”
The multidimensional capabilities of Quantrix have enabled Litehouse to better model the business and deliver insight to company leadership so they could make data based decisions.
“The perspective, the insight, the analysis that [Quantrix] will bring to your business – it really will revolutionize the way you look at your business and your industry,” says Hegel.
Watch the full video to learn more.
Business Pro is a Mexico City-based consulting firm that helps large companies in Mexico and throughout the world to improve their business forecasting and budgeting. At the 2014 Seminar by the Sea, Business Pro’s David Chibras talked with us about his use of Quantrix, and the benefits it has for improving business management.
One of the most valuable features of Quantrix, according to Chibras, is the integrity of the models produced and the insight they deliver. “[Quantrix] gives the capacity to spend more time analyzing the data, not just fixing spreadsheet issues,” says Chibras.
He also notes Quantrix’s ability to develop what-if scenarios – companies can adjust specific points and see the impact of changes at the business management level.
Quantrix’s cloud-based options also are important to Chibras, who likes that modelers can build apps provide tailored access to ensure that users see just the information that impacts them. “Management can now have a really simple interface that can give them complex solutions,” says Chibras. “They can see what’s going on, they can make changes, and don’t have to [be involved with] modeling processes.”
Watch the full video to learn more about David Chibras’ use of Quantrix for business forecasting and budgeting.
At the 2014 Seminar by the Sea, Christie Kent of Lipkie Consulting delivered a presentation to the attendees on developing cash flow waterfalls using Quantrix. We sat down with her during the event to learn more about why she chose Quantrix, and how it has helped her business.
As she notes, she used to use Excel to develop models for clients, until a client asked for a project that could not be done in Excel. She researched numerous financial software packages to find one that would meet her needs, and only Quantrix was able to deliver.
“Quantrix provided a solution that was ideal for this type of cash flow waterfall,” says Kent. “I didn’t have to reproduce the logic over and over – I used the same logic for each level of the waterfall… all I had to do was add another level, and the logic continued.”
In addition, she found that it was easy to add new investors to the model, and simply modify the assumptions. Quantrix has become her primary modeling solution, enabling her to support the complex structures of Lipkie Consulting’s clients.
Kent has discovered that the ease of use of Quantrix is just one benefit: “The accuracy of information is so much better with Quantrix,” she says.
Watch the full video to learn more about Christie Kent’s use of Quantrix to develop cash flow waterfalls.
The Quantrix team is energized after hosting our customers from around the world at our eighth annual Seminar by the Sea. This event, held in our headquarters city of Portland, Maine, gives us a chance to connect more closely with our customers, from Fortune 500 companies to small business owners. We shared information about our products, services, and company outlook, but more importantly, we got the chance to learn from our customers about how they are using Quantrix products in their environment. Plus, we managed to have some time to relax and network on an informal basis. Following are some of the highlights of this year’s event:
- Quantrix beginners had their own track of sessions that introduced them to the product and the essentials of model building. They also learned how to structure logic, formulas, and function as well as understand the presentation tools of Quantrix. Other introductory sessions included basics that every Quantrix user should know, including the sample model library and the support portal, and how to build dynamic presentation canvasses.
- Advanced users participated in hands-on sessions to explore features such as DataLink, DataNAV, and DataPush and to learn new skills such as building scorecard models. The final day of the seminar included a full day scripting workshop, where customers brought their own scripts in to be reviewed by the Quantrix team.
- Other sessions were conducted for the full group, including those that spelled out the Quantrix road map, introduced some upcoming product features and brainstorms around future product features, and shared best practices in model performance and scalability.
As always, among the most popular sessions of the Seminar were the presentations from customers. This year’s presenters included Charity Hegel, Kim Oleson, Derek Christensen, Matt Burrows, and Rich Lopez from Litehouse; Christie Kent from Lipkie Consulting; and George Pappas from MotionSoft. These people shared information about their models and how they use them within their companies, and answered questions from the audience. They were all great about continuing to answer questions during the networking times, as well – everyone wanted to learn more about these advanced implementations.
As in years past, we dedicated a block of time for one-on-one consulting sessions with members of our team. This year, the sessions were completely booked up almost immediately after we announced them – we were really excited that so many of our customers took advantage of this opportunity.
We had some great evening activities as well, including a sail on an historic schooner in Casco Bay. We’re not sure which was more popular – the gorgeous view of Casco Bay and its islands and the dramatic sunset sky, or the lobster dinner. People “from away” were excited to see the buffet piled high, and to grab a second (or third!) lobster.
The event was a success for Quantrix, but the true measure is when it’s a success for our customers. As one attendee said on the evaluation form, “I think Quantrix is the best kept secret in business modeling. At the networking session I was pleased with people speaking with as much passion about the product as I have.”
We thank everyone for attending. If you didn’t get a chance to come to this year’s event, we hope you can join us for next year’s event. Just watch this space, or send email to email@example.com to be included on the list for when we announce the dates.
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?
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”.