What to do with all that data? (We know.)

Data, data everywhere – but how can you use it to build your business? Proekspert’s data team tells you how they do it.

Please tell us your name and how long have you worked at Proekspert? 

My name is Urmas Kobin and I’ve been with the company a bit over 11 years. At the moment, that’s almost one-quarter of my entire life. Here, I’ve been mostly in business development, but I started off years before Proekspert as a general IT guy, a programmer and system administrator and what not. It was the ‘90s so if you knew your way around a computer, you were a made man.

Currently I lead our BI & Data Analytics business unit.

My name is Jana Ratassepp, and I have been working for Proekspert for over 11 years. I started as a System Administrator and Technical Support Consultant working closely with BI analysts, data engineers, and data scientists. In March 2022, I started working as a Delivery Lead.

Please introduce your unit and how it operates.

Urmas: For starters, it is not my unit, it’s our unit. It is a part of Proekspert, as are any of the engineers or accountants or friends of janitors. I’ve been a fanboy of getting value out of data for some time now, so it seemed like a perfect place to be.

The unit itself is about turning data into information. And making that information available. And understandable. And reliable. To put it another way, we build solutions that enable companies to accumulate data from different sources, structure it, and then use it for improvements. The improvements, then, can be decisions made, based on reports by humans or automated by AI.  

Jana: Our unit is called the Business Intelligence and Data Analytics unit, and we have been operating in Proekspert for about 25 years. We build solutions that help organizations collect data from a variety of systems and sources, and turn that data into meaningful information which helps users to make strategic, tactical, and operational business decisions. We focus on modern cloud technologies, but our experience includes on-premise solutions and industry-standard, front-end tools also.

Our work falls in three main categories:

  • Data infrastructure and engineering
  • BI and data analytics
  • Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning

How many team members do you have and what are their positions? 

Urmas: As of the beginning of 2023, we’re the smallest unit in Proekspert with around 22 people.

If you consider that a meaningful and efficient team size is three to five people, we would have four to six project teams. But we’ve got more.

Positions – we have many. And these are sometimes too flexible and overlapping. We have one-man bands, we have symphony orchestras, and so on. That’s what’s usually called flexibility.

On one hand, as a service company, you can’t always standardize. But as a premium engineering and business partner, I think we must operate more on our own terms. Thus, less flexibility. And oftentimes it’s good – better clarity of the roles and responsibilities.

Also, one thing to keep in mind – your position doesn’t necessarily equal your role. 

Jana: We have three main positions: Analysts, Data Engineers, and Data Scientists, but within any one position can be multiple roles.

We work closely with other units in Proekspert to help each other find commonalities  and offer full service to our clients.

What are the hot projects in your unit at the moment? 

Urmas: I think that a common denominator at Proekspert would be software development projects. Software can appear in many forms – mobile app, some web portal, smart device or a data warehouse. Essentially, it’s all software. 

What makes the difference here, is actually the business. What do you want to streamline or automate in your business by using software? You always have to keep that in mind the question – what’s it for? Whether this code that I’m writing at the moment will make the world a better place or is it just some random crap, driven by insane hype.

But philosophical ranting aside, I think all the things we are currently working on are pretty hot.

Also, I really like the topics where we can use our synergy with the other units. Like I said, it’s all software, different units just focus on different parts of it. Just like building a house requires carpenters, masons, painters, and so on. 

Jana: Despite the fact that we’re Proekspert’s smallest unit, we handle a lot of projects. The common denominator for all these projects is data. By using a bunch of different technologies, we develop solutions that help you run your business better. 

One of our clients’ biggest challenges is to draw data from multiple locations and integrate different systems, applications, and databases which seamlessly communicate with each other and provide useful and reliable information for their business.

We do this by setting up a data warehouse (DWH), where we centralize data and simplify the logic for its consumption to easily analyze your business’ data. It increases data availability, boosts efficiency in analytical activity, improves the quality of information needed for reporting, and makes working with data secure.  

We help our clients make better and faster decisions by using business intelligence tools and leveraging a data-science approach that comprises statistical- and machine learning techniques.

We help visualize your data with interactive reports and intuitive dashboards that make analytics understandable and manageable for everyone.

We support you in embedding analytics into your products and services to improve your overall business performance, strengthen customer loyalty, and help you detect new growth opportunities.

We assist organizations in transferring their data to a new BI environment and data warehouse solutions. We help our clients accommodate evolving business requirements by re-using previous investments in data warehouse content and their legacy installations.

We do a lot more than this, but the above gives a good overview of the main topics.

What are the challenges in your unit? 

Urmas: We’ve lagged behind in the BI business some years ago, maybe previously trying to do everything at once and having too wide a reach. For example, we have represented one platform provider for many years but we decided to drop that business, meaning selling licenses, mostly. 

Not representing any certain tech anymore allows us to be unbiased when it comes to devising the best solutions for our clients. So having a better focus, clearer services, and the unit knowledge, experience and skill portfolio to support it, is a challenge. 

Another challenge is to make BI agile. I’ve heard many people saying that it’s not doable. But I’ve done it recently and I intend to continue on that path. 

The challenges are nice. A challenge needs to tickle your ego as an engineer (I still think of myself as an engineer, doesn’t matter that nowadays I’m mostly engineering business), it makes you move, it motivates you.

Jana: Our goal and our main challenge is to grow our unit by increasing the number of professionals in our unit, growing our client base, and our project number and scope.

We have more long-term projects than short ones. Our challenge is to keep our professionals happy by offering them a variety of work and tasks, so they gain new knowledge and skills in these long-term projects. New team members in our long-term projects should never affect client satisfaction.

Usually, we start our projects with a smaller number of team members. It would be nice to catch a big fish – a rather large client – and start work with a bigger team.

Can you tell us what an “average” day at the office looks like?  

Urmas: I think there’s no average day. There are routines that keep an organization going, and these can be averaged to a certain extent. But trying to lead a business unit is like a roller coaster. You just have to remain sane and try not to puke too often.

But on a more serious note, I actually try to be in touch with the projects in our unit (and also in other units) as much as possible. I help out wherever I can and don’t bother people too much. I like to discuss things in person. With some people we discuss issues with their projects quite often, and I always try to push them to make up their own mind about the issues. I know that they are more knowledgeable about these things but just need some reassurance for making decisions.

I like to empower people and guide them to make their own decisions but sometimes it may look like I’m just trolling you. That skill I need to improve, I think.

Jana: We do hybrid work, which means that you can work remotely, in the office, or a bit of both. Half of our team is in the Tallinn office and the other half in the Tartu office, so we are used to remote working. 

Mostly we use agile methodology for project management. In most cases, agile is implemented in the form of a working framework known as Scrum, over short work beats called sprints. 

At Proekspert, every employee has a lot of individual freedom to get the job done. Decision making is decentralized. The people who really thrive in this environment tend to be good at self-management.

Our work language is English due we have international clients and teammates.

From my perspective, there is a lot of multitasking. There is lots of communication and support in my daily job, helping to start projects and find the right professionals for our project teams, staying on track with our projects, supporting recruitment,  providing useful information and giving updates to our unit members, keeping a good vibe and level of satisfaction in our unit, cooperating with other units, helping support customers, talking with and providing information to stakeholders, etc. Also, I still work part time as a technical support specialist within our projects. I like to be part of a project team since it gives me the opportunity to keep and improve my technical skills. It also allows me to work more efficiently and directly with both clients and our unit members on a variety of projects, and quickly discover pain points which I as a delivery lead should deal with.

Both of you have been with Proekspert a long time. What’s made you happy here? 

Jana: I like our business culture, work environment and  open communication between our colleagues. Also, I like that we have so many opportunities to grow, gain new knowledge, and try something new, even change professions within the organization. It’s never boring here.

Urmas: I’m not out for happiness in my professional life. It seems kind of out of place. I’d instead choose adjectives like proud, satisfied, and so on. But for some weird reason, I am happy here, too.

What qualities make you fit in at Proekspert? 

Jana: I believe I’m experienced in many different areas and roles, I have a technical background, I’m goal oriented, and I like to take responsibility and work with people.

Urmas: What has kept me here over all that time is perhaps that my way of doing things kind of matches our culture. I like to fix things when I see them in need of fixing. Also, my attitude has proven to work most of the time. Not always, mind you, but like I said before, I’m learning to be better too.

I always want to get to the bottom of things, I ask – WHY? And I don’t hesitate to say something if I think things aren’t as they should be. 

What kind of advice would you give to a newcomer? 

Urmas: If you come, don’t come as a newbie or poser. Don’t try to be something that you’re not – which will eventually bite you in the ass. Relax; don’t rush. Think before you act. Try to add some good ingredients to the mix. I’m sure you know something that we don’t. And, of course, socialize: that way we can figure you out more quickly :).

Jana: We appreciate good professionals. If you are willing to learn and are not afraid of new challenges, you’re welcome to join us.

Tech Tomorrow

Receive our weeky newsletter! Inspiring ideas that are worth your time


Go smarter with Proekspert.

Please fill in the contact form below and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

Thank You!

Your message has been sent. Our team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Close this window
Close icon