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Notification Agents: A Hidden Treasure (1 of 4)

September 24, 2018

#TARGITTUTORIALS: This is the first of four blog posts examining what you can do with TARGIT Notification Agents, and how they can add value to your TARGIT® solution. Each blog post will take you further into the functionality of Notification Agents by exploring 10 use cases. Each use case will be documented in video format as well.

Blog post No. 1:
  • What are Notification Agents and where do they fit within the TARGIT® landscape?
  • What are best practices when using Notification Agents?
  • What are the prerequisites?
  • How to make your first Notification Agent (Use Case No. 1)
  • How to do a test run of your first Notification Agent
Blog post 1 will also cover the prerequisites to using Notification Agents in TARGIT®. 

Blog post No. 2:
  • How to test against a goal metric (Use Case No. 2)
  • How to monitor an entire population and pinpoint problems (Use Case No. 3)
  • How to check if a certain number has been brought down to an acceptable level within a specific timeframe (Use Case No 4)
  • How to make notifications without an underlying data object (Use Case No 5)

Blog post No. 3:
  • How to work with data quality using Notification Agents
    - How to check for missing registrations (Use Case No. 6)
    - How to check that unknown values are being handled (Use Case No. 7)
  • How to check for extreme values, aka fraud detection (Use Case No. 8)
  • How to monitor a value calculated inside TARGIT (Use Case No. 9)
  • How to monitor user engagement in TARGIT (Use Case No. 10)

Blog post No 4:
  • How to manage Notification Agents
  • How to control who can manage Notification Agents
  • How to control who can create Notification Agents
  • Final discussion on Notification Agents and their place in your strategy
Blog post 4 will take a deep dive into Notification Agents from an administrative perspective. The fourth blog post also features a discussion on where to place TARGIT Notification Agents in your general TARGIT® strategy.

Notification Agents in the TARGIT Landscape

The Notification Agent is your TARGIT® Swiss Army Knife, and to my experience, it’s not used to its full potential at almost any TARGIT® implementation I have encountered. It is a multipurpose feature that allows you to monitor your data and assign actions whenever certain incidents occur.

Notification Agents can potentially save you a lot of time and frustration by pinpointing the issues you need to be aware of and act upon. They are available to all TARGIT® customers regardless of their license type.

A Notification Agent should always be linked to an Action. That action could be to summon a meeting, change your business procedures or just investigate what the underlying reason might be – however, a Notification Agent should never just be noted.

To make a Notification Agent you need to be a Designer and use the TARGIT® Windows Client.(However, if you upgraded your TARGIT® solution and still hold some Advanced licenses, these are also allowed to make Notification Agents). To receive Notifications, you just need an email account.

In the big picture, you have several tools within TARGIT® Decision Suite to distribute information across the organization and Notification Agents is one of them: 

Figur1
People, Data and Scenarios are different. In this series on Notification Agents, we present you with 10 Use Cases to inspire you to include Notification Agents in your Data Distribution strategy.

Prerequisites


To enable TARGIT® to send out emails, you need to have an SMTP server registered within TARGIT® Management. 

To set up email service:
  • Open TARGIT® Management 
  • Choose the Setup Tab in the left-hand menu and then choose Alerts and Notifications from the right-hand menu (circled in red below).

Figur2
Now fill out the name of your SMTP Server and other required data (in this case, we used a Google SMTP Server as an example).

For technical questions regarding the SMTP server, please refer to the TARGIT® Decision Suite Installation Guide, which can be downloaded from the TARGIT® Portal.

Figur3
Now you are ready to start using Notification Agents in your TARGIT® solution.

Use Case No. 1 – Monitor one value against goal/goal metric


Problem to be solved

Now we're back in the TARGIT® Windows Client.

We've created a simple KPI object showing the overall Absence Percentage of Previous Month (for this particular use case, you would need a measure called Absence Percentage in your data).

Figur4   
The KPI object reveals an Absence Percentage of almost 25% for the previous month, which is quite alarming. 

We decide to set up some actions with department leaders until the Absence Percentage has fallen to a level below or equal to 10%.

To support that process we set up a Notification Agent to monitor the Absence Percentage once a month and send out alarms until we have reached a maximum level of 10%.

How to get started
Behind the KPI is a simple crosstab with a Dynamic Filter that says Previous Month (note: Since this screenshot was created in May 2018, it shows Apr 2018).

Figur5

If you right-click the number (24.98%), you get some options on the right-click menu. 

As shown here you simply choose Agent – Monitor this value to make a Notification Agent.

Figur6 
Condition Tab
Now you enter a Dialogue with five tabs on the left-hand side. The first tab says Condition, and we will create a suitable condition before continuing to next tab.
Figur7 
By using the dropdown and choosing “is greater than” and typing in 0,1 (since it’s a percentage, this means 10%), we create this condition:
Figur8 
Criteria Tab
On the Criteria tab, we learn that TARGIT® has inherited the Filter Previous Month from the Analysis. We also notice that you can actually add and delete criteria on this tab if desired (circled in red below). In this case, we are happy with the inherited filter, so we just proceed to the next tab.
Figur9 
General Tab
Here you can enable/disable an agent (we leave it enabled).

You can give this particular Notification Agent a Name. (Note: The administration of Notification Agents will be much easier if you come up with a naming convention within your company).

The owner of a Notification Agent will by default be the creator. However, by using the drop-down next to User, you can actually give the Ownership to another user of TARGIT® within your company. (Ownership means that you can test run, edit or delete the Notification Agent).

Language decides the Language of the email that might be triggered by the Notification Agent.

The checkmark on Send mail on errors or warnings means that if something goes wrong and the Notification Agent cannot do its job (which is to examine the Condition and send an email if the condition is met), the system will notify nt@targit.com that the Notification Agent has failed to complete that task.


Note: We recommend that Send mails on errors or warnings is always checked, since you might otherwise have a sense of false security if you don’t receive any notifications.
Figur10 
Schedule Tab
On this tab, you choose the frequency with which the TARGIT® Server should examine your condition. 

First, you choose whether it should be by time or when the cube has been refreshed (you can also combine these).

In this case, we go by time schedule only – beginning the 7th of May 2018, TARGIT® will examine whether our condition is met every first Monday of the month at 7 AM. (Note: There are many options for Frequency by minute, hour, day, week, month, year etc. Only a portion is covered here).

Note that you can also set up an agent to run for a limited period of time (End Date).
Figur11 
Delivery Tab
Here, you set up the email address of the person(s) selected as recipient(s) of the Notification Agent. Multiple recipients should be typed in the To: column, with a semicolon separating each entry. The From address is optional.

Subject can be auto-generated, which will result in a dynamic title that explains why you received this email. If you type in your own subject, it will be static.

If you type in something in the actual message, you have the option to have some links in the email going back to the KPI object that the Notification Agent was created from and back to the job we are currently creating. 

The last two options require that the recipient(s) are TARGIT® Designers with Windows Clients installed.

Figur12
Once you click OK, the job is created and now waits for the first Monday of June to occur. 

Execute job to tesT

To locate your newly created job, choose the File Ribbon and click on the Scheduled Jobs button.

Figur13

On the job list, you’ll see a line representing the job just created:

Figur15
 
Just right-click that line and choose Run Now.
 
This particular job sends an email when the condition is met. The email might look like this. (Note: The dynamic subject stating that the reading on Absence is 24,98).
Figur16
This concludes our tutorial on building your very first Notification Agent in TARGIT®. 

Next in this blog series we’ll examine much more complex use cases. 

Stay tuned!

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