A key area of responsibly at Wellcome is the allocation of funds for research and innovation development in the health sector. The Foundation’s portfolio managers aim to invest approximately £1 billion annually in selected projects.
The Foundation’s Grant Tracker application is at the heart of grant management. It enables the processing of applications, the management of ongoing projects and everything in between. Data engineers in Wellcome Data Labs use Alteryx to bring diverse data into a data warehouse and combine it with information from other sources, such as associated publications or details about researchers. Publicly accessible data, including policy data from the World Health Organisation, is scraped and searched for Wellcome mentions, using pattern recognition and Machine Learning.
According to Natalie Leach, Senior Tableau Analyst at Wellcome, the Grant Tracker is popular with employees – but one important challenge is the inability to see the bigger picture. “People can use the Grant Tracker to process applications, view different grants. However, it doesn’t provide a clear, aggregated view of the research portfolio – the status of individual research programs and their performance. That’s what was really missing before we introduced Tableau and our data warehouse,” she says.
In 2017 Wellcome began a journey to modernise its analytics capabilities. It built a new data warehouse, engineered for self-service analytics. It standardised on Tableau Server as the analysis layer of its data warehouse, with approximately 200 employees regularly accessing the system. “Time and again, people come up to me and say they are seeing insights that were not there before. This has been really, really useful for people.”
The way people use data is changing too - it’s smarter, faster and significantly more rewarding.
Natalie explains, “At the end of every month, one of the data analysts in the grants team would run these SQL queries, and then send out emails to people. That absorbed so much of everyone’s time. Using Tableau, the grants team can now just self-serve. At any time during the month, they can keep an eye on the data, drill into any anomalies, and discover new insights. That wasn’t possible before.”