Training Your Users for BI4
So far, we’ve covered 6 of the 10 steps to get to SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence 4 (BI4). Today we’ll tackle #3 – Training Your Users for BI4.
Increasing user adoption of business intelligence is a continuous process. However, upgrading your business intelligence platform is a one-time event that requires some focused one-time training activities. In this article, we’ll review best practices for creating a training plan for BI4. BI administrators, developers and users all have different training requirements. In this article, we’ll focus on users.
Training for BI4 is critical to project success, as the interfaces to most of its user facing components have been redesigned. For example, the user portal- renamed as the BI Launch Pad- is significantly different than its predecessor, InfoView XI 3.1. And Web Intelligence 4.x has a user interface that is dramatically different from Web Intelligence XI 3.1 or even Desktop Intelligence XI 3.1. A helpful analogy is the major user interface redesign that occurred between Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft Office 2007/2010/2013. A key UI feature of both Web Intelligence 4.x and recent editions of Microsoft Office is the replacement of toolbars with a “ribbon”. Using such an analogy can help management understand the need to fund your training proposal.
To begin, develop your training plan in tandem with the overall upgrade plan and include training costs in the total budget for the upgrade. Your training plan should be first tied to your organization’s BI strategy before it is tied to a specific budget. Is your organization currently satisfied by the pervasiveness of BI? How can the BI upgrade serve as a catalyst for reaching your desired BI goals?
Next, profile your users and come up with a strategy for each. For example, it’s not uncommon to have casual users, intermediate users, and power users.
For our purposes, we’ll define a casual user as one that consumes business intelligence content but does not necessarily create it. In most organizations, casual users are the largest group using the BI platform. But these users still need to understand how to locate dashboards and reports and interact with them. The BI 4.0 user portal, the BI Launch Pad, is a significant redesign compared to the XI 3.1 InfoView portal, as are the report viewers for Crystal Reports and Web Intelligence. These users are also good candidates for adopting Explorer 4.x, which has an easy to use, but still different user interface.
You’ll want to spend an hour or two with these users, demonstrating how to navigate the folder structure, use platform search, and understand the how to interact with different types of BI content.
Intermediate users are those that are able to create basic content with your business intelligence tools. For example, they should attend SAP’s 2-day introductory training for Web Intelligence. Unlike power users, these users may have a limited understanding of the data. If you’re using training curriculum that relies on sample data, plan on a half or full-day session to teach these users to use actual corporate data.
Power users are the lifeblood of a successful business intelligence deployment. These are the folks in your organization that push both the tools and the data to extreme limits. As business experts who are also tech savvy, these are the individuals both senior executives and line-of-business workers turn to for understanding and resolving business challenges.
Power users should receive the greatest amount of training on the tools. For example, they should attend SAP’s 1-day advanced training for Web Intelligence that follows the 2-day introductory course.
Power users should also participate in the design of your semantic layers, no matter if they are universes or BEx queries. But that’s a conversation for another time.
Centralized vs. Distributed Users
Your training plan will vary depending on whether all users are in a single location like the corporate headquarters or distributed in multiple locations. Although I am personally biased toward classroom training, virtual training or pre-recorded training are viable options when it’s impossible to get everyone to a single training location.
Mobile vs. Desktop Users
For some of your users who are always on-the-go, mobile is the new desktop. Although the SAP Mobile BI app is relatively easy to use, users will require some instruction to get the most from both the application and your corporate data.
Instructor-Led vs. Electronic Learning
Having spent several years as an authorized SAP BusinessObjects trainer, I’m biased toward a live instructor, whether live or virtual. Modern web conferencing software allows a live instructor to be multiple locations at once. Users benefit both from the interaction with the instructor as well as interaction with other users.
Electronic learning is attractive due to its cost advantage, however, it does not allow users to ask questions or go deeper on topics of interest. SAP provides electronic learning materials. Inexpensive video production tools like Camtasia allow business intelligence competency centers to create and distribute their own electronic learning materials.
SAP Education vs. Custom Curriculum
SAP Education curriculum will use sample data, not your organization’s data. This is both a blessing and a curse. Using sample data keeps students focused on using the software, not arguing during class about whether the data is correct. However, it is important to teach users to interact with corporate data. Many organizations use a hybrid approach, beginning with a multi-day course to learn the software (taught by SAP or its partners) followed by a half or full day class about using corporate data (taught by the BICC).
Some Final Thoughts
Train users how to get more training
Use every available opportunity to remind users on how to interact with the Business Intelligence Competency Center, whether for new business requirements or simple usage questions.
For one organization that I worked with, the training department automatically scheduled a training course once a sufficient number of students added the course to their electronic learning plan. At the conclusion of each class, I coached my students to make sure they created and updated their desired training plan.
Always provide satisfaction survey for each training event. Include both closed-ended questions that can be averaged into a KPI as well as open-ended questions that allow students to share their thoughts. Both types of feedback will be important to review again when planning the next system upgrade.
EV Technologies has experience helping organizations of all sizes and training budgets develop and execute training plans for business intelligence. We have recently joined SAP’s authorized education program and can help you find the right curriculum and delivery methods, including e-learning, virtual classroom, and on-site classroom training delivered at your location. Let us be your trusted advisor for creating a training plan for your SAP BusinessObjects BI4 upgrade.