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Training for BI Excellence – How we Train Our Employees.

Feb 10, 2017

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Quite a few of Visual BI’s customers are early adopters of BI. One prerequisite to serve this market is a truly market-leading competency in BI — a competency that isn’t restricted to a handful of individuals, but spread across a good portion of our workforce.

Challenges

Operating in the bleeding edge — especially in SAP BI — has its own challenges. Consider this: Typical BI innovations such as SAP HANA, Analysis For Office, and SAP BusinessObjects Design Studio take at least about three to five years to become mainstream (not quite unlike the time it takes for a typical enterprise adoption of a new Windows OS). During this formative period:

  1. There is almost nil talent supply in the market
  2. There are rarely any external training programs to be leveraged
  3. Cutting edge tools & platforms undergo rapid changes as they evolve

In addition, there are couple of challenges unique to SAP BI:

  1. The SAP BI market has been supported by dual talent ecosystems — one for SAP BW and another for SAP BusinessObjects (and similarly now to a lesser extent, for SAP HANA and SAP EIM) — with limited integration expertise. As a result, a typical consultant with strong expertise in SAP BW is likely to have almost nonexistent to basic exposure in SAP BusinessObjects (and vice versa). Even today, it is common for larger consulting firms to have two different practices respectively handling SAP BW and SAP BusinessObjects.
  2. In a similar way, the SAP BI market has a genuine shortage of talent with strong integration expertise in non-SAP BI tools + SAP BW + SAP HANA.

For all the above reasons, we have always known that a structured Training program was going to be more than an investment — a prerequisite. Something that we had to accomplish on our own.

Our Experiments

The beauty of going on our own was that we could design it the way we wanted, and we could tweak it all along. We experimented with self-paced learning, in-classroom training, off-classroom assisted training, webinar-based training, and even programs spread over six weeks with intermittent breaks in schedule to help assimilation. We administered such programs for front-end BI technologies as well as back-end platforms.

Where we stand today: Our 10-Day SAP HANA Training

Instead of describing in generic terms, I’ll show how our internal SAP HANA Modeling training looks today.

1. Prerequisite Programs:

The employee first needs to compete for two self-paced programs — one on SQL and another on In-Memory Data Management — and complete a set of practical exercises (see image). The output is reviewed by our training team, after which the employee is cleared to attend the SAP HANA training program.

SQL Exercises – A Prerequisite for SAP HANA Training


2. Syllabus:

The focus of the HANA Modeling 10-day training program is clearly visible to all stakeholders.

SAP HANA Modeling – The Syllabus meant for Program Participants


3.Instructor Aid Summary:

Meant for the instructors to drive consistency across programs.

SAP HANA Modeling – The Syllabus meant for Program Participants


4. Classroom Exercises:

These are tryouts for the participants during the classroom sessions. A typical training schedule incorporates 1–2 hours of instructor sessions every day, followed by 4–6 hours of classroom exercises for the same day (before the subsequent session the following day). Exercises may draw from multiple concepts as the days progress, and this facilitates participants exposure to common real-life scenarios.

SAP HANA Modeling – The Syllabus meant for Program Participants


5. Final Assessment:

Training doesnt end with classroom exercises. To ensure program effectiveness & assimilation, there is also one final assessment that each participant needs to clear on their own. This mandatory assessment can be taken anytime immediately after the training. The assessment is open-book, and it reflects more complex real-life scenarios — something a notch above in complexity when compared to classroom exercises. Participants are usually given 1–2 days to finish it.

SAP HANA Modeling – The Syllabus meant for Program Participants


6. Final Interview and Certification:

There is a final interview process (yes, for our employees) before certification is awarded. The interview is just a feedback for us to know whether the employee has assimilated what is expected from the program. It also helps us course-correct quickly as the technology evolves.

***

All our internal SAP BI training programs follow a similar pattern. While a lot of the above is not visible to our own customers, Learning & Development (as it is officially known within Visual BI) is an undeniable reason why we enjoy a distinct competitive advantage, and a workforce that is highly proficient.

Note:

  • In one of our upcoming blogs, we’ll also discuss how our Innovation Lab plays a significant role in empowering training & workforce competency.
  • In 2015, we also started rolling out BI Trainings & Workshops to our clients, in a different format with a slightly more user-centric focus. It is a highly successful & popular offering today.

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solutions@visualbi.com


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