5 Common Business Intelligence Project Mistakes #4

5 Common Business Intelligence Project Mistakes #4

Fourth in a 5-part series

Mistake #4:

You fail to implement a proper training program.

What’s the use of a new BI (business intelligence) tool if no one is using it? Imagine a situation where you were given a shiny new car on your birthday, yet you have no idea how to drive. It does not matter how powerful it is, you will not be able to use the car until you learn how to drive.

The same principle applies to the BI tool – you have to educate users on how to use the benefit. For instance, at the very minimum, the users should know how to apply Dashboard filters, how to reset them, how to do sorting and sub-totaling, and of course how to export the data. Also, it would be helpful if they learn how to subscribe to alerts/agents – automated reports emailed at certain events. The super users (usually involved with the project since the beginning) should know how to use the ad-hoc tool (such as Answers in Oracle Business Intelligence) to create and save custom reports. Also they should know how to create and arrange Dashboard content, since this allows the development team to focus on the functionality. Finally, they should know how to configure the alerts and agents. Without this comfort zone, the project runs at risk of being abandoned and not realizing expected ROI.

To get successful in training users, it is possible to use the following approach:

1.  The BI tool training should be mandatory and a pre-requisite to using the system. There is just no way around it since the management should ensure that business users are be able to get the correct results from the system, since improper use might be probable.

2. Training should utilize shorter sessions and span longer as opposed to cramming everything during the same day. I have seen more success with sessions scheduled throughout the month, since it allowed users to fit the training into their schedule and practice.

3. Create self-learning exercises relevant to the users’ job, ideally showing how it can make their job easier on a daily basis. A good example I saw was when a trainer demonstrated how he had saved himself 30 minutes every day through avoiding Excel and generating 20 reports in a matter of minutes. After witnessing this, I’m a strong believer in “train the trainer approach,” when you train selected few users (mostly the ones who are helping to spearhead the project) and then watch them training the rest of the team. The main idea is to adjust the training so that it is relevant, interesting, and memorable.

Since it might not be possible to keep active training sessions on a regular basis after the go-live date, it would be nice to create computer-based BI training so that new employees could get on board easily.

The last recommendation is to educate users about basics of dimensional model. It does not have to be a very deep immersion into DWH concepts; however, it would be advantageous to at least explain difference between fact and dimensional tables, or how the canonical date/time works in the BI world, for example.

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