The Importance of Training in Cloud Business Intelligence Solution Management

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In this article, we will explore the necessity of training in getting the most ROI on your Cloud Corporate Performance Management and Business Intelligence solutions.

On this blog, we have been discussing the service packages that can come with ownership and management of a cloud Corporate Performance Management (CPM) and/or Business Intelligence (BI) solution – and so far, we’ve explored the importance of support and consulting.  This article will explore the final component – why training?  Wasn’t consulting enough?  Is it an essential part of the experience of owning and mastering the management of your cloud BI or CPM tool?  This article will set out to answer these questions and more about the relevance of training to your daily work within a cloud BI or CPM solution.

I used to be a corporate trainer at a different company, mostly doing onboarding of new employees, but have developed a friendship with a current CPM product trainer because the trade interests me.  Tina has worked as a trainer for nearly 20 years, and she provided an insider’s perspective, which helped a lot because I was struggling to understand the difference between training and consulting.  Tina right away said that the difference between consulting and training has to do with the setup.  In consulting, you’re getting an extremely customized, one-on-one product training and configuration, based on your needs and the functionality offering of the cloud BI or CPM product.  Typical training, on the other hand, is for a bigger group and is a mostly uniform offering.  When I say “mostly uniform,” I mean that the trainer is consistent in the messaging, the exercises, and the exploration of the product, but can also tailor the learning experience for the group, based on skill level and interest areas.
In a training classroom, you also get the added benefit of practice and repetition, so you develop a muscle memory for when you get back to your office or cubicle.  Training covers a range of topics, from creating basic reports to more complex consolidations and multi-company budgeting.  The classroom is a social and dynamic space for you to participate in a conversation with not only your trainer, but also your fellow classmates.  Sometimes, you’ll be sitting next to a co-worker, but other times, you can gain insight by comparing tips and tricks with someone from a different company and probably, a different industry.  This can be an invaluable experience where you learn something new, peer to peer.  And I know Tina would add that while the goal is for her students to learn something from her, she is always learning something from the trainees.
Increasingly, cloud solution providers also offer online training or even self-paced training based on video libraries. Although it rarely provides the exact same value as face-to-face training, it can be lower cost and more convenient.
Where does training fit into the larger picture?  Think about your cloud BI or CPM tool as a parallel to that of an automobile, from factory to driveway.  Your cloud BI or CPM solution is designed and manufactured by the software provider, just like a vehicle is assembled in a factory.  You might first interact with consultants and even support team members, but training is an option that you can reach for to establish a baseline of training for all of your end users, or you might have an employee or two who would like to take an intermediate or advanced class once they’re more familiar with the product.
Consulting identifies your particular organizational objectives and connects the dots for the cloud BI or CPM product’s features and functionalities.  Consultants know the product and its features and functions much more in-depth than knowing how to flip on the windshield wipers, so they can help you in teaching you how to get your cloud solution connected to your data sources for the analytics you need.
Training is a great option for users to expand their product knowledge.  Think about never having learned how to connect your phone or tablet to the Bluetooth feature in your car.  Consulting might serve you great in terms of training, but might be more costly because of the one-on-one attention you receive by way of billable hours.  Training enables you to learn in a group setting – and can hopefully empower you to become the training resource for other users at your organization because of hands-on exercises and ad-hoc learning sessions, based on your particular goals within the cloud platform.
The support team is your pit crew as you take laps with your cloud CPM/BI tool. Support does deliver training, whether that be detailing particular moves within the product or fixing problems you encounter along the way.  In terms of our cloud BI/CPM vehicle, the pit crew is there when you need fuel, repairs, parts replaced, and so on, which is similar to how support helps in troubleshooting your issues with a tool.  A good support team is constantly adding to a knowledge base (KB), or a library of articles, visuals, videos, and/or simple step-by-step instructions, which allows for self-service support.  The support team is an important partner in maximizing your ROI for the tool.
However, none of these offerings usually come with your purchase, de facto.  Consulting can become somewhat pricey with billable hours, but seems necessary for initial product onboarding.  Training is an option when you can budget for it, but after detailing its importance, it is hard to imagine the kind of ROI your leadership team wants to achieve without proper training.  Support also seems essential for product maintenance and troubleshooting.  Perhaps the takeaway for this paragraph would be: budget for what you want and need from the onset.
When investing in cloud BI or CPM solutions, you have multiple aspects to consider when achieving product expertise.  Even though we’re all trying to save money where we can, don’t cut corners on structured training.  Solver, Inc. is happy to answer questions and generally review BI360’s web-powered, easy-to-use Excel and mobile BI tools, as well as a robust offering of professional services to accelerate company performance management.