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Three common business intelligence training mistakes to avoid

Expert Brian Jordan discusses three common mistakes that BI teams make when training business users and offers advice on how to avoid them.

Can you detail some common mistakes that business intelligence (BI) teams make in designing and implementing BI training programs for their business users?

The mistake I see most often in BI training programs is sending users to the standard classroom training given by the vendor. Every BI environment I've seen is different in some fashion. And in most cases, the BI content used for training (reports, dashboards, etc.) is stale and generic and not relevant to what the users will be doing on a daily basis. So when they go to use the tools in their own environments, they're often confused and find it hard to relate what they've seen to their daily use cases.

The second most common issue is that the functional training isn't customized enough for the users, which relates back to content as well. Training would be far more effective if the exercises were geared toward how the users will be using the BI tools and data on a daily basis. In addition to conducting the training in the users' specific environments with the data they'll be using, BI leaders should go one step further and create exercises that will help users do their jobs more efficiently and make better decisions. Most of the training delivered in classrooms -- and even in custom training settings -- doesn't account for what the users truly need to be proficient with the new tools.

The last mistake is having one-time-only classes in which users are trained during the course of a single session, and that's it. The best user adoption cases for BI software include training that's designed with a continuing education approach in mind. Periodic classes with a focus on continuous improvement are extremely beneficial, and organizations that frequently refine and extend their business intelligence training programs are the most successful. The best way to do this is to make the content you've developed readily available, by offering tips-and-tricks documents, posting how-to videos on YouTube and providing other easy-to-access resources. Users like to be able to refer back to what they've learned as they move forward on BI applications.

This was first published in April 2014

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