Support for older versions of the SAP BusinessObjects Business Intelligence suite will run out at the end of 2015, meaning that a large number of organizations are upgrading to the latest SAP BusinessObjects BI 4.2.
The BI4 platform contains a lot of changes and improvements when compared to earlier versions like XI R2 and XI 3.0/3.1. To insure continued user adoption of your BI assets, your organization should plan carefully to make sure users are trained to be successful on the upgraded version. I’ll discuss how to profile your users and come up with distinct training plans for each type.
What’s Changing and What Will Stay the Same
Web Intelligence has been the de facto self-service query and analysis tool in the SAP BusinessObjects product suite. But that’s likely to change. SAP is now positioning the new Lumira data discovery tool for self-service and classifying Web Intelligence and Crystal Reports as a full service reporting tool.
Messaging aside, organizations will continue to rely on Web Intelligence as a critical part of their business intelligence strategy due to its ease of use and Swiss Army Knife-flexibility. Users with limited IT skills can create powerful reports and data visualizations that can be shared online or distributed — and even personalized — for email, mobile phones, tablets or corporate information portals such as Microsoft SharePoint using either a Web browser or desktop client.
Web Intelligence is intended for business users that are comfortable using Microsoft Office applications — not technologists. But while business users might not require specialized knowledge of SQL or other information technology skills, it would be a mistake to say that they do not require any training at all.
Web Intelligence 4.2 is a substantial departure from the previous XI 3.1 version. While many features will be familiar to experienced users, Web Intelligence 4.2 offers improved workflows that make certain features much easier to use, introduces a radical toolbar redesign and has some renamed feature terminology that can perplex even the most seasoned power users. Even the reporting portal has been rebranded and redesigned. Casual users familiar with the old InfoView portal will need some light training to be proficient in the new BI Launchpad.
Creating a Training Plan
Begin by profiling your user community for their experience and training. Nearly all of your current staff will fit into one of the four profiles described in these five scenarios:
- Users that need to access information from the BI system that don’t need to understand report design. We’ll refer to these folks as report viewers, not designers.
- Users who created basic reports in prior versions who have never used Web Intelligence 4.0/4.1. We’ll refer to these folks as basic report designers.
- Experienced users of prior versions who have never used Web Intelligence 4.0/4.1. We’ll refer to these folks as advanced report designers.
- Users that have no prior experience creating reports with Web Intelligence. Depending on each user’s role in the organization, you may classify people in this group as either basic or advanced report designers.
- Users who spend a lot of time analyzing data. We’ll refer to these folks as power users. Power users will benefit by having Lumira for data wrangling and data visualization. These users may also benefit from a Microsoft Excel plug-in like Live Office or Analysis, depending on the source of data being analyzed.
Using a spreadsheet, organize both new and experienced users into the four profiles of report viewer, basic report designer, advanced report designer and power user, depending on their role. Then create a training agenda for each profile.
Report Viewers: SAP does not offer formal training for users requiring only basic access. Plan on creating a 30- to 60-minute course that teaches these users how to log into the BI Launchpad and find the information they need.
Basic Report Designers: Expect to spend one to two days covering the most common of the features of Web Intelligence.
Advanced Report Designers: Expect to spend an additional half or full day covering topics like working with combining multiple data sources, including Excel based data sources. These users may be experienced with creating formulas in Excel and will want to understand the types of built-in functions available in Web Intelligence reports.
Power Users: You’ll want to make these users proficient in Web Intelligence first, reusing the training you’ve developed for basic and advanced report designers. But this set of users will require additional training time to master tools like Lumira, LiveOffice and both flavors of analysis (web and Microsoft Office).
Review the final attendee list with various line of business managers and provide a way for users to request a higher level of training with their managers, if they have interest. Note that a certification exam is available to become a SAP Certified Application Associate for Web Intelligence, which may be desirable for the IT staff that supports Web Intelligence users.
Don’t Forget Universe Training
You’ll want to deliver specific training on how to use universes that connect your organization’s data sources. Most prepackaged training options will use sample data that may not be relevant to your users. If using prepackaged training, plan on augmenting that instruction with a one- or two-hour course using live data. Provide documented exercises that users can continue to reference after the training.