The Cost of Not Knowing What You Don't Know...
If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard someone say “I wish I’d known that before…” during a training course, I could probably be relaxing now either somewhere warm and sunny, or crisp and snowy, instead of sitting here writing this.
It may be a cliché, but it’s so true – the amount of time that people spend trying to find complicated work-arounds for problems that have much simpler solutions can be staggering to hear about. Not many people calculate the cost of this time, but if they did, in many cases they would find that the cost of a couple of days training would pale into insignificance by comparison. Sometimes, of course, there is no simple solution to what they’re trying to do – but even so, there’s a time-cost involved in finding that out when you don’t know what you don’t know.
Pete, a customer who attended a recent Business Objects course with me, works for a Housing Association. He uses Business Objects to produce reports for his management team to provide them with up-to-the-minute information about how many vacant properties they have; repairs; rent arrears; and that sort of thing, about the many thousands of tenants on their books.
One particular report has to be updated and a copy sent to his team on the first Monday of each month. For the last two years, he has run the report from Business Objects, exported the resulting data to Excel, and then added various calculations and formulae before emailing the final Excel spreadsheet to everyone. It has to be in Excel because not everyone has Business Objects. He reckons this takes about an hour and a half every month.
After I showed him how Business Objects could do everything (and more) that he currently does in Excel, and then showed him how to schedule the report in Business Objects, he doesn’t have to do anything: Business Objects runs the report for him at eight o’clock in the morning on the first Monday of each month, and emails a copy as an Excel file to everyone in the team, even when Pete is on holiday or off sick.
I don’t know what Pete’s hourly rate of pay is, but even if he was on the minimum wage of £7.20 per hour, I reckon that the cost of his one day training course was about 30% of the cost of the time he’s spent on this task over the last couple of years. And he learnt a heap of other stuff that will save him more time and make him more productive in the years to come as well. (Pete’s not his real name by the way, but all the rest is true.)
And sometimes, just a little re-assurance that you’re working along the right lines can go a long way towards boosting your confidence and making you more productive. Budgets are tight for everyone these days, but set the cost of training against the time-saving achieved by being more productive and you might be surprised.
Business Objects software is used by all kinds of organisations who need to manage and report on large volumes of data. It’s widely used in police forces, NHS trusts, and government departments, for example, as well as commercial businesses such as pharmaceutical companies, financial institutions and catering contractors.
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