Thursday, December 24, 2015

Priority training

Although I seem to be one of the least connected people in Israel, every now and then I do strike lucky with 'a friend of a friend'. Such a connection led me the other day to an interesting conversation with the manager (and owner) of a small training centre, which most not coincidentally has the license to train people for Priority. What is coincidental is that this centre is about 200 metres from what I once described as 'the other company's showroom, which is in the city of Petach Tikva'. So I knew exactly how to get there.

The conversation ranged over several topics, although I'm going to comment about only those which pertain to my doctorate. First of all, the owner was only too pleased to participate in the research, although he warned me that they have only about ten users, and most of them don't use Excel at all. I had to explain that it's fine that there are Priority users which don't use Excel - I need them as a control group in order to see the differences between them and those that do use Excel. 

But it had occurred to me that the real value to be extracted from this connection was not the centre itself, but rather the access that it provided to its students. When I put this to the owner, at first he demurred. He felt that allowing me to talk for upto half an hour to his classes would be a waste of his students' time. What would be better would be for me to give an entire lesson (I assume around two and a half hours) about Priority and then at the end talk about my research and attempt to sign up the students.

I explained about one of the questions about training in the questionnaire: did the training that you received explain techniques about how to use the program, or did it explain how to achieve goals by means of the program? Almost certainly, most people receive the first kind of training (pressing F6 does this, F11 does that), whereas what most people need is the second kind (which explains for example what a delivery note is, why it is used, and how to manage them). The first kind of training is suited for groups whereas the second kind is suitable for individuals - and thus much harder. Of course, a training centre gives the first kind of training.

One of my personal advantages (and I have been told to be less modest about this) is that I can give both types of training. How can I use this advantage and inveigle myself into the training centre, at least for one session (I'm not looking for a full time job!)? The solution was to write an article - which will be the basis for a full lecture - which displays how to write a report in a business context. The report writer receives a request - "write a report which shows all the payments made to suppliers within a given time period" - but because of assumptions both on her part and also by the person making the request, several iterations are required until the correct report is produced. 

Of course, during each iteration, I show what the business need is and how to implement it in Priority. In doing so, I also introduce a few pearls which can't be found solely by reading the documentation and which probably aren't taught. I have no idea how much material utilised in the final version of the report is taught - I hope that not too much is new, otherwise I will have to explain the technical side more than the business side, which is not my intention.

I sent the article to the owner, who presumably will pass it on to the person who runs the Priority training (they run several courses about various computer subjects). I haven't received a response yet, but then not everybody works at my pace - and they may have more important things to do with their time.

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