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We recently facilitated our annual Training Week (TW) event at ACS. As with all of our TW sessions, many ACS people spent a lot of time preparing course materials, setting up rooms and equipment, and coordinating staff to make this a successful event. You might be interested to know that more than 150 hours went into preparing for the System Administration and SQL for Systems Analysts courses; more than 120 pages of course material were newly developed for just the system administration course alone. Numerous engineers and systems analysts also collaborated to develop the BI (Business Intelligence) presentation where we presented an array of reports and data warehousing examples. Given the large turnout and the class evaluation responses, many seem to agree that this was one of our best training events ever.

There was a good mix of experience represented among the group of TW participants. Some attendees had many years of experience using Advantage, while others had hardly touched it and TW was their first visit to ACS. Of course, the veteran attendees weren't easy on the neophytes during the whirly ball tournaments. No official reports of injuries, but I understand that Ken Nemerovski is now seeing a chiropractor.

The evaluations contained many positive reviews on the TW courses. A strong component we use to determine what TW courses are offered each year is to analyze what our clients are doing -- or not doing. In the case of the BI Forum, we've gauged a strong interest among our users in analyzing and delivering key metrics and important business data to the organization's decision-makers. While Excel and Crystal Reports can often provide the BI necessary for an organization to make important decisions about the business, we've been seeing our customers' requirements continue to evolve where more comprehensive and BI solutions are necessary to rapidly identify potential opportunities and determine how to best capitalize on them. This is where we think our Advantage BI module will help you succeed; the TW event was the opportune time to review our BI framework and seek your input on the types of BI tools that will soon be available to you. While we had an excellent turnout among our clients, we hope to see a lot more during the Augment meetings in January where we'll be providing another BI review along with more detailed information on the module and planned release window.

The system administration and SQL courses were developed in response to recent system audits at some of our client organizations. In each of these audits, we uncovered major items. Although the operations management personnel often felt certain that their operations were running smoothly, our detailed systems audit uncovered numerous areas of concern, some quite serious. We often see that our clients are not performing all the required administration tasks in an optimal way, due to things like changes in personnel, or not fully understanding enhancements to the application.

In addition to providing a comprehensive approach to administering Advantage, the system administration class addressed many of the issues uncovered during these audits at various client sites. The class covered all the major aspects of Advantage including security, maintenance, reporting, user and process management, and systems administration. If you didn't attend the class, I encourage you to talk with your ACS representative about scheduling either a comprehensive systems audit or a session of the Advantage administration class, or both. The audit can be done in 2 to 5 days, depending on the level of sophistication of your usage of Advantage.

Advantage is a sophisticated tool, with so many features, options and choices that there are an infinite number of ways to configure it. To optimize your knowledge of Advantage and to maximize its value to your company, we highly recommend ongoing and advanced training, as well as periodic systems audits. This investment is well worth the cost, as it will ensure you have knowledgeable people operating a smooth running system that is being used to the fullest.



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