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SAS goes beyond traditional technical training with intensive course for SAS consultants

SAS developed a boot camp style training course as a way of quickly 'skilling up' SAS partners' employees in terms of their technical awareness and understanding, as well as teamwork, communication, problem solving and presentation skills.

Scoping the Challenge
In today's competitive business environment, more and more service-focused organisations see the value of investing in structured training programmes to enable their consultants to come 'up to speed' on their solutions and be productive in a shorter period of time. SAS' partners typically require a means of addressing any SAS® skills shortfall in their graduate trainees by providing high levels of technical instruction. They are typically looking for an approach that places the skills acquired into a real-life business context, and that develops essential competencies around team working that ultimately help generate a pipeline of talented consultants.

The concept was to go beyond traditional technical training to offer an approach that focuses on delivering technical skills and knowledge, but also on training delegates in the essential skills they need to become consultants.

Delivering the Solution
The programme today starts with a brief introduction to SAS®, including a practical hands-on interactive demonstration of SAS® Enterprise Guide®, a powerful tool that empowers users to analyse data and publish results. The major benefit of the tool, in this context, is that it is intuitive and easy to use, and therefore helps get trainee consultants 'up and running' quickly. The course then moves on to more complex programming skills, a step change that is easier to achieve with the benefit of the initial SAS Enterprise Guide training.

After five days, the programme starts to incorporate additional skills-based activities. Typically, these include time management training – identifying how consultants can best prioritise their work. There are also discussions around team theory and practical tests to build communications skills.

Each course attendee is then given a mock case study to work on, which involves acting out the role of a member of a fictional MIS team and having to present relevant information back to executives. SAS films the presentations and gives course attendees a DVD to help with future development. The students then carry out a practice exam to identify areas to focus on in the lead up to the certification exam. They are allowed some time for self-study before taking the exam itself. After this, SAS holds one-to-one feedback sessions to identify what has gone well, areas to work on and future plans.

Throughout the programme, there is a focus on appropriate business behaviour. Trainee consultants, often working in their first job, are required to work to tight deadlines, often through lunchbreaks or late into the evening to get the job done; to dress smartly for business meetings; and be punctual at all times.

Reaping the Rewards
Through the boot camp training programme, SAS is able to give trainees real world experience in a relatively short time in a controlled environment. Would-be consultants also have the opportunity to leave the programme with a globally recognised certification from SAS, giving consultants confidence to add value to their chosen organisation early in their career.

"Ultimately what differentiates the SAS consultants' boot camp from most training programmes is that our approach applies a unique training methodology where we offer a combined focus on knowledge, skills and behaviours to gain fast and effective results." says Myles Hannon, Head of Education, SAS UK.

Also by attending the SAS boot camp, delegates qualify for other benefits. By doing so, they qualify to attend three other courses at any time they want throughout the next nine-month period in order to develop the skills to sit an advanced certification exam. So within the basic price, they have access to all the courses and material they need to achieve both SAS certification levels.

According to Elaine Clayton, Education Business Development Manager, SAS, "It's a timely, efficient programme and it delivers results. If people attend courses and then are left to do the exams in their own time, it typically never happens. The programme drives the process through. Participating companies benefit from having their consultants certified, but also through the knowledge that they have people that they can trust to deliver and help them achieve a fast return on their investment."

Shelley Allen, Graduate Programme Manager at Sopra Group, a leader in the European consulting and IT services market and one of the leading SAS partners, is also clear about the benefits. "From our perspective," she says, "one of the secrets of the success of the boot camp approach is that SAS is prepared to work closely with us to make it work and is happy to invest time and effort into making the programme work better. SAS has always been happy to sit down with us after each boot camp and talk through what worked well and what didn't work, and taking the feedback on board, tweak the programme to more closely meet our needs."

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SAS Consultant Training

Business Issue:
Service-focused organisations increasingly are investing in structured training programmes to enable their consultants to get 'up to speed' and be productive as quickly as possible. They are looking beyond traditional classroom-based training, to one that incorporates additional soft skills to build a strong pipeline of talented consultants.
Solution:
The programme focuses on quickly 'skilling up' a large number of employees, not only in terms of their technical awareness and understanding, but also in general business areas like teamwork, communication, problem solving and presentation skills.
Benefits:
SAS is able to give trainees realworld experience in a relatively short time in a controlled environment. Would-be consultants also have the opportunity to leave the programme with a globally recognised SAS certification.

Ultimately what differentiates the SAS boot camp from most training programmes for SAS consultants is that our approach applies a unique training methodology where we offer a combined focus on knowledge, skills and behaviours to gain fast and effective results.

Myles Hannon

Head of Education, SAS UK

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