A few months ago we launched a training program enabling our users to become certified Duco experts. Here’s what we learned along the way.
By Ewen Wyness, Senior Training Executive
The quantity and complexity of business data is exploding at the moment. A report by IDC estimates there will be 50 zettabytes of data circulating around the world in 2020. By 2025, this figure is predicted to grow by 250% to 175 zettabytes. We are truly entering the decade of data.
However, the ways of dealing with that data – particularly in the back offices of financial institutions – have not moved on that much in 20 years. There’s a prevalence of inflexible on-premise technology that’s good at dealing with one type of data, but requires major data transformation projects for anything bespoke. There’s a lot more bespoke projects nowadays, and the issue is going to get worse.
At Duco we believe the only way to solve this problem is by empowering end users to handle, manipulate and transform data themselves. Without major projects. To do this you need three things:
- A flexible, self-service product
- An easy-to-use graphical interface
- A training program that turns novices into experts in double-quick time
Certification fits into the last category.
The value of certification
Certification is essentially a series of courses, each ending with a test, that a user can take. If the user passes, they become officially certified as an expert for that particular topic. Certification provides a number of benefits to users:
- Clear pathways to learn the system and upskill
- A quantifiable way to demonstrate competency in certain areas
- A badge of honour to show to current and future employers
It provides business benefits too:
- More engaged users, who are self-sufficient and less reliant on support
- Enhanced time to value and faster ROI
- Users create processes that align to industry best practices
- Users discover advanced parts of the system and use them to drive further value
As a result, more and more SaaS companies are providing certification as a part of a wider customer education program.
How certification differs to training
At Duco – as at many Software as a Service (SaaS) providers – customers typically receive free onsite training as part of the onboarding process. This covers a set agenda where users are taught the fundamentals of using the platform.
Thereafter, users operate self-sufficiently, using the intuitive features of the product to build reconciliations and data controls. They can do this on their own, rather than being reliant on internal expertise or further training from Duco.
While this provides an excellent base for users to get going and start providing tangible value to their business – it doesn’t tell the whole story. Apart from early-stage startups, most enterprise products have a range of additional features that it isn’t practical to go into during the initial training. It would take far too long, and the users would suffer from information overload.
Therefore, at Duco we provide additional pathways for users to learn more and acquire new skills:
- An online Help Centre, featuring ‘how to’ videos, a comprehensive user guide and much more that users can browse at their own speed
- A suite of virtual open-enrolment classes called Duco Academy that runs throughout each month with rotating topics
Alongside this, we wanted a quantifiable method to assess if users fully understand the product and can build reconciliations in an optimal way that delivers the greatest value for the business.
That’s why we introduced the Duco Certification program: structured courses that aim to provide a high level of proficiency in different areas of the platform.
Learning from the trailblazers
When designing our certification program, we decided to take inspiration from the best.
Like so much at Duco (product design, development, technology stack, customer success, marketing, etc) we looked outside the reconciliation and data integrity market to the true trailblazers: world class SaaS platforms such as Salesforce, Hubspot and Zendesk.
What they had in common was a real focus on user enablement and certification programs that allowed individuals to hone their skills to use the SaaS platform in an optimal way. There was a real acknowledgment that there are different kinds of customer, and different user roles within that customer’s organisation, all of whom are likely to use the product in different ways.
As such we’ve not laid out a strict syllabus for users to follow, instead building custom learning pathways for potential examinees to choose from.
How Duco Certification works
Each course is delivered as a set of eLearning units so that users can work at their own pace. For example: “Duco Certified Builder” is a foundation course that takes up to 20 hours to complete over two to three months.
It is assessed purely on a practical basis. To pass the course, users are given a set of data and they use what they have learnt to build specific reconciliations.
The “Certified System Administrator” course, however, concentrates on the skills needed for administering the Duco platform for larger teams of users. It takes 10 hours to complete, with certification dependent on passing a final exam.
We launched our certification program late last year and so far feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Users have reported that they have acquired new skills to build better, more complex or more flexible reconciliations – skills they may never have realised if they had simply completed the onboarding training.
Thanks to the practical nature of the courses, they were able to discover a range of new tools and techniques they could apply immediately, in accordance with industry best practice.
Among companies where users are Duco certified, we have noticed a considerable increase in the quality of the reconciliation builds. This includes elegant reconciliations that streamline processes, simplify complexity, and can be used to derive advanced business intelligence.
Certification programs can play an important role in customer education – particularly for SaaS providers. At Duco we now see the program as an essential part of learning best practice in reconciliation building and administration techniques.
It also gives users an in-depth understanding of the full suite of functionality that is available and provides a tangible token of the user’s product knowledge.
We are currently providing certification without charge for Duco customers. We wanted adoption to be as widespread as possible and for users to deliver the right product capabilities, in the right way, into their organisations. This will in turn maximise the value that customers get from their investment in the platform.
We have big plans for the program and will be rolling out several new courses in 2020, so watch this space! And for Duco customers who want to get started right now, simply visit our Help Centre where you can enroll for certification today.