April 2009 - Siebel 8.0 vs Siebel 8.1 Training

Spring is upon us and last week I enjoyed taking my class on a walk through Amsterdam on our way out to dinner (Yes, we are now teaching the Siebel Technical courses in Amsterdam again). The city was packed and Dam Square was alive with Pre-Queen's day construction activities. I smiled as my students looked at the latest ride which was undergoing testing, knowing my days of astronaut training have passed. Testing my physical limitations under high G-force has now been replaced by laughing and taking pictures of the victims staggering off the rides.

With the new season comes the introduction of the new Oracle Siebel CRM 8.1 Technical courses. The technical differences between the 8.0 and 8.1 releases appear to be minimal with many of the advancements associated to functional aspects of the product. My intention this month is to discuss the new direction in courses, and provide an opinion or two.

The changes to the curriculum revolve around the Core Siebel courses that lead to certification. I believe that those of us holding Siebel Consulting Certifications benefit through higher utilization than non-certified resources. I also believe that the true benefit of certification is for the customer receiving a higher quality of work with an appreciation for building sturdy solutions that can last the test of time.
Using the Certification Web-site as a starting point (Follow the Certification link on the www.oracle.com home page), navigating to the Siebel CRM section shows a large choice of paths leading to the Siebel 8 Certification. At this time both the 8.0 and 8.1 courses lead to the same Siebel 8 Consultant Certified Expert certification.

If the options available are a bit confusing, it may be due to the fact that the 8.0 and 8.1 courses represent two different training philosophies. The 8.0 curriculum represents a direction the courses have taken for almost a decade. The Role Based objectives of the course is to prepare a well rounded resource capable of completing development tasks with an understanding of the dependencies and considerations needed to successfully complete the project stage. The 8.0 curriculum includes a week long Implementation Case Study Week designed to significantly improve the students learning curve and productivity in the field.

The 8.1 Curriculum is not as Job Role based as the 8.0 and seeks to go into the depth missing from the Siebel 8.0 Essentials training. The 8.1 Curriculum replaces the Case Study component of the course with an additional week of traditional training combined with Self-Study Media Based On-Line courses. While the 8.0 program is meant to be completed in three consecutive weeks, the 8.1 program is designed as self study combined with three weeks of Instructor Led Training meant to be taken over a longer period of time.

The new 8.1 courses are exciting in that they present topics like the Siebel Management Server and Siebel Application Response Measurement system in more detail. A proper treatment of how User Authentication technologies are implemented in production systems is part of the new Installation course. The diminished coverage of installation in the Siebel 8.0 Essentials Course and Day One focus of installation in the Case Study course receives two days of treatment in the 8.1 program.

In the new Siebel 8.1 Tools course students have more time to better understand the core of the Siebel Architecture and how to use Declarative Configuration (Modifying object definitions to define application functionality) to solve user design requirements not available in the Out Of The Box product. The new Siebel 8.1 Business Automation course still keeps students busy with the inclusion of SmartScript and Inbox configuration in addition to the traditional topics of Workflow and Assignment Manager.

What I like best about the new 8.1 curriculum is that it satisfies a gripe I have had over the last 10 years which is, where are the advanced classes. The Siebel architecture is so large that many topics never got into the curriculum as there was only so much you could pack into a 10 day training and 5 day case study. With 8.1 there will be other exciting courses covering EIM in the detail it requires, advanced Tools classes covering Chart and Tree Applets will also soon be available.

Oracle University is recommending that new students follow the 8.1 curriculum as a path towards certification. If you choose to follow this recommendation please pay attention to the Pre-Requisite Self Study courses and in my opinion treat the Recommended Pre-Requisites as critical courses for the student to follow. The Self-Study materials cover topics that are part of the 8.0 Instructor Led Courses and are critical for the student to truly understand how Siebel CRM works. In my opinion, they should be taught by an Instructor which is why I still favor the 8.0 program.

As a Project Manager looking to get resources trained, certified, and productive, the 8.0 program represents the lowest cost in time with the maximum exposure to what customization is possible at the lowest cost with highest reliability. The 8.0- program is better suited to the typical student coming into my classroom who is entering into the IT profession from the Business Sector. Many of these students do not have the technical foundation in Programming, Operating Systems, and Database Technology, and they struggle with technical topics in the lighter 8.0 program.

I believe that the 8.1 program is perfectly suited to the more technical project resources working with the Siebel Core team. Installation and Systems Administration is all many administrators need to know and they do not enjoy sitting through the configuration topics stressed in the 8.0 curriculum.

I will not hide the fact that I am disappointed that the Case Study is missing from the 8.1 program and believe it is still the one week of training that students appreciate the most, learn the most, and enjoy the most. It is my opinion that the Case Study is needed to bring all the numerous learning objectives of training to the point where students understand the materials. I believe that mixing the 8.0 Core Consulting Course and the more advanced 8.1 topics as well as the new 8.1 Loyalty Application focused course is the best long term investment with a shorter startup.

I look forward to seeing you in the classroom.

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