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COVID-19: Lifting Restrictions

Renfro Partners with Surry Community to Train Employees and Save Thousands

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Renfro Brands saved thousands of dollars by partnering with Surry Community College to train employees on how to use Microsoft’s Power BI to generate reports internally instead of outsourcing.

Sachin Vaidya, who handles business improvement, product development and innovation for Renfro, explained that his company was transitioning to a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system, and both new and old ERP systems had to run parallel for a trial period. Reporting from both systems had to reconcile.

Twenty-nine Renfro Brands employees took a Microsoft Power BI data analytic software class taught by Susan Ratcliff, Director of Occupational Programs at Surry Community College, that allowed the employees to generate Renfro’s reports internally. Employees had also taken a Microsoft Excel class through SCC.

“Everyone is focused on data driven decisions and Power BI is an affordable software that allows employees, who are not data scientists, to analyze data from multiple sources, create meaningful visualizations and share those visualizations through online dashboards,” Ratcliff said.

Vaidya originally thought Renfro Brands would have to outsource the majority of the reporting to a data management company, but he was excited to say most of the outsourcing was unnecessary.

“This saved thousands of dollars for Renfro Brands and also made the transition to the new ERP system seamless. Susan Ratcliff customized the Power BI class specifically for our business. She is an excellent instructor,” Vaidya said. “We have been so happy with the results from the initial training that we added a second Power BI class.”

Employees in the Power BI classes utilized their own company’s data, which made the class skills incredibly practically for them. The class was taught through Microsoft Teams in a synchronous online format.

“I met with the students via Microsoft Teams at a regularly scheduled time for lecture, hands-on practice, and question and answer sessions. Each class was recorded and posted for anyone who missed the class and for future reference. I think practice is the key for learning any new skill, so I always build in time to allow students to practice skills we covered that day,” Ratcliff said. “It was a pleasure to work with Renfro Brands, and I appreciate the trust they have put in Surry Community College for their corporate training.”

If you would like to discuss training options for your employees, contact Sam Brim, SCC Director of Business and Industry Services, at (336) 386-3684 or brims@surry.edu.

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