University of Osnabrueck uses Quantrix to educate future decision makers

Background

Based in Germany, the University of Osnabrueck is a mid-sized university with approximately 12,000 students across ten schools.

The Business Administration and Economics School at the University, with 1,700 students, features four Bachelor’s and Master’s programs in both Business Administration and Economics, and Information Systems. All programs include courses about model-based decision support, which are attended by up to 100 students every year.

Challenge

Inside the decision support curriculum, the University of Osnabrueck needed to find a way to teach powerful and efficient modeling capabilities to students, which more accurately reflected the world students would work in post-graduation.

“The world is multi-dimensional” says Prof. Dr.-Ing. Bodo Rieger, who holds the chair for Management Support Systems at the Information Systems Institute of the Business Administration and Economics School at the University of Osnabrueck. “Unfortunately, many of the spreadsheet models that are used in practice are not sophisticated enough to model real-world scenarios in an efficient and reliable way.”

Typically, the main modeling experience for students just comes from Excel or traditional spreadsheets.

“It is very difficult to create an Excel model without errors in real-world scenarios” says Rieger. “When educating the next generation of decision makers – it’s important they know what tools are available to them when they graduate and work in industry.

“Currently, many industry professionals do not know about the existence or benefit of tools of this type.”

Solution

To ensure his students are familiar with producing models which can more accurately reflect real-world scenarios, Rieger has been teaching his students the benefits of multi-dimensional modeling tools since the 1990s. He first contacted Quantrix in 2009 following a tip off from a colleague – and has been using Quantrix at the University ever since.

Deciding to use Quantrix was an easy decision for Rieger. “I knew exactly what I was looking for, and I immediately recognized Quantrix had those features.

“I first looked on the Quantrix website on April 20, 2009. That day, I downloaded a trial copy, explored the modeler product, and on the same day wrote a mail asking for the software to use on our University courses.”

Results

The rollout of Quantrix was quick and simple for the University. “The rollout was perfect!” says Rieger. “The support from the Quantrix team was good, but really we did not need a lot of additional support, because everything worked perfectly. It was a direct and uncomplicated rollout process, without a lot of forms or signatures. With other companies, this can be much more complicated to do.”

With the software installed on department computers, Rieger’s students have access to Quantrix whenever they like at the University – giving students the flexibility to experiment further with the software, and also use Quantrix for other projects or thesis work.

As part of the Information Systems course at Osnabrueck, students are also regularly provided with exercises showing them the power and benefits of Quantrix.

“We have a number of lectures describing the concepts and advantages of Quantrix” explains Rieger. “Then, groups of students are given case studies – usually a description of a real-world company, how its decision-makers operate in the (structural) context of multiple products, customer groups and regional diversity – and then have to produce a Quantrix model and presentation.

“Because students are initially used to more basic tools, on our course, we ensure that students change their thinking about multi-dimensional modeling tools – ensuring they understand the models and the advantages.”

And, having taught multi-dimensional modeling to students for over 20 years, Rieger intends to keep demonstrating the benefits to his students at Osnabrueck. “It is very difficult to design a multi-dimensional model in Excel without logic errors. Adding new dimensional elements – such as a new region, product or consolidation level – all cause problems for users. These complex scenarios are very easy to realize if you use multi-dimensional models like in Quantrix.

“Our students love the capability to manage complexity in an easy way” says Rieger. “I am convinced that it’s important for the education of future decision makers to know that tools like this exist.”