Lynton Howes

Maintaining your SAP Investment

This article is featured in Inside SAP magazine's Summer 2012 edition

“If you think training is a waste of money, calculate the cost of not training”

– Anon.

Inside SAP Summer edition - click to view

This article is featured in Inside SAP magazine’s Summer 2012 edition – click to view the magazine

You’ve just started with a new employer and have had the safety induction, been introduced to the key people and have been shown your work station.  You’re excited, nervous and wondering what to expect next.  The company runs SAP, so applying your initiative, you search through the intranet for support content, but you are unable to find any online SAP training materials, guides or any useful information.  You have been assigned a buddy, Joe, who gives you some old printed materials, which he advises are about 40% out of date.  Your boss asks you to get going in SAP.  As you have no access yet, Joe lends you his user ID…and he lets you watch him, as part of the two-day handover.  Joe’s very disenchanted with the company, seems to be disorganised and does not seem to follow the correct processes.  You’re very nervous to transact in the live system, as you know that you will be held responsible for any mistakes, once Joe is gone.  The only form of support is an online Helpdesk service, but requests for help take days to be answered and only provide a transactional answer – without explaining the process.

After a week, your level of confidence hasn’t improved. It seems like everyone you meet has their own system “workaround”.  People openly grumble about SAP, and the quality of data is poor and getting worse by the day.  Excel is being used to produce management reports. You are surprised that even the most basic tasks in SAP seem like an enormous challenge for people, and yet, you’ve seen the system work so well elsewhere. What makes the situation even most astonishing is that the implementation project concluded only a year ago, and was reported to have cost around $50m. You wonder whether this company is really for you…

Owning intellectual property is like owning land. You need to keep investing in it again and again to get payoff.” -  Esther Dyson

This all-too-familiar scenario arises easily, and it starts with the project handover.  Training is the item most often identified as the single greatest determinant of success, during post-implementation project reviews [i], yet it’s still the item which is most likely to have funds de-allocated during an implementation.  If training and change management is not done effectively for Go Live, the project obviously suffers.  However, it is the Business As Usual (BAU) training environment that is the key to realising the return on the investment over the long term.

Providing quality, ongoing training does not have to be expensive. By applying the latest learner-centric approaches, it costs less than ever before.  The ubiquity of screens (PCs, laptops, tablets and phones) in today’s workplace means that users are more comfortable with training content and support materials being accessed online and printed only when required, or never.  Content is thus more easily updated as the system is enhanced, compared to the “printed manual” approach of ten years ago.  The latest tools for recording eLearning simulations, such as SAP Workforce Performance Builder, are all about rapid development of content, requiring less expertise for developers, and also permit field-level, context-sensitive help and process guidance.  This means that process and business rule help is pushed to the user directly when they are populating fields in SAP, without having to invoke help menus.

Maintain your learning ecosystem to get the most out of your IT investment

Maintain your learning ecosystem to get the most out of your IT investment

The result is better training support for learners, integrated in the system, demonstrating the “why” and the “how”.  A linked LMS or training portal (such as KnowHow) further enhances the overall learning experience, delivering relevant courses directly to users, and participation and completion can be easily monitored. And by capitalising on the use of social media, wikis and forums, users can generate and update shared materials; such as a user forum where upcoming changes can be announced, or questions asked.  This enables self-help and cultivates engagement, while ensuring that the management team has visibility of process adherence.  It’s cheaply available, now.  And rather than incurring the overhead and inefficiency of permanent training staff, expert trainers can be called in for on-demand sessions only as required, for example, when there are multiple new starters or a process has changed.

The result of all this is a training ecosystem which is targeted, easily accessible and up-to-date; as a result, users will use it and be effective in the system.  Calls to the helpdesk go down, user productivity goes up, data quality is retained, and you have a platform for future enhancements.  In short, the very benefits the project was intended to deliver.

The right training keeps a business running smoothly

Clearly, the maintenance of BAU training content and business processes is critical to achieving the return on your SAP project spend.

At Adapt2 Consulting, we believe that attending to the upkeep, using the latest approaches, will deliver years of productivity gains from your systems and people, at a fraction of the cost of inaction.  Need help?  Ask us how.

[i] Mark J. Sweeney, Jr., Education Account Manager, SAP Global Accounts (quote used with permission)

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