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In order for a SAP client company to get maximum benefit from SAP, it is necessary to develop a program that will continuously improve overall understanding of how applications support the business processes that determine business performance.  This applies to all levels of a company’s workforce from senior executives to knowledge workers.  This program, to be effective, needs to include all levels of training and education as defined in this document.  It is more typical today that training is done at the time of implementation and then is only repeated as necessary.  When constructing a comprehensive education program all of the following components should be included.

  1. Worker training – this is an important component of the implementation program and may be done using tools used to capture process information in a presentation format.  It may also be done using proprietary tools of either the client company or of the Systems Integrator.  Training is typically presented, initially, by “Super Users” or trainers who have been part of the client project team.  It is important to do on-going, new worker or remedial training.  This can be done by training departments or Power Users within the functional departments as long as the programs are consistent and maintained.  It is also important to note that the process definition documents (BPPs or similar) have to be maintained “as is” as the system evolves over time in order to keep the training programs relevant.
  2. Functional Super-User training – this starts with the implementation team attending an overview training course that covers integration aspects of the touch points between functions.  This allows project teams to understand how each functional area affects others and facilitates the design of cross-functional business processes by the project team.  Teams should also consider TERP 10 for this role, which is longer but more thorough and better prepares the design teams.  The key point here is that it is of critical importance to provide project teams with the most knowledge of cross-functional integration at the start of the project.  Regardless of how this is completed, the next step is to have team members attend appropriate functional training.  This can either be done at the SAP Academy, where the whole range of functions will be covered for a number of clients, or on-site if the project has sufficient students to warrant the costs.  It can also be taught in a customized fashion by organizations who can tailor similar material to the specific functions used by the client company.  These Super-Users become the expert resources for their home departments or functions, both during design and after go-live.  It is also necessary for an organization to have a process of training more department users to this level, both to increase the depth of organizational understanding and to maintain competency as staff turns over
  3. Workforce Education – the most ignored need of the SAP organization, and one that determines to a great degree how successful the new systems become over time, is that of continuing education in how to more effectively use SAP to provide business benefits.  One of the powerful aspects of SAP is that it can continue to evolve to provide progressively more business benefits as the organization itself finds ways to become more effective and more efficient.  All organizations need to provide means for continuous growth and learning in order to remain relevant in a changing world, and continued learning around SAP and business processes is a critical part of satisfying this need.  Whether TERP 10 is used by some parts of the implementation team or not, the use of this certification program by SAP, or Universities who also provide the Academy, is an important part of this process.  TERP 10 provides an in depth view of all of the native business processes in SAP in order to provide knowledge of how each of the functional areas can be configured to support each other.  (As an aside, this same certification in addition to the functional certification held by most good consultants, provides a totally different business perspective to those consultants and enhances their value to the client, which can also be part of this discussion).  TERP 10 is a certification program that is unique in the SAP catalogue as, even though it is needed by consultants, it is extremely relevant to the user community.  Regardless of gaining the certification, the knowledge gained in the material allows individuals and departments to understand the overall application and better develop approaches to improving business operations. 
  4. In an extension of the TERP 10 program, Central Michigan University has incorporated the Academy and certification into a SAP Concentration that is taught as part of the MBA program.  In addition, the SAP Concentration courses have been broken out into a SAP Graduate Certificate Program, which can be taken independently of the MBA program and which can then be applied to the MBA program at a future date if needed.  This program takes a deeper view into all aspects of how SAP can be used to create business benefits, through more knowledge of configuration, the role of reporting and analytics in SAP, and the role of auditing to ensure compliance with government regulations (SOX, IFRS, GAAP, etc.).  These programs are taught on-line and provide the most comprehensive view of the relationship between SAP and business improvements.  The program is also designed to provide a comprehensive knowledge of SAP from a business perspective to students who may have had no or minimal exposure to SAP previously.

It is of critical importance that client organizations develop programs to deal with all of these needs.  The resulting program should be designed to address all of the organizational needs from worker training/retraining, through functional expertise within the departments, and to include programs to encourage continuous knowledge development throughout the business from senior department executives to the lower levels of management, who ultimately become the true business process owners, and upon whom the performance of the business depends.

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