Jocelyn Hayes, from an external SAP training company and previously a Director of the ASUG (America’s SAP User Group) Board of Directors, advocates that investing in training is critical to a successful SAP implementation project.
John : How did you get into the SAP world?
Jocelyn : I started in the SAP industry in 1997. I was a manufacturing engineer at IBM and was placed on an SAP project. On the first day on the job, they sent me to SAP Warehouse Management training and that’s where I got my start in the SAP world. This was part of their internal implementation to use SAP within manufacturing. I decided I liked the implementation role so much that I pursued a career in SAP Consulting with KPMG (now Bearing Point) and later as an independent consultant and performed SAP implementations for many years.
John : What is your current role?
Jocelyn : I joined Klee Associates (DBA ERPtips) (no relation to John Kleeman) as the Director of Training and Consulting in 2006. I really enjoy focusing on one of my passion areas – SAP training. Over the past 5 years, I have built up a thriving training practice and worked with many great consultants to develop an exceptional training program. We provide public training courses, onsite training courses, and produce an SAP journal.
John : What do you do with ASUG (America’s SAP User Group)?
Jocelyn : For a few years, I was on the Colorado chapter committee and then I served on the ASUG National Board of Directors for two years. I still actively participate in ASUG, frequently speaking at local chapter meetings. In May, I’ll be presenting at the annual ASUG/Sapphire Now conference in Orlando on the ERP training lifecycle.
John : What is the ERP training lifecycle?
Jocelyn : The ERP Training Lifecycle is based on a The ERP Training Life Cycle, Andy Klee, President of Klee Associates, authored. The article discusses the various phases and of the Lifecycle of an ERP system and how training is integrated (or should be) in each phase of the life of the enterprise system. And the article also provides details regarding how much money you should allocate to your IT training budget.
John : How much money should you invest in training for a project to be successful?
Jocelyn : Well, Gartner suggested that 13-17% of project costs should go on training, which is really high. If you think about your typical US$30 million SAP implementation, then 15% of that is pretty hefty for a training budget, and a lot of companies just can’t imagine spending that much on training. Another study by Cushing Anderson, an IT training industry thought leader, suggested 7% of budget to go on training, which is in line with what we suggest. We think that 7% is about accurate to have your project team trained and have the bandwidth and outside help to create really good end user training materials. We performed a poll of how much people actually spend and it’s about 3.6% on average, significantly lower than what Gartner, Mr. Anderson, and we suggest. That seems not uncommon to me in the corporate world – not just IT but also for employees and customers. There is not enough training investment to ensure on-going success in programmes.
For SAP implementations, good training makes it more likely you will meet your business goals and will also make you less dependent on consultants to run the system long term.
John : How do you get people up to speed with SAP software, which is sometimes very powerful and complex?
Jocelyn : There are different phases of the lifecycle of a project, not just implementation but also the after-phases, the second phase where you might add extra functionality or the “extending value” or “declining value” phases. Within the first implementation phase, there are three groups of users who need training : executives / senior managers, the project team and end users.
For executives and senior managers , the goal for their training is to get their buy-in and for them to be the key stakeholders and push down from the top the importance of the implementation. They need to truly understand and believe in the business benefits – that the project team has laid out and that the company is going to achieve by implementing such a huge system.
The project team are the people involved in the project day-to-day, beginning to end. Most of the project team often will not have prior SAP experience, they might have prior ERP experience. They may be from the IT team or the business. The way that we suggest these folks get trained is that you roll training out slowly during the blueprinting phase of the project. You don’t send them to four weeks of SAP “Academy” or you don’t bring in a consultant to teach for 2 weeks straight on site, because they won’t retain the learning. Especially if you do it at the beginning of the project, they won’t retain what you’ve taught them.
The best way to do it is to look at the blueprinting phase, and say that in this 3 week period, we’re going to focus on Master Data, so for the materials management team, we want you to learn about Material Master, Vendor Master and whatever other Master Data is required. Then you have a very focused two day session on Master Data, where you’re going to learn all the key concepts, the key configuration and some of the best practices, e.g. in picking one material type over the other. That’s a single example. The key is to have focused training sessions every few weeks and to have an expert on each session. You can get these sessions from your system integration consultants, but often they don’t have dedicated trainers and pre-prepared training materials. It can cost more to have the spaced out training, but the return on investment is higher because you don’t have the knowledge leakage you get when people are bombarded with lots of information at a time. And when training is not given at a time people can practice it.
John : This matches in with what I’ve been reading and Mobile Assessments Part 3 : Use quizzes or individual questions on mobile phones to help employees retain learning about spaced learning where this is more effective than massed learning. What about the end users?
Jocelyn : The end users are the most important users in my opinion, because they are the ones who are going to use the system day-in, day-out ; they are the ones that are going to be struggling when you go live with mistakes, or finding bugs or not really figuring out best to use the system for their business. A lot of system integrators will develop extensive end-user documentation, the problem with a lot of it is that it’s generic material and not looking at the specific customer needs.
What I suggest for end user training is that it’s great practice to have some sort of training documentation format that will export in multiple learning formats, one format might be a standard Word document with step-by-step instructions that someone can print off and have at their desk, if they are the kind of person who wants a “cookbook” type manual. Using the same recordings that you’ve done to explain how to do a transaction, you can also convert it to a “show me” lesson, so if someone wants to watch a demonstration, that can be a good training format for them. There are also other possible formats, I’m talking about software like UPerform, STT Trainer or Captivate. They all allow you to record a demonstration, save it and supplement it with comments, and make it specific to your company.
Something else key with end user training is the people you put on your project to develop end user training. I think that the most important people to develop end user training are actual end users. You select one person from each of the key departments who are going to be using SAP and invite them to be part of the project team. If you have the bandwidth, it’s best to involve them in blueprinting. But they are there to document training and to help test the system. The people that I would put into that role aren’t what people would typically think of, I would recommend that the person in that role is one of the more difficult people, someone who you would imagine would be a late adopter if you left them in the department and would drag their feet when you throw them a new system. If you can involve them and win them over during the implementation system, it will be that much easier for them to get others to learn.
John : What is your relationship with SAP Education?
Jocelyn : We are an independent third party trainer. We do license SAP software for our internal use. I’m not sure SAP even know about us, but if they did, I think they would appreciate the efforts that we’re making to provide good education services and help SAP users be successful. SAP has come a long way in recognizing that providing all the services for their product requires an ecosystem, and we are part of that. SAP provide software that provides great business benefit and others in the ecosystem implement it, train on it like we do, or provide third party packages that integrate it like you at Questionmark do. I think one of SAP’s strengths is that realize that they rely heavily on everyone in their ecosystem.
John : Do you use assessments or quizzes in your courses?
Jocelyn : We do use quizzes. We definitely agree that having quizzes throughout a class makes sense. Usually at the end of an exercise or module, we’ll stop the class and have a short quiz session to make sure people have understood the key concepts that people are learning about. We make the quizzes very focused and not too time-consuming, just to make sure people have understood the key concepts.
John : How do you get people to sustain their knowledge?
Jocelyn : We try to encourage companies to make sure that you’re not allowing knowledge leakage to happen after you go live, and that you’re continually sustaining the knowledge that you have. Or that you are adding to your knowledge by doing more training or subscribing to journals and publications. It’s important not to stop cold on training as soon as your implementation ends. There is lots you can do to sustain and improve knowledge after implementation.
John : If you had one piece of advice to someone starting managing a major SAP project, what would it be?
Jocelyn : Two pieces of advice! Give enough budget to training because if you invest in training, the project will be more successful. And of course, have a good system integrator, but that’s a whole other topic!