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Léger_Pierre-Majorique.jpgUniversity Alliances (UA) Research spotlights Professor Pierre-Majorique Léger from the HEC Montreal who has co-developed the acclaimed simulation game, ERPsim, to help students learn ERP-related concepts.

The goal of this series is consistent with the goal of the UA Spotlight Series, to exchange insights with UA professors, students, researchers and others linked to universities from around the world.

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you currently located? What university and department are you affiliated with? A fun fact or hobbies that you’d like to share with the community?

I am currently a Full Professor, in the Department of IT, at HEC Montréal were I have worked for the past 10 years.

Learning with games is extremely efficient. I relate this interest to my work as well. I like to create engaging experiences in the classroom which bring students to be in an active learning mode.

Ironically, there are no video games at home! For an evening of good family fun, instead I prefer to play board games with my kids.

Share a bit about your SAP, UA and UA Research background and history.

I was first introduced to SAP during my Ph.D. studies, in industrial engineering, at École Polytechnique de Montréal. At the time, my research adviser, Dr. Louis A. Lefebvre, was also on the Advisory Board of the UA Program. These experiences with SAP have benefited me; when I looked for faculty positions my SAP background was an important factor in joining HEC Montréal.

Early in my academic career, I realized that teaching ERP systems to undergrad students was quite challenging. Along with my colleagues Jacques Robert and Gilbert Babin, both full Professors at HEC Montréal, as well as Bret Wagner, from Western Michigan University, and Robert Pellerin, from École Polytechnique de Montréal, I have developed a simulation game called ERPsim which aims at engaging students in the learning of ERP-related concepts.

In ERPsim, students must operate an enterprise within a simulated economic environment using in real time a real-life ERP system, namely SAP. Over the years, we have developed a series of games that address various pedagogical needs in ERP training.

pml1.JPGTell us about your current research projects. What projects are you working on? What do you hope or expect to find out through your research projects?

I am currently Director of ERPsim Lab, and Co-Director of Tech3Lab. ERPsim Lab is developing a series of serious games needed to learn IT, and, more specifically, ERP systems.

Since 2004, ERPSim has been used as a pedagogical approach by over 200 professors, lecturers, and professional trainers in over 160 universities worldwide.

Between September 2009 and June 2011, more than 3,000 simulation games were played by 16,398 teams  composed of university students across the SAP University Alliances (teams typically being composed from 3 to 5 members). Since 2008, ERPsim is also used commercially by SAP customers to train their employees via Baton Simulations and SAP Education.

Our latest innovation is called ERPsim BI. It enables the game to be functional under SAP Business Objects Technologies. SAP UA will be able to play games under SAP Crystal Reports and Crystal Dashboard.

I am also the Co-Director of Tech3Lab. Recently financed by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Tech3Lab allows advanced research into the decision-making processes of individuals and groups using information technologies.

The laboratory will have neurophysiological and oculometric tools for studying collaboration and decision-making among users of business applications and decision making by Internet consumers.

pml2.JPGAmong our current research projects, we have just been granted, along with seven other professors issued from different faculties at HEC Montréal, an important research fund from the Social Science Research Council of Canada in conjunction with SAP to study mobile business user experience.

One of my main research interests is related to the training of end user in ERP systems. There is a great synergy between my two Labs on this topic. At Tech3Lab, we learn from our research how people learn IT; these experiences are also applicable to our game development at ERPsim Lab. The ERPsim community, both academic and commercial, directly benefits from this value chain.

What do you like most about the University Alliances Community on the new Jive platform? How does this help/improve your SAP knowledge? How does this improve your regular UAC activities? How can (or do) your students benefit from the UAC?

Engagement into the community.

Every year, I teach, along with Gilbert Babin, a capstone course for IT major undergrad students at HEC. In this class, students work with a real-life customer which provides a live case study.

The students are given a 12-week period to review the situation and develop a solution and prototype. At the end, they must showcase their solutions to the “customer.” These presentations are opened to the HEC Montréal IT community to meet with our most recent graduates.

During this project, the students are using the SAP SCN forum to interact with real-life consultants and business users. Not only do the students learn more about the technology and techniques, but they also learn how to solve problems, and, most importantly, develop and broaden their network.

When they have job interviews, they can share their experiences, and tap into the network. SAP is the only solution being used in the classroom that has a network like this available.

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