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Enterprise Learning - Linking Training to Company Performance

by Tammie Eldridge | SAPinsider

April 1, 2005

Even for those with a learning management system in place, many companies fail to make the connection between training and the organization’s bottom line. SAP’s enterprise learning solution -- which integrates with your HCM and other mySAP ERP components -- enables you to create and manage learning content, provide learners with personalized training programs, and evaluate learning progress and goals to ensure they are in line with corporate objectives.
 

Today's workforce faces myriad challenges — shorter product life cycles combined with increased complexity of products and services, increased globalization supported by decentralized systems and processes, a more mobile workforce with an emphasis on cost reduction, and the list goes on. The world within, between, and around enterprises constantly evolves, which is why knowledge can be the deciding factor that enables companies to either stay on top of trends, products, services, and processes, or to fall behind their competitors.

One common organizational response to these challenges is a mandate to push learning content to employees and track employees' training progress. Many organizations look to learning management systems (LMSs) to support these efforts. While this is core functionality of most LMSs, companies often stop there — and make no connection between learning and the financial and operating outcomes demanded by the business.

SAP now offers an enterprise learning solution that integrates with your Human Capital Management (HCM) and other mySAP ERP components. With SAP Learning Solution, you can create and manage learning content, provide learners with personalized training programs, and then take the next step — evaluate learning progress and goals to ensure they are in line with corporate objectives. Learning becomes a key process supporting all facets of performance management and knowledge transfer across an extended enterprise to drive business performance. Learning processes go hand in hand with the business processes in the enterprise.

Functions of SAP Learning Solution

The SAP Learning Solution consists of four components (see Figure 1):

The Authoring Environment, where instructional designers can create and structure learning content and tests based on SCORM standards.1

The Content Management System, where learning content is stored and managed, including versioning capabilities.

The Learning Management System, where training administrators create course catalogs and distribute them, along with the associated competencies, to employees or to sectors within an enterprise.

The Learning Portal, where learners, using a personalized, single point of entry, can register for courses and access them, see an overview of their training history and learning progress, and collaborate with other learners.

Not only are these components integrated with each other, but thanks to SAP NetWeaver's open platform, they are also integrated with your SAP ERP solutions, giving you the tools to directly measure your company's training against corporate objectives and, most importantly, the impact upon your ability to increase revenue, reduce risk, and contain costs.

Figure 1
The Four Main Components of Enterprise Learning

Putting the Pieces Together for End-to-End Enterprise Learning

Consider the following scenario to illustrate how the SAP Learning Solution and its integrated components help you to implement a truly enterprise learning solution that aligns with corporate strategies.

A department manager knows one of the key corporate, strategic initiatives for the coming year is to increase sales by 10%. The manager runs a revenue report of his staff using SAP Business Intelligence and determines that two-thirds of his employees increased sales revenue by 15% while the remainder had flat or declining sales revenue. From that report, via Manager Self-Services, the manager drills down into the training history of each employee and learns that the successful salespeople all had completed the company's online Basics of Selling curriculum, while the third whose revenue did not improve had not enrolled in the curriculum.

The manager meets with the training administrator, and the two construct a development plan for the sales staff. The Basics of Selling curriculum will be updated, and a new module will be added covering the company's new products. The manager sets an objective for his staff that everyone will have completed the Basics of Selling curriculum and/or the new products module by the end of Q2. In mySAP ERP HCM an objective-setting appraisal document for each employee is created, which will enable the manager to monitor who is completing the courses and who is not.

Utilizing the SAP Authoring Environment (see Figure 2) the course author updates the Basics of Selling online curriculum and creates a new section titled "New Product Overview." To construct the new content, the author employs a combination of presentation tools2 supported by the SAP Authoring Environment. The author also creates a multiple choice and true/false post-test using the SAP Test Author that will ensure the employees understand the curriculum.

Figure 2
The SAP Authoring Environment

The training administrator publishes the updated course and test to the SAP Content Management System. The version management capabilities record a new version for the revised content as well as the new section.

In the SAP Learning Management System, the training admin updates the catalog with the revised and new content. The LMS pushes out the content based on the original report from mySAP ERP HCM: the poor performers are offered the Basics of Selling curriculum with the New Product Overview module; the other two-thirds are offered just the New Product Overview.

Employees register and enroll in the Basics of Selling curriculum or the New Product Overview course from their personalized Learning Portal (see Figure 3 below). Additionally, learners can track their training history and identify any skill gaps they currently have based on their job or position within the organization and enroll in courses to help close the identified skill gap.

Figure 3
The Personalized Learning Portal

Seeing the Results: 5 Ways to Link Training to Financial and Operational Outcomes

As we have seen in the example above, the SAP Learning Solution can be integrated with SAP Business Intelligence so that training can be linked to operating performance. If a group of employees consistently performs below expectations, and an analysis reveals a training issue, training can be deployed to help close the gaps and improve performance. Its subsequent impact upon the shift can then be measured.

Because the SAP Learning Solution offers tight integration into backend Human Capital Management (HCM) and other ERP modules, training and development departments can more quickly make these results visible to stakeholders and easily align learning with the corporate strategy and business goals.

To make the connections between financial, operational, and HR goals, and to integrate training objectives into your business processes, here are just some examples of the ways you can integrate this solution into your current SAP solutions for HR and other areas of the business:

  • By integrating enterprise learning with mySAP ERP HCM Personnel Development, training proposals made during development planning can be converted directly into bookings or prebookings for courses.

  • By integrating with mySAP ERP HCM Training and Event Management, mySAP ERP HCM Personnel Development, and mySAP ERP HCM Organizational Management, employee training proposals can be exported to the SAP Learning Solution, which in turn can publish personal training proposals along with a catalog of the courses to fulfill them to the employee using the Learning Portal.

  • By integrating with mySAP ERP HCM Organizational Management, workflows related to training can be routed through managers using the reporting hierarchy, eliminating manual paper approval processes and ensuring that managers are more closely aware of and involved in the development of their employees.

  • By integrating with mySAP ERP Financials, training costs for employees can be managed by means of an internal activity allocation. Training costs can be debited from the employee's cost center.

  • By integrating with SAP Knowledge Management, courses can be combined with collaboration rooms that enable users to continue to share and learn outside of the traditional classroom. In collaboration rooms, for example, employees can create, browse, assign, edit, and track team tasks; share information and exchange ideas organized by discussion topics; create and share links and documentation; and instant message and chat in real time with multiple users.

The SAP Learning Solution comes with 32 different standard reports. In addition to reporting features for managers, training administrators, and instructors, the system enables Business Intelligence queries for more comprehensive analytical planning and reporting capabilities. Predefined queries on course- and learning-related information for line managers and training managers include costs, learning objectives, test results, and imparted qualifications.

By integrating your enterprise learning solution with various mySAP ERP modules, you not only will reduce TCO, you will be able to directly measure the impact of training on your organization's bottom line.

SAP Customer Services Network (SAP CSN)3 can assist with your enterprise learning management strategy, implementation, and training to ensure the success of your SAP Learning Solution initiative and maximize your employees' capabilities and performance.

For more information on SAP Learning Solution, please visit http://service.sap.com/learningsolution.


1 SCORM (Sharable Content Object Reference Model), the dominant e-learning standard, is a collection of specifications that enable interoperability, accessibility, and reusability of Web-based learning content. For more information on SCORM standards, visit www.adlnet.org.

2 Commonly used presentation tools, such as Microsoft PowerPoint and Macromedia Authorware, are supported by the SAP Authoring Environment.

3 For more on SAP CSN, see "Best-in-Class Software No Guarantee of Showcase Implementation — SAP Customer Services Network Is the Key" by Greg Tomb in the January-March 2005 issue of SAP Insider (www.SAPinsider.com).


Tammie Eldridge is a Solution Manager for SAP Labs, LLC, supporting the SAP Learning Solution, SAP Tutor, and mySAP ERP Performance Management products. Prior to solution management, Tammie served as a consultant implementing mySAP ERP HR solutions and building ROI business cases to help organizations justify the implementation of HR solutions. Before joining SAP, Tammie served as a Training Manager for a major manufacturing company as well as implemented the SAP Logistics module. She received a bachelor's degree in Business Administration in Management and a master's degree in Human Resources/Labor Relations from the University of Illinois at Springfield.

 

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