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Thinking of Cutting Your Team's Training Budget? Think Again! New Cost-Effective Delivery Options from SAP Education

by Ken Schieffer | SAPinsider

October 1, 2009

When times are tough, employee training is often the first thing to go. Understand why a downturn is precisely the wrong time to cut your training budget, and discover new education and training programs from SAP that are now offered in a wide variety of delivery options to meet the needs of today’s workforce.
 

Many organizations see employee training as a discretionary investment. When times are tough, it’s often the first thing to go. But as I firmly believe — and as research proves — a downturn is precisely the wrong time to cut your training budget. Instead, businesses must hunker down and invest only in activities that will pay off in the long run. Education is one of those investments. Your company needs to be stronger and leaner in the upturn, and only with well-trained, flexible, and resourceful employees can you make this transition a successful one.

That doesn’t mean, however, that your organization should think of education in only the traditional, classroom-based sense. Education and training programs from SAP are now offered in a wide variety of delivery options to meet the needs of today’s workforce. In the following pages, I’ll introduce you to the flexible training options now available from SAP, as well as some innovative new offerings we’ve just released in the last few months.

Why Now Is the Ideal Time to Invest in Education

Companies need to invest in education for three important reasons:

  1. You need a flexible workforce. Companies are consolidating. They’re introducing new technology. They’re adjusting the size and scope of their workforce, and they’re shuffling talent across departments and job functions. With so much change, it’s harder than ever for organizations to ensure that employees have all the skills they need to optimize their effectiveness. Placing individuals in jobs for which they haven’t been trained equates to a significant loss in workforce productivity.
  2. With innovative training options, you can use your training dollars more cost effectively. Organizations need training now more than ever. But if that training is delivered only in a classroom environment, the number of individuals trained will be reduced dramatically — resulting in an unskilled workforce with lower productivity. Non-traditional training approaches, including virtual classrooms and e-Learning, become very important to boost training’s cost-effectiveness.
  3. Regulatory and compliance requirements haven’t gone away. Companies face all sorts of regulatory issues. Without continuing to invest in education — to learn how a business management application can help them meet regulatory requirements, or how they must change a solution in order to meet those requirements — they’re going to fall out of compliance. If employees implemented a solution three years ago, they did so based on the compliance requirements they knew at that particular time. Things have changed since then. And unless your employees understand how to change the solution in order to meet the most current compliance issues, they may encounter a problem with their regulatory body.

Innovative Delivery Methods Offer Flexibility and Reduced Total Costs

In response to our customers’ need for increased workforce flexibility, cost effectiveness, and continued compliance, SAP Education has developed a selection of enhanced, flexible learning opportunities:

  • e-Learning courses: SAP’s e-Learning offerings are a catalog of highly interactive, Web-based courses that include both instructional elements and simulations based on real business situations. This on-demand, self-paced option lets the learner decide what training courses to take and when to take them — for a just-in-time learning need, for example. As employees’ roles change, they can immediately adapt their training plan to the requirements of the new role. With the e-Learning option, learners can take courses of interest to them and expand their overall knowledge, positioning themselves for challenging new roles in the future.
  • Online knowledge products (OKPs): OKPs provide the earliest training available on new SAP software releases, as well as changes in functionality between software releases. OKPs are self-paced courses delivered online; learners can access them as often as needed for up to six months after purchase. OKPs are available early in the product life cycle — before the general release of the software solution — helping learners gain a competitive edge.
  • Virtual live classroom training: This instructor-led, virtual learning option brings the classroom experience to the student live over the Internet (see Figure 1), eliminating the hassles and cost of travel. The instructor delivers courses in real time, allowing learners to meet their knowledge needs in an interactive environment without having to leave the office. With virtual live classrooms, students can ask questions (and get them answered) in real time. They also enjoy longer daily access to SAP training servers for hands-on activities than in traditional SAP classrooms, and access to printable electronic versions of course materials.
Figure 1 A sample virtual live classroom learning environment

Content Coverage and Quality Is Still Paramount

Diminishing travel budgets make flexible, Web-based learning options particularly attractive. But there’s often a misconception that non-traditional training methods don’t deliver the same quality of content that comes with traditional “brick-and-mortar” classroom-style delivery options. Make no mistake: Whether you pursue e-Learning courses, OKPs, or virtual live classroom training, you’ll benefit from the same content you’d see in our standard SAP Education courses.

Of course, SAP Education’s traditional classroom training still serves as a quality baseline, as do our education products including the SAP Acrobat Connect Professional Learning application by Adobe or the SAP Productivity Pak application by RWD (also known as RWD uPerform).1

Education Roadmap: New Options to Accelerate Learning and Augment Performance

Beyond the delivery methods noted above, SAP Education has recently released two brand-new learning options: eAcademies and Learning on Demand.

For users looking to get certified in SAP’s certification program areas,2 eAcademies are a convenient, cost-effective learning option. eAcademies are an on-demand, self-paced, e-Learning version of our in-person solution academy program. The learner gets flexible, “wherever/whenever” access to e-Learning content, live training systems, and help-desk support over a defined access period. During that time, students can work through hands-on activities and learning modules at their own pace, as well as access mentor tips and expert know-how via voice or Web-based chat.

SAP has also launched the Learning on Demand Web site, available since July 2009 (see Figure 2). From this central site, SAP solution users and independent consultants have access to a portfolio of SAP knowledge assets — from e-Learning materials and whitepaper downloads to forums, discussion boards, and information on our eAcademies and classroom offerings. We call the Learning on Demand portal “learning at your fingertips.” It makes quality SAP learning materials available to your staff members where and when they need it.

Figure 2 The Learning on Demand home page

SAP Education Provides Countless Advantages

At SAP Education, we have people, skills, knowledge, and corporate resources that are unmatched in the industry — and because we are SAP, we are the source of the information your employees need to know. Our education portfolio provides you with cost-effective, flexible training options to help your company thrive in today’s difficult economic environment.

We also offer dedicated education experts to help you sort through all of our learning options (see Figure 3) and determine which combination of solutions will best serve your organization. Based on your company’s size and learning needs, we’ll help you tailor a program that gets the most educational bang for your training buck. If you haven’t already, we encourage you to develop an ongoing relationship with the SAP Education team. To get started, contact our Customer Interaction Center at +1 888 777-1727.

SAP Education delivery method

Description

Benefits of this delivery option

e-Learning

Training targeted to entry-level customers and partners in need of  online access to foundational, business process, and role-based application and technical learning libraries

Contain costs by avoiding travel expenses

Improve productivity via shortened training cycles and increased end-user adoption and reach

Reduce turnover by improving employee commitment and self-confidence

Online knowledge products (OKPs)

Targeted to customers and partners who have baseline experience with SAP applications and need the earliest training available on new SAP solutions or on changes in software functionality from release to release

Reduce costs by avoiding travel expenses

Improve productivity via shortened training cycles and increased end-user adoption and reach

Reduce turnover by improving employee commitment and self-confidence

Virtual live classroom

The same training content delivered in SAP’s traditional “brick-and-mortar” classrooms, but presented in a remote, Web-based environment

Eliminate travel hassles and costs

Engage in training from wherever you choose

Enjoy access to a live instructor for the course’s duration

Gain longer daily access to SAP servers for hands-on activities than in traditional SAP classrooms; access is not limited to training center hours

eAcademies

Prepares students for certification exams and provides access to e-Learning content, training systems, and help desk support over a 3- to 5-month period

Access course content that is designed specifically for consultants and that focuses on business process and solution areas

Enjoy a flexible format that allows students to proceed at their own pace and repeat lessons as needed while providing interactive snapshots and simulated exercises

Learning on Demand

Provides complete access to SAP knowledge assets — from e-Learning materials, whitepapers, forums, and discussion boards to information on eAcademies and classroom offerings

Bring quality SAP learning materials to your company and your staff where and when it’s needed for “learning at your fingertips”

Figure 3 Working with the SAP Education team, you can pinpoint which training topics and delivery options are the best fit for your organization's learning requirements

Ken Schieffer (kenneth.schieffer@sap.com) is an Education Principal in SAP’s US Education Delivery Group, responsible for the rollout of the SAP certification program in the US. Part of the SAP Education team since 1997, Ken has served both in his current role and as a platinum SAP financials instructor. Prior to joining SAP in 1997, Ken led one of the SAP implementation teams at Delmarva Power in Wilmington, Delaware.


1 To learn more about these offerings, please visit www.sap.com/usa/services/education/catalog/index.epx and www.sap.com/usa/services/education/softwareproducts/index.epx. [back]

2 To learn more about SAP’s certification program, please visit www.sap.com/usa/services/education/certification/index.epx. [back]

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