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Q and A


Build a training program for greater user self-sufficiency: Q&A with SAP's Kerry Brown (Transcript)

by Laura Casasanto

I recently moderated a web forum with SAP’s Kerry Brown, Vice President of Enablement for SAP Education, on training that builds end user self-sufficiency and adoption. Kerry gave practical advice on the right time for introducing training, making the most of the tools you have to support training, creative ways to cultivate both formal and informal super users, no-cost benchmarking opportunities, and other topics.

For the full Q&A, you can view the questions and Kerry’s responses in the Project Management Forum, or read excerpts from the transcript of the Q&A below.


Laura Casasanto: Welcome to today's Q&A with SAP’s Kerry Brown on enabling more self-sufficient end users.

Kerry is Vice President of Enablement for SAP Education, and has plenty of SAP customers about their training needs, successes, and new strategies.

We’re happy to have Kerry back in the Project Management Forum for a followup to her live Q&A earlier this year on change management, and her interviews with Project Expert on that topic.  Kerry is always ready to share her practical advice from her own project experience as well as in her role in working with SAP customers.

Thank you, Kerry, for joining us again today and taking questions over this next hour!

ChuckLazan: We are starting an SAP implementation project; migrating from another off-the-shelf but highly customized ERP system. What best practices can you share to improve end user acceptance of the SAP solution? Awareness and process training prior to implementation? Recommendations for follow-on end user training post Go-Live, etc?

Kerry Brown: Chuck, an exciting change for your company.  Certainly awareness is the first step to developing acceptance for your user population.

One of the best approaches is to share success stories from other companies that have relevancy to your organization - I expect you became familiar with some of these during your selection process. Alternately, contact SAP or ASUG for other contacts.

With regard to other considerations for acceptance: A key answer for everyone in the company is WIFM - what's in it for me? The more specific the benefit to each user the better - though answers of how the solution benefits the company overall supporting growth, cost management, etc., are also valid.

Lastly - for post go-live training: It is great that you are thinking about that now.  The reason being that you can develop training approaches that are more easily maintained and updated to support sustainability in as self-sufficient a manner as possible.  Tools such as Productivity Pak that support collaboration between authors and users are also helpful to drive performance support and a community of people within your company helping support ongoing performance and process improvements.

Ellen Walsh: Hi Kerry!

Where can i get more information on Productivity Pak?

Kerry Brown: Ellen - here is the link on Productivity Pak. It is a great tool for documentation, performance support and, as I mentioned, collaboration between user and author.  Ideally it is used starting during testing with continued use through end user training and beyond go-live.  However, we see customers adding this into their toolset for ongoing documentation and performance support post go-live as well.  This link on provides more information on the product as well as a link to a demo and a solution brief.

Kathleen Baine: Can you tell me best practices on having an SAP Power User Group? At what level in an organization should it be organized? Should IT be the owner and facilitator of the power users, or the business units? What incentives are recommended to recruit and retain power users? What is expected of power users?

Kerry Brown: A great and often asked question. Recently Julie Stokes from Fluor wrote an article "How to Build a Super User Program that will Last" based on her experiences at Fluor.  Some key elements of her learnings are: build a succession plan, create a role definition for the super user. 

One success factor that we discussed as well that is a great one is to create an opportunity 1-2x per year for the super user to connect with the process owner at an executive level.  Typically this doesn't happen very often and is a way to recognize and reward the super user as well as create ongoing communication across the organization regarding process improvement.

With regard to organization - it should be owned wherever it will receive the most support.  In my experience the super/power users are typically from the business, as "super" use of SAP is not about IT, but rather about running a 'best run business'.  There are a couple of approaches to this: full business ownership or alternately shared ownership between business and IT.  What this raises is really the ideal scenario where the engagement model between business and IT is clearly outlined and commitments from both organizational groups are understood and defined supporting budget, headcount and associated investment.

In terms of recruitment and retention - the recognition mentioned in the last post is a fantastic way to build a cycle of improvement and communication.  Often it is difficult to 'pay' differently for employees depending on your union or compensation rules.  Recognition can afford a privilege or honor to being part of the super user community and positively impacting the business.

The roles of super users vary by organization: full time, part time, support, training, documentation, etc. What is key is to build a strategy that will work for your organization  in terms of coverage and responsibility.

In reality, EVERY company has a super user program. Some are just completely informal and are a 'word of mouth' support system, we all know who we call for help - ideally though creating some structure around these helpful people will provide more momentum and consistency.

Laura Casasanto: Kerry, it seems a lot of customers are challenged by the business to lower TCO per user for training and roll-out costs. What are you seeing companies do to successfully achieve those lower numbers?

Kerry Brown:You're right - and this continues to be a goal post-go-live as well.  This really involves a number of components, some we have been discussing already:

- engagement model between business and IT

- super user program and capabilities

- user performance measurement

- ongoing training approach for sustainability

We have talked a little about the business/IT engagement model - why this is critical is that if it is broken, it's difficult to drive change.  IT will continue to own the 'costs' but cannot fully impact user performance and total cost of ownership as they don't own the business which is where the user performance plays out.

Measurement is a powerful way to guide TCO activities and investment.  Some of the challenges we see customers face is what to do and who to help - with good information on user performance it is possible to target training efforts and $$ effectively.

A great way to do this is by using Knoa - a tool that shows the user activity and takes away urban legend regarding issues...using a scorecard it shows the volume of errors, time of transactions, etc...and as a result can focus the solution on the user, the system, etc.

On a positive note - this also allows identification of strong performance - the fastest...with the fewest errors...which can be replicated to leverage best practices across an organization.

Dave Hannon: Kerry,

What about timing for training on a specific rollout? Is it possible to start user training too early and lose some momentum before go live?

Kerry Brown: Training timing for a given rollout should always follow the golden rule - "use it or lose it".  In effect making sure that training is connected as closely as possible to use and application of that training. 

A good way to gauge this is to think of training in context:

- a day in the life

- a week in the life

- a month in the life

- a quarter in the life

- a year in the life

By doing that you can determine when to train what content - so the day one activities are trained pre-go-live and the others are trained post go-live or developed as support guides for self-learning depending on the complexity.  One good approach for this is simulations, something that can be done using documentation tools like Productivity Pak that I mentioned earlier. This supports the opportunity to watch, try and test a users capability - the testing component call also be linked to your LMS or compliance tracking.

In terms of 'too early' is possible - yes, as really, folks are busy doing their day-to-day job.  Process training and familiarization with business transformation are good topics that will educate the employees on expectations, as well as set them up for successful training which will be more specific to the activities they will perform and learn in training.

Laura Casasanto: For those who registered for today’s Q&A, the download link you received with your registration confirmation includes a sample project roadmap with suggested points for training opportunities along the way - from planning through post go-live.

If you haven't yet registered, you can still do so now here.

Scott Wallask: Hi Kerry -- Do you have any recommended benchmarks for a successful user adoption effort for a new module or implementation? I saw a figure recently that gauged success at an 80% user adoption rate and was wondering if that was reasonable.

Kerry Brown: User adoption is really what it's all about - "where the rubber hits the road" if you will.  The ability for folks to do their jobs effectively is what drives ROI for the company, which is why SAP was selected in the first place.

What I can tell you is that in a survey we did on Organizational Change Management (OCM) we saw a 20% increase in user acceptance based on a good program for OCM.

Right now we are completing an updated survey looking at user adoption, training, organizational change management, super users, sustainability, etc...and what's exciting about this survey is that it is supported by our Value Management team, which will allow customers to benchmark now as well as compared to best practices and the marketplace as well as leverage in the future to do ongoing benchmarking vs peers or other industries.

I encourage you and everyone on the Q&A session to complete this survey and give yourself some good information for now and in the future.

In terms of your adoption rate - that is reasonable and is a reflection of the program for user adoption used.  This would include communication, organizational alignment, training to ensure full preparation with respect to organizational alignment, roles and responsibilities, incentives and skills & capabilities.

Some companies do testing of proficiency prior to providing security - often done through the simulation tool I mentioned earlier.

Kathleen Baine: Has anyone else developed customized online Help for SAP? We did. We have many custom processes and procedures for our different locations, and each one needed custom training. We have it in an online Help format as well as the original training manuals created for each. Do other companies do this? We are told our online Help is quite valuable to the users.

Kerry Brown: Providing online help is certainly best practice, and as you mentioned, very valuable and appreciated by the user population.  What makes this most valuable is when it is designed by role to meet the user 'where they are at' in a customized manner. 

Good components to include in this are training links, job aids, definitions, policies, etc. and the more specific the better. 

Earlier we discussed best practices regarding super users - this is a good place to link back support and authorship and role definitions to connect the user, support, document maintenance and such to drive a continuous process of enablement throughout your company. 

Sounds like you're on the right track!

Antoine Cadot-Wood: Hi Kerry,

Thanks for making yourself available today. I've been talking with a lot of customers lately that are starting mobility projects, and had a question: How is training different for mobility projects vs. for example an ERP rollout?

Kerry Brown: Great question! And one that I have been exploring inside SAP as well as with SAP customers.  The scope of mobility projects can vary in scope of audience, but typically the breadth of transaction or skill changes is smaller.  What this means is some elements can be self-taught. What is key is to ensure that you are able to achieve not only skill execution, but also adoption.

The components of communication, role expectations and in some cases training are all essential then to get the desired adoption to drive the expected results.

I would caution or highlight not to forget these components and think "if you build it they will come" - just putting technology out there without adoption will not achieve the anticipated results.

Laura Casasanto: Kerry, you mentioned some good tools in your answers today. Along those lines, what are some tools customers already have or can easily implement to assist in training?

Kerry Brown: I would encourage as customers look at their toolbox to consider the many ways or alternative ways to leverage what they have, ie: many customers have Productivity Pak, but aren't using the collaboration component to drive performance support within the user/super user community.

Another reason I suggest this is to embrace and explore the way technology...can support performance and drive social learning - for example, SAP has a free tool called Streamwork that can provide an entry into these kinds of tools  

I would also like to highlight the Education Resource Center which has a variety of whitepapers, docs, etc. that can give you some more ideas.

Kathleen Baine: Thanks. Great info from this forum.

Kerry Brown: Why thank you - glad it was helpful!

Ellen Walsh: Kerry & Laura,

You provided a wealth of valuable information today - thank you!

Kerry Brown: My pleasure - thanks for participating!

Laura Casasanto: Thanks to all who followed the discussion today!

A full summary of all the questions will be available here in the Project Management Forum and in the Project Management Group on Insider Learning Network.  The Project Management Group also offers ongoing information and additional resources on project management, training, archived Q&As from the Project Management forum, and alerts for upcoming Q&As.

Kerry Brown: Thanks Laura.

I would like to share again with everyone that we are completing an updated survey looking at user adoption, training, organizational change management, super users, sustainability, etc...and what's exciting about this survey is that it is supported by our Value Management team which will allow customers to benchmark now as well as compared to best practices and the marketplace as well as leverage in the future to do ongoing benchmarking vs peers or other industries.

Please complete this survey and give yourself some good information for now and in the future. This is a global survey so will also be helpful to those of you addressing current or future global implementations and support questions.

Laura: I also want to share some additional resources:

- If you were a registered attendee of last week’s Managing Your SAP Projects 2011 conference, you can download Kerry’s presentation on training and change management techniques (in the Conference Materials section on your home page). 

- Kerry also recently moderated a free webinar series from SAP: the Learning 2020 series on the Future of Training with Marcia Conner, social learning expert and  columnist with Fast Company magazine.

- And again here’s the link to a free benchmarking tool that SAP customers will no doubt be interested in: Simply complete this survey before November 15 and give your feedback on Enablement offerings from SAP. Not only will you receive a customized report with the results, you’ll also get access to a tool to run your own benchmarking reports and measure yourself against your peers on a go-forward basis.

This was a great forum! Thank you to everyone involved!  And again, thanks for taking questions here today, Kerry! 

Check back at Insider Learning Network often to learn about future live forums held on a variety of topics from project management, to analytic tools, to financial solutions, and everything in between.

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