Today, many companies use e-learning. Content, which is prepared on multimedia as web based training (WBT) and made available via network-based platforms, can be used to explain the latest services or current product range to field sales staff, for example. The content often have just a single objective, and cannot be extended or transferred to other departments, such as service. With their closed content, most learning platforms are stand-alone solutions, and are not available in a comprehensive, standardized training environment that can be modified to suit individual requirements. These stand-alone solutions lack the flexibility and integrative capability needed to allow companies to use existing information and data from existing human resources and ERP systems. As a result, it is often the case that companies have several learning platforms. This increases the cost and effort involved and negates the savings that a company had originally hoped to make through implementing an e-learning solution.
Courses in the firing line
The practical side of business knowledge transfer and training has come under fire. For example, a study conducted by the consulting firm McKinsey in May 2003 reveals how senior management in large companies evaluate the methods and products for employee training. Whether specialist knowledge is offered via web-based training or offline multimedia on the one hand, or conventional classroom training is conducted on the other, executive boards are generally demanding that training programs are integrated more tightly in the business processes. Corporate training, that is to say a qualification program for training across the company that is specifically geared towards the corporate strategy, pursues this aim of integration. Individual employee training courses can then be derived from this corporate training, for example to provide country-specific language qualifications if the company plans to extend internationally. With the help of employee profiles and a skills database, the training programs can then be specifically assigned to the individual employees. According to senior management, corporate training should be geared towards specific corporate goals. The success or failure of the training measures should be evaluated and the benefit for the company ascertained. The main responsibility for developing an overall concept and suitable measures should lie with the human resources department, rather than the technical departments.
Solution for training and business
The new SAP Learning Solution meets these challenges. It can be used to determine the qualifications required and derive training measures from this information. SAP provides a comprehensive solution for targeted learning, consisting of a learning portal, learning management system, authoring tools, and content management system. Here, SAP offers best practice in the area of e-learning with the relevant human resource management tools. For example, current personnel data and information on employees and their activities and qualifications is stored and managed in the company’s personnel system. Results about the employees’ level of qualification are automatically transferred to the company’s skills database and can therefore be used for targeted personnel development and resource planning alike. SAP Learning Solution can be seamlessly integrated in SAP solutions such as mySAP Human Resources (mySAP HR) or mySAP Enterprise Resource Planning (mySAP ERP). As a result, it is possible to devise and plan the best possible qualification measures on the basis of company-specific data and information.
With SAP Learning Solution, the company has a flexible learning solution which it can integrate in its business processes. The solution can link the world of training with the world of work so that learning is not just an end in itself, but rather provides specific support for a particular employee’s own working processes. This means that content can be used and reused, to obtain knowledge in the first instance, and then to provide an interactive reference pool – learning on demand – with a direct reference to the work process in question.
The SAP Learning Solution fulfils a number of aims. The training measures for individual areas can be bundled together on one platform and executed where specifically required. The learning solution can be used for the distribution of specialist knowledge and training measures and also as a tool for strategic personnel development. Integrated processes, for approving and settling training measures, or entering a new qualification in the skills database, for example, avoid data redundancy and significantly reduce the total cost of ownership (TCO) for a company-wide, integrated learning solution.
If a company develops “learning scorecards,” in which the objectives of the training measures are aligned with the equivalent strategic aims, concrete training requirements can be determined for individual areas departments in the company, and can even be broken down to individual employee level. Alternatively, they can enable a company to draw up concepts for assessing the current training requirements of each employee. This is done for example by comparing the requirement profile of a job description with the employee’s qualification profile, and evaluating the results. In this process, the solution automatically proposes the appropriate training measures.
E-learning takes the lead
Customer experience has revealed the circumstances under which web-based learning has advantages over the transfer of specialist knowledge in conventional training courses. One practical example makes this clear: For the introduction of software in the Robert Bosch corporate group, web-based training units and classroom training courses were offered in parallel. The activities were intended to support the roll-out of SAP Travel Expenses in 65 German locations. Beforehand, the online learning program and the objectives and reasons for the applications were explained to employees. Thanks to these accompanying measures, prejudices and acceptance problems relating to electronic learning could be avoided.
During the training itself and in the tests that followed, the advantages of online learning were revealed. If the content was conveyed in electronic form, the level of knowledge was more uniform across all employees. In contrast, in the classroom sessions, it was found that the instructors placed emphasis on different aspects of the content and the concluding tests revealed that employees were sometimes too unfamiliar with certain topics. The interactive simulations of the production system won particular acceptance among the training participants, and a further advantage of online learning was the fact that content could be used later as active support in the workplace or as interactive reference material once the training had been completed. Web-based training proved itself to be a suitable method of teaching employees about SAP applications.
Future-oriented and innovative learning solutions help a company gain and keep a competitive edge. This is only possible if the training program is integrated in the corporate strategy and thus the objectives of the training measures can be related to corporate aims. A company-wide learning solution only be a success if it is flexible enough meet a wide variety of different requirements on a central platform.
To convince management tomorrow of how an e-learning investment can benefit the company, it is necessary to prove today how the company, and thus the management, will profit from the investment.