The value edge

JohannesburgXstrata Alloys, a business unit of the global diversified miner Xstrata, has concluded a training programme with SAP Education that has assisted in optimising value derived from the SAP solutions applied within the business.

The ongoing programme focuses on implementing best practices in the use of SAP and, in so doing, streamlining business processes through the increased utilisation of SAP.

Xstrata Alloys is a leading global ferrochrome producer, with a growing platinum group metals business and employs in excess of 15 000 people. In its last financial year, Xstrata Alloys generated revenue of over R9 billion.

Xstrata Alloys implemented SAP in 2006, but required training to maximise its use of the solution.

“Prior to implementing SAP, the business used around 107 disparate applications,” recalls Magriet Roos, Business Systems Manager for Xstrata Alloys. “An audit was conducted of all of these applications and a business case created for the move to SAP with the aim of providing a single system for consolidation with improved reporting, auditing and management of transactions, along with all the other benefits of having a fully integrated ERP environment.”

Approval for the rollout of SAP was duly obtained and Xstrata Alloys made the move to SAP in 2006.

“Training took place during the go-live phase of the project,” explains Roos. “Initially it was decided to outsource support to a partner, but after the go-live we realised that this would not be a sustainable solution for the business unit. What Xstrata Alloys really needed was to enable its people to take ownership of the business processes and in so doing allow for internal resources to maintain its own solution. There was also a great need to increase utilisation of the SAP solution and drive adoption of the technology within our company.”

Who better to provide such training than SAP itself?

“SAP Education’s training strategy begins by working with clients to identify focus area for training,” says Roos. “This ensures the training project does not waste time and resources in covering things the business already knows, and instead hones in on elements of usage of SAP where there is the greatest opportunity to provide value.

“However, after reviewing our business processes it was decided that Xstrata Alloys would require training in all areas relevant to the business,” she continues. “Initial training that took place while deploying the solution was focused on transactional processes, but we needed the business to take ownership of the technology in order to maximise value.

“So we began training with a focus on particular processes, and had a specific strategy for particular people we wanted to target with training,” says Roos. “This would be advanced training and focus on full functionality of SAP with an understanding of how systems integrate and how to get information out of the environment.

“There were a few training streams running that focused on the likes of financial management, cost accounting – and how these all fit together. Ten streams in total,” she states, “with an emphasis on how to extract effective reporting from the system.”

Roos says super users were also trained to provide a first level of support to the business with a deep understanding of modules in SAP

“By broadening the scope of what our people could do with SAP, they have also been inspired to explore functionality within the software, with the confidence that they understand what they are doing,” she says.

According to Roos, the training was a huge success and Xstrata Alloys is now beginning to reap the benefits of the programme. However, this was a first phase in a bigger training plan which Xstrata Alloys and SAP training continue to deliver on.

Marlene de Jager, Education Key Account Manager for SAP, says the process of defining training requirements is a lengthy one but pays dividends once an effective training programme has been deployed. “In the case of Xstrata Alloys, this was a key step in unlocking value.

“Better utilisation of SAP is an outcome of change management whereby users become more familiar with the technology through learning how to use it effectively,” she explains. “The initial apprehension we see in businesses when a new technology is implemented can be dealt with through training activities that allow individuals to better do their jobs with the use of the technology. Once they realise the value it offers them personally and take ownership of the solution, the business benefits from its applied and effective use.”

She says this hugely bolsters return on investment as the technology isn’t under-utilised.

Roos agrees: “The feedback we are receiving from business post-training is good and inspires us for the ongoing activity in educating our people. We are seeing a remarkable improvement in utilisation of the SAP solution and higher level use of the technology being expressed through advanced questions being logged by users.”

She says the business is able to streamline its processes and optimise its use of SAP with effective skills.

By working with SAP Education on an effective training programme that focused on key areas within Xstrata Alloys, the latter has maximised on the value it derives from the use of SAP and is driving efficiency into its business processes.


SAP is the world’s leading provider of business software (*), offering applications and services that enable companies of all sizes and in more than 25 industries to become best-run businesses. With more than 47 800 customers (excludes customers from the acquisition of BusinessObjects) in over 120 countries, the company is listed on several exchanges, including the Frankfurt stock exchange and NYSE, under the symbol “SAP”. (For more information, visit www.sap.com.)

(*) SAP defines business software as comprising enterprise resource planning and related applications.

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Faye Epstein
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