Spending Less Time in Classrooms

Feature Article | October 13, 2010 by Andrea Ackermann

SBB provides its employees with online SAP training (image: fotolia)

SBB provides its employees with online SAP training (image: fotolia)

Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is the largest travel and transport company in Switzerland, conveying around 327.5 million people and nearly 50 million net tons of goods every year. Of the 30,000 employees who keep its trains moving, 10,000 work with SAP – a number that presented SBB with a challenge in conducting SAP training courses.

Combining e-learning and traditional instruction

SBB used to follow the conventional method of carrying out SAP implementation projects, with instructors imparting knowledge to course participants in a simple lecture format. With up to 2,000 employees needing instruction, however, SBB quickly saw these “live courses” reach the limit of their usefulness. After all, each person has a different level of prior SAP knowledge, may work at one of a number of locations throughout Switzerland, and may be most fluent in German, French, or Italian.

SBB’s standard SAP courses are incremental in structure: Beginners receive an overview, followed by basic courses in individual topic areas. Participants then attend user courses pertaining to their respective fields of work before finishing with supplementary training, such as data evaluation or exports.

Before long, SBB’s training expenses had shot to dizzying levels. How could the company avoid having its employees travel just to attend training courses, which, to say nothing of the corresponding expenses, separated them from their actual work? SBB ultimately found the answer in the tandem of blended learning – a combination of e-learning and traditional instruction – and the software TT Knowledge Force.

Next page: Cost-effective, even with low participant numbers

SBB optimized its SAP training courses with blended learning (image: SBB)

SBB optimized its SAP training courses with blended learning (image: SBB)

Instruction over the Internet

To make sure they know the basics of SAP, SBB employees now receive online instruction in the form of Web-based training (WBT). More detailed knowledge is still communicated through traditional training in small groups, but these courses take less time thanks to the portions already covered in WBT.

Meanwhile, the SAP-certified TT Knowledge Force supports SBB’s e-learning program. Promising a user-friendly interface and clear menu navigation, the software contains modular components that facilitate different methods of knowledge transfer. For example, users can start with a single learning program or manage existing documentation with TT Integrator before making it available to other users through the online help section of TT Accelerator.
A supply chain for knowledge

With the recording and re-recording functions of TT Author, users can recreate obsolete documentation step by step. TT Knowledge Force is also known as a “supply chain for knowledge”: It enables participants to work on a common platform, access existing work results, and gradually enrich documentation with more and more input.

In cases where the software is implemented in multiple locations, TT Localizer helps adapt content to specific business areas, languages, and other individual characteristics. SBB uses TT Knowledge Force to create and manage course documentation, which makes up-to-date information, additional training, and simulation exercises available to course participants even after their sessions are over.

Cost-effective, even with low participant numbers

Another challenge SBB faced involved dealing with very low participant numbers in its standard SAP courses: Just 10 to 30 people need each course at a given point in time. However, a minimum number of participants are required in order to offer courses in a cost-effective manner. This is why SBB used to hold its courses just once or twice each year, which made it impossible to respond promptly to employees’ training needs.

Based on its positive experiences with blended learning in its implementation projects, SBB is now switching its standard courses to the same system. The company has already used TT Knowledge Force to create a WBT offering basic knowledge for beginners in three languages. Employees who need immediate training can thus complete the WBT to prepare for more detailed courses, which are conducted in traditional live sessions.

Plans to leverage WBT in traditional instruction

In addition, SBB is currently developing a special combination of blended learning. Since its existing training system only partially supports new system landscapes involving BW/BI, RPM, or Web applications, the company is planning to conduct certain exercises as WBT in a live setting. These simulations are to be recorded as WBT in advance with TT Knowledge Force and then called up live on PCs during conventional training sessions.

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