How is Shell International training 112,000 employees on multiple ERP systems across 36 countries – cost-effectively? How did Jo Ann Stores train 500 employees on their SAP upgrade in less than 3 weeks? How did Airbus – a global company of 52,000 employees – successfully prove to the Civil Aviation Authority that their employees were properly trained in all matters pertaining to manufacturing?
The answer to all three is simulation based training. What are simulations? Simulation based training is a method of training end-users of business applications – such as SAP, Oracle and PeopleSoft – by enabling them to train in a safe environment where mistakes made during the learning process do not have a negative impact on the system. Similar to a flight simulator, a software simulation allows users to attempt tasks in what appears to be their “live” system environment. End-users are guided with step-by-step instructions and support as they attempt to perform a task in the simulation of their live system.
To try a live simulation online, visit www.kaplanitlearning.com/stt
Experts agree on the benefits of simulations Commenting on the benefits of simulations, Jaco Smit, Business Development Manager for Intentia – largest ERP vendor to the midsize market – says, “New software is always very intimidating for the end user. And I believe that with simulations our customers gain user acceptance and competency early on. Plus, they are be able to minimize the loss in productivity due to staff turnover, because you can immediately bring someone new up-to-speed with the prepared training material, and even test their competency before giving them a sign-on to the system.”
Industry experts agree. As cited in Gartner’s report entitled “Application Simulation”, simulations can aid major software deployments by not only improving user training and knowledge retention, but also by saving money.
Below are some examples of how simulations are being used today to cost-effectively train and support hundreds to thousands of application end-users.
Shell International drives technology efficiencies Shell International currently runs 6,000 software applications based on 123 different ERP systems around the world. In a drive to streamline their technology, reduce the overall cost of their IT infrastructure and improve business process integration, Shell has begun a long-term plan called Global SAP (GSAP).
As new systems come into place and with the addition of thousands of new users to these systems, Shell will need to ensure their 112,000 employees worldwide are trained quickly and effectively. To achieve this monumental training objective, Shell will continue to rely on simulations.
Shell People (the Global HR division) currently uses simulations to support 12,000 HR professionals and 10,000 line managers. For Shell’s GSAP plan of technology consolidation, Shell has developed more than 1,500 simulation lessons to meet training and support requirements across the multiple applications globally.
Simulations will enable Shell to minimize time spent in the classroom, reduce travel costs associated with training, accelerate learning and improve knowledge retention – all at a fraction of the time and cost of traditional classroom based training.
Once the training has been completed, end users will always have access to the simulation lessons as refresher training for infrequent users and as online help for ongoing support.
Jo Ann Stores crafts a more effective method of training Jo Ann Stores, the leading national fabric and craft retailer in the U.S., successfully trained and tested 500 of their end users on SAP in just three weeks, using simulations.
The customized simulations trained users across a range of Jo Ann Stores’ SAP modules, including Financial Accounting, Controlling, Materials Management, and Sales and Distribution.
“The simulations we created ensured everyone was prepared to use the latest version of SAP a week before roll out,” says Stacey Harris, Training Manager for Jo Ann Stores. “These same simulations continue to be used as refresher training via desktops, so end users and new recruits can use the simulations whenever they need impromptu training.”
Training at Airbus soars to new heights When it came time to training their employees on an upgrade for a new SAP system, Airbus used this as an opportunity to improve the way they train. Previously, it took 50 trainers a period of six months to develop training and an additional two months to deliver the training for their SAP implementation.
With simulations, Airbus was able to accomplish the same for their SAP upgrade project in less than half the time with half the number of trainers and only working part-time on the project. This resulted in a dramatic reduction in time and cost for Airbus.
“Simulations have enabled Airbus to demonstrate to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) that we have in place the competencies and training and assessment processes to comply with their regulations, ” says Barbara Fernyhough, member of the Business Information Team at Airbus. “Simulations enable us to deliver quality ‘hands-on’ training at a fraction of the time and cost required for traditional classroom-based training. Perhaps most importantly, simulations ensure users remember more for longer than using traditional training methods alone.”
Simulations deliver hard returns at SA Mint The South African Mint Company was established in 1988 as a private company to manufacture South African and foreign currency coins.
Training during SA Mint’s first implementation of SAP consisted of a combination of presentations and hands-on demonstrations of the various transactions. Users were then tested through question and answer sessions held by members of the SAP implementation team.
SA Mint was well aware that their training methods were very labor intensive and tedious. The company evaluated other training methods and tools for streamlining and improving the quality of their training. The evaluation resulted in simulations being the clear winner in helping them achieve their training objectives most cost-effectively.
So, when SA Mint decided to upgrade to the latest release of SAP, the company saw an opportunity to use simulations to re-train all users on SAP on existing features, as well as on the new features, as a way of improving their return on SAP.
With simulations, SA Mint is now able to ensure that all users are proficient in the new version of SAP before they grant them access to the system, because the same simulations that are used to train their end-users are also used to test them and accurately evaluate their proficiency. In addition, SA Mint is using simulations to maintain a high level of end-user competency across their systems in the long-term, since the simulations are always available to users via their Intranet. Users can train whenever they want at their own pace and use the lessons created as a quick reference – especially for tasks that are done few and far between.
“Simulations have saved our IT and user department a lot of time and effort in training,” says Rosemary Wiesner, System Manager at SA Mint Company. “The overall benefit has been a reduction in the number of errors made by new users on the live system.”
Simulations by STT Trainer Airbus, Jo Ann Stores, SA Mint, Shell International and Intentia are among the 200 organizations worldwide that use Kaplan IT Learning’s STT Trainer software to train and support their end-users of business applications.
With STT Trainer, training managers, IT project managers and HR managers are able to ensure that end-users learn faster, retain knowledge longer and have access to customized moment of need help for a wide variety of business applications. The end result is a higher return on their IT investment, because training and support on the various applications is done more cost-effectively and applications are being used more proficiently by end-users.
Providing support using simulations In addition to normal documentation in Word and HTML format, STT Trainer generates realistic simulation lessons in three modes:
|1. Demo Mode||Show end-users how to perform a particular task in their business applications in the form of a movie clip, with accompanying instructions.|
|2. Training Mode||Interactive lessons with detailed explanations, instructions and step-by-step feedback.|
|3. Assessment Mode||Interactive assessment lessons used to consolidate and prove learning.|
Demo-mode simulations are ideal for self-service end-user support. Seeing the task being performed on your screen is much more effective than reading how to do it and then trying to figure it out on your own through trial and error. Furthermore, by making simulations and documents (automatically produced from the same authoring process) accessible as online help the content’s role is extended from the training phase to long-term performance support – to help maintain high levels of end-user proficiency, improve data accuracy and reduce the burden on your support desk.
ABOUT KAPLAN IT LEARNING Kaplan IT Learning provides certification preparation, assessment, learning services and software to help individuals and organizations train on technology and prepare for technology certifications. Kaplan IT Learning is a division of Kaplan, Inc., a leading education and test prep company, and a wholly owned subsidiary of The Washington Post Company (NYSE: WPO).
Kaplan employs more than 20,000 people worldwide, teaches 900,000 students yearly and offers more than 500,000 courses across various disciplines.
Customers include corporations, government and academic institutions, training companies, legal firms and individuals around the world. Leading products include Transcender, the largest and most comprehensive IT certification test preparation provider, Self Test Software, a leader of quality exam prep tools, Perfect Access Speer, the market leader in software education, consulting and learning tools for the legal industry, and award-winning STT Trainer software to train and support the end users of enterprise applications. For more information on Kaplan IT Learning, please visit www.KaplanITLearning.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chip Schuneman is President of Kaplan IT Learning, a division of Kaplan, Inc., one of the world’s leading diversified education providers. Schuneman leads the strategy, growth, and operations of the company and has overseen its expansion in the corporate information technology learning market, specifically, in the areas of content management and development and certification preparation.