The End User Training Arms Race

What conclusion should we reach from SAP answering Oracle’s investment in training technology? That the big ERP players care about the successful use of their products? While that spin may work for technology and financial analysts, the role of end user training in successful ERP implementation and ongoing production use deserves a deeper look.

that significance is tempered by the sorry state of training content and the unfortunately legitimate attitude of many a CIO that spending big on training is wasted.

Given the state of end user training offered to ERP users just about anything can be viewed as an improvement. The specific problems as training is delivered today include:

most training content doesn’t match implementation reality, training only happens at the initial time of implementation, and training is usually dumped into user’s heads during mind-numbing day-long classes, which means that it is forgotten the moment the class is over. Not to mention the fact that few companies refresh their end-user training during the enterprise software lifecycle, nor do they bother to train new hires.

Thus ERP customers appear justified in concluding that end user training as delivered is not worth the cost.

So are the Oracle and SAP investments in training technology about increasing the value of end user training?

with the similar goal of driving advances in training into its customer base, and thereby building a solid training revenue base. Those goals have largely been dashed in the ensuing three years, not because UPK isn’t a good product — it most fundamentally is, and enjoys a significant penetration in the SAP customer base as well as the Oracle customer base. The problem is that the value of training has never been elevated to meet the technological advances

Not that anyone can tell. More likely these investments are a continuation of the technology acquisition arms race aimed at increasing revenues streams and mollifying technology and financial analysts. They are a continuation of the big footprint / me-too strategy followed by too many technology firms. Acquire more functions than your competitor, acquire more services teams than your competitor, acquire more BI than your competitor, and now acquire more training technology than your competitor. This is a strategy that focuses on analyst and stock market perceptions exclusive of value delivered to customers.

This leaves open the key question: is anybody actually improving the value delivered in training? HarrisData is doing just that.

For example one major component of implementation costs is end user training. End user training is provided as a last step before going live. For customers with multiple locations to be trained, end user training may be repeated at each location. Post implementation, end user training is repeated as employee turnover impacts the user base. Additional end user training is required for specific topics tied to infrequent activities (e.g. year end payroll processing). Over the life of an information system end user training is a big need. How then can the cost be brought under control? HarrisData is developing a library of end user training chapters to be provided on demand to our customers. The library will include suggested (or custom) syllabus complete with course tracking by individual user. Subscriptions to the library will allow customers to ensure that their users are trained as needed for predictable (and affordable) cost.

A strategy focused on partnership with the customers to the exclusion of analysts increases value to customers.

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