SAP S/4HANA is coming - a careful analysis of the processes to be trained is indispensable.

SAP S/4HANA is coming – what does that mean for user training?

The HANA database technology from SAP long appeared to be a hot topic among tech experts. Sure, the software is getting faster. Data operations run, by and large, in the working memory, speeding up reports for management and paving the way for new business models for handling big data. Yet it seemed like “normal” end users – all the accountants, buyers, sellers, warehousing staff and transportation managers – and the transactions they deal with were barely affected. SAP HANA appeared to be something “under the hood” – something that had found its way into the business without really impacting on day-to-day operations.

Now, SAP is launching a brand-new software version for ERP with S/4HANA. This is no update. This is a new product that SAP is actively bringing onto the market. Indeed, this solution encompasses a whole host of innovations. A great deal has changed – and not just for the underlying technology. Parts of the interface, too, are entirely different as a result of the new Fiori apps. On top of this, there are hybrid solutions featuring novel cloud products. As training specialists and training managers, we are now faced with a challenge because, unlike in conventional rollout projects, the training requirements involved in S/4 projects are much more difficult to determine.

Some transactions are pretty much identical, while others have completely transformed. There are interfaces in the well-known GUI design and those with a web interface or in a simplified app format – which, to an ever-greater extent, are also available as mobile solutions. Unlike with an initial release, there are a great many experts and proficient users in the majority of companies. Many of them are willing and able to come to grips with the changed solution independently using their previously gained knowledge. Others, meanwhile, still need comprehensive support.

The corresponding requirements in terms of training are just as varied. Sometimes, handing out simple information material is sufficient. Other times, it’s advisable to make use of digital content for self-study, intelligent online tools or conventional training methods. But what should you choose, for whom, and to what extent?

Answering this question calls undeniably for a careful analysis. You have to get a general idea of the processes users need to be trained in.

Answering this question calls undeniably for a careful analysis. You have to get a general idea of the processes users need to be trained in. In most companies, these are laid down in key tools or graphical representations that might be outdated or are perhaps too detailed or too technical in places. Nonetheless, such process depictions still provide a solid basis for you to work with. You should seek assistance here, too. There are external training experts who can develop complete training process maps for you in a matter of days.

These process maps provide a starting point for figuring out your training requirements. Make sure to involve your IT experts and/or external consultants. Pinpoint the changes for the individual processes that will affect users in their respective working environments. Identify any specialist training requirements.

Based on this information, you can devise your methodological concept. I recommend approaches that are primarily geared toward digital training and support offerings. This is particularly advisable for more straightforward and/or limited training content. There is no need to organize training to explain a straightforward app or a slightly changed transaction to users. Straightforward simulations, well-structured digital user documentation and efficient performance support systems can satisfy most training needs. Make sure high-quality and costly classroom training sessions or media-based learning programs focus on the important things – conveying the project goals, discussing the key topics and shedding light on fundamentally new processes. Blended learning formats like this can reduce training costs considerably, keeping the number of days users need to be present and take part in training courses to an absolute minimum. In other words, staff are pulled out of work for less time. What’s more, digital training courses offer benefits that extend beyond the actual project itself and have a long-lasting impact.

Finally, the training offerings are allocated to specific roles and staff groups. It’s a case of deciding who learns what and with which method. A detailed training plan takes shape – your very own business-specific solution to meet the training requirements for rolling out SAP S/4HANA.