Soapbox: SAP Training Trends
By Chelsea Perino, Marketing Manager,and Thomas Michael, CEO, Michael Management Corporation
The last decade has seen exponential growth in the online training space. People are relying on the Internet more and more—as a place to research products, gather and share information, stay in contact with others, and stay up to date on the most recent trends—and this presence and activity in the digital space only continues to increase as technology progresses.
Additionally, as the business economy becomes increasingly competitive, organizations and working professionals alike are placing more importance on professional training. The question is, how does this growth in online activity, combined with the increasing value associated with professional learning, play out in the training space?
While in the past, traditional classroom training was the most popular way for organizations to provide their employees with training, as well as a way for individuals to increase their knowledge base and competitive advantage in the professional marketplace, online training continues to gain popularity.
The Michael Management Corporation (MMC), a provider of SAP e-learning solutions, recognized the trend toward online training solutions early on, and since 2000 has worked to develop specialized online SAP training courses (SAP is a leader in enterprise application software). With an online course catalog that now includes more than 850 interactive hands-on simulations, MMC has delivered 20,000-plus online training sessions to more than 6,000 students in the last three years alone.
During the development process, MMC noticed a change in attitude with regard to online training, as well as a change in the SAP environment in general. Some 80 percent of the world’s Fortune 1000 companies now use SAP software, and the SAP community network has more than 2.5 million members. Now more than ever, trained SAP professionals are considered highly valued assets, earn competitive salaries, and have a competitive advantage in the job marketplace.
For the last two years, MMC has surveyed SAP professionals in order to gain insights into the perceptions and realities about the SAP training space. MMC’s most recent 2013 SAP training survey includes responses from 1,172 SAP professionals and provides interesting details of SAP-related issues such as training availability, delivery options, and other training challenges. The results from this survey create a comprehensive snapshot of the current SAP training market and provide insight into the perceptions SAP users have about available SAP training programs, as well as their expectations and needs for future developments.
What were some of the key insights from the 2013 training survey, and what are the larger implications for online training in general?
Survey respondents believe that the biggest SAP training need is on the end-user side (48 percent), closely followed by configuration training (35 percent), which typically is used by implementation project team members, IT analysts, and consultants. Executive overview training takes a distant third place with 11 percent.
Interestingly, while the value placed on end-user training is increasing, it seems that there is a disconnect between awareness and action. While almost half of the professionals surveyed in both 2012 and 2013 said end-user training was most important, more than 61 percent of respondents in 2013 indicated that they received little or no SAP training in the last 12 months. In addition, 46 percent of these professionals reported they have not received sufficient training to perform their job responsibilities. Perhaps the most alarming part is that in the 2012 survey, this percentage was 40 percent.
This finding is consistent with IDC Research, according to Cushing Anderson, program vice president for IDC’s Project-Based Services research. “IDC research has found that training of both project staff and end-users is the single most important factor in upgrade or deployment projects meeting the business objectives of the project. Unfortunately, more than 45 percent of enterprise system users, administrators, or consultants feel they have been inadequately trained to perform their responsibilities,” he notes. “This is consistent with findings from last year, and it is little wonder that enterprise system implementations and upgrades so often result in unmet expectations, under-used capabilities, and disappointed stakeholders.”
In part, insufficient SAP training appears to stem from respondents not having enough time for training (24 percent) and a lack of training budget (23 percent). Interestingly, these numbers were reversed in last year’s survey—it seems that training budgets have increased slightly, yet learners’ schedules have not been able to accommodate additional training sessions. The other noteworthy item here is that 19 percent of respondents indicated that there is no ongoing training available after the go-live.
On the delivery front, not surprisingly, online SAP training now is the most common type of training with a combined total of 37 percent (self-study e-learning comprising 27 percent and instructor-led, virtual training comprising 10 percent). Traditional instructor-led classroom training continues on a downward trend with 28 percent (in last year’s survey, this number was 29.4 percent), which supports the idea that as more people gravitate toward the online space for information gathering, they also are using digital media to further their professional training.
In terms of preference for SAP training, more than 60 percent of respondents said they prefer online SAP training to all other forms of SAP training. This holds true for those taking SAP training to further their professional development. Some 23 percent of respondents indicated that they plan to use e-learning courses this year to maintain or upgrade their SAP skill set. E-learning outshined all other training options, including traditional classroom training (12 percent).
According to the survey, many users believe SAP training can give them a competitive advantage in the business marketplace. Some 32 percent of respondents indicated that being certified would give them the upper hand in a new job search over non-certified applicants. In addition, 23 percent think a certification will help with their next salary negotiation, while 22 percent count on certification to help with their next promotion.
Respondents might want to convey the importance of SAP certification to their managers: While 64 percent of respondents indicated that being certified in SAP is important to them, only 41 percent of their managers agreed.
To download Michael Management Corporation’s complete 2013 SAP training report, visit:
Thomas Michaelis CEO of the Michael Management Corporation. He has been involved in SAP consulting and development since 1993. He is a regular speaker at national SAP conferences and other events and has authored several books.
Chelsea Perino is Marketing manager at Michael Management Corporation. She holds an MA in Public and Organizational Relations and specializes in digital communication strategies.