One of the biggest complaints of many enterprises in the market for performance improvement or company-wide learning products is that vendors often push technology before other more immediate concerns, such as, what will happen if my knowledge workers forget some key step and require assistance? Who will provide it, and if no one does, what does that do to learning capabilities and productivity levels within my organization? Every forward-thinking enterprise values productivity, which is one of the first things to suffer when technological systems are not end-user-friendly. Finding a compatible vendor, one who provides efficient, cost-effective, real-time learning and support without unnecessary bells and whistles, is essential if organizations are to maximize the return on investment for learning.
When organizations are implementing new enterprise-wide technologies, untrained users may end up needing three to six times as much support as end users who have been trained, according to Chris Pickett, director of learning technologies for PeopleSoft Global Services. In addition, calls to the help desk that are generated due to a lack of learning equate to hard dollars. “For normal organizations in North America, a level-one help-desk call is $125,” Pickett said. “That’s the hard cost when you’re talking about rolling out an ERP (enterprise resource planning) system and end users not being trained properly. Where do they go? They pick up the phone, or they bug the person next to them. That’s a gray area. It’s hard to quantify lost productivity because you’re helping a co-worker, but if they’re helping other people, they’re not doing their job.”
PeopleSoft is working to partner with its clients to maximize user productivity on new implementations of its technology. Its User Productivity Kit (UPK) allows for multi-language content development customizable for documentation, performance support, and classroom and Web-based learning. It is available for all PeopleSoft products, and includes development accelerators and decelerators, and project plan templates to speed technology adoption in the enterprise. Perhaps equally important, the single tool set was designed for use by subject-matter experts. Though all of the online content is dynamic HTML, meaning it can be linked wherever necessary, it does not require hard-core HTML or multimedia programming skills to create.
According to Pickett, the kit was designed to help implementation teams simplify transition and training. “Then we shift our attention to the end users of the actual product, and we provide training materials,” he said. “Because we recognize that no one size fits all from a training initiative perspective, we let the customer decide what the best solution for them is.” Once the technology is live, PeopleSoft follows up with performance support, regardless of how well the end user performed in the initial training. “If the employees back at the job run into an issue, they can click on a ‘help’ link in the PeopleSoft system, and based on the business transaction they are in and the role they perform in the organization, performance support helps them complete the business transaction they’re having problems with.”
Just as important as providing support to end users is ensuring that the strategy for a new product rollout is defined up front. PeopleSoft’s UPK Express provides additional support in conjunction with the User Productivity Kit. It provides a strategy and planning session to help clients define learning needs, establish performance metrics and identify best practices. Then, through a content and developer workshop, it aids rapid creation of original learning content. By allowing organizations to develop original content, PeopleSoft helps them ensure that learning is tailored to their specific audience of end users.
When an enterprise makes the decision to invest in learning products, there is often an implicit desire to cut the time and cost of generating effective learning modules and courses suitable for different delivery methodologies. “The User Productivity Kit is basically PeopleSoft’s insurance policy, if you will, that end users will be trained on the ERP system,” Pickett said. “The UPK Express is the insurance policy that says we’re going to help you and work with you to make sure that you maximize your investment in the User Productivity Kit, to maximize your investment in your end users, which in turn maximizes the investment in the ERP system.”
“We need to remind ourselves that untrained users simply don’t take advantage of the system for the intent that it was purchased,” Pickett said. “Organizations are challenged from the standpoint of getting their return on investment from an ERP system because their end users are not trained properly.”