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SAP Training Podcast #2: Tom Michael on Online SAP Training Options Print E-mail
podcastlogo_jonerp.gif"Overview of SAP Online Training Options and How to Best Utilize SAP Training for SAP Skills Growth."
Podcast Interview Date: October 24, 2008
Podcast: Listen Now!

In the second podcast in the "All About SAP Training" series, Jon Reed asks Tom Michael of Michael Management about the state of SAP training and the range of training and certification options available to SAP professionals.

Picking up where the last podcast on SAP training left off, Jon and Tom jump right into the topic of SAP online training:

- Tom goes back to the beginning: 2-3 years ago, Tom began to get more and more requests for online SAP training. In the past, there were very few options, and while sending folks to the SAP Academy can be very effective, it's not always an affordable option when you are continuously tweaking people's job roles. Meanwhile, the project documentation is useful to a degree but is not really the perfect training tool ("you can't learn SAP from a few screen prints and a PowerPoint presentation.")

- So, Tom and the team and Michael Management started designing online SAP training that was affordable, self-directed, and effective in terms of equipping users with the know-how they need. 

- The same SAP training need that exists on the SAP customer side exists for the SAP individual as well. SAP online training works, and you can use it to pick up basic SAP knowledge in the areas you need. But the training courses much be true training courses, interactive simulated SAP sessions - as if you were logged into a real SAP system. As you train, you learn why you are doing what you are doing, clicking on buttons, filling in fields - hands-on SAP experience. That's why online SAP training has taken off so much. 

- Jon asks Tom about how they have structured their training around the progression of knowledge within particular functional areas. Michael Management has created a curriculum path, from teaching the basics of SAP, such as basic reporting and GUI instruction, to functional areas such as accounting (FI/CO). There are basic and intermediate level classes in many areas. You can do the progression at your own pace. Next up: configuration courses, some of which are already available, which will complete the curriculum path, from basic training to "super-user" to hands-on configuration.

- The issue of version currency is discussed. Many online SAP training courses are still on 4.6 applications. However, the SAP world is moving into ERP 6.0. Tom talks about the importance of clearly noting which training courses address which SAP releases. Tom points out there are still some SAP 3.0 training courses available online, which are basically useless now. Lesson: get your training on ECC 6.0 whenever possible.

- The best examples of successful SAP training are from actual consultants and how they applied the training. Jon and Tom talk about some personal stories they have heard about how online training has provided a "foot in the door" for aspiring SAP professionals. On the SAP customer side, Michael Management was working for a large consumer goods company that asked them to create their own version of their training specifically for a particular customer, based on their own screens and systems. This is proof that this kind of training works.

The discussion then shifts towards the practical aspects of SAP job seeking: how does online training help you in the job search itself? Online training is one of several pieces of the educational puzzle, but there are always tradeoffs when considering any form of SAP training. Advanced SAP functionality, for example, is highly dependent on a particular company's business processes and functionality (that's why Michael Management doesn't offer the advanced SAP training that is often industry and company-specific. The focus is on beginning and intermediate level SAP training.) But, the best SAP training can't substitute for hands-on SAP experience.

Jon and Michael then move into a discussion of SAP system rental and how Michael Management's SAP system access fits into the SAP training and self-education process.  

All SAP training options, from online to in-person, have their place. The key for the SAP individual is to set your expectations to the right level and realize that online training isn't likely to get you that first SAP job. The best approach for folks new to SAP is to focus more on the skills you do bring to the table, and focus less on asking companies to give you that first SAP gig. Jon explains how the SAP training you take becomes more valuable once you are in the fray and working on an SAP project, even on the basic user level. At that point, you work your way into opportunities from the inside, and SAP training can help you to seize those opportunities as they emerge on project sites.

Since most of the podcast focused on the positives on online training, Tom takes a few minutes at the end to review the downsides to online training: lack of in-person instructor interaction, and the need for self-discipline to fit the online training into your schedule.  

Jon talks about how the options for SAP self-education have changed dramatically for the better in the last ten years, with more interactive materials as well as system access. You're not looking at the race car from behind the fence or seeing a picture in a book anymore - you're out there driving the car, getting your feet wet with SAP materials. The opportunities for a small cost to get excellent SAP training materials are greater today than they ever have been before.

Jon wraps the second podcast with another invitation for users to provide comments. If we get feedback below in the comments section, we'll create more topics along the lines of SAP training and certification and "career best practices." 


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