CLOs and their compatriots are always on the hunt for new ways to provide learning, but sometimes it’s not new technology that paves the way for success. Productive learning initiatives also can be made by blending two learning delivery methods in a new way. Such was the case with Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. When the company rolled out its SAP training organization-wide, it tapped Kaplan IT for its STT Trainer simulation product and then augmented the learning with Flash and other add-ons to enhance user receptivity and retention.
With more than 25,000 employees to consider in more than 800 stores, the learning to accompany the SAP system upgrade had to be carefully orchestrated in order to avoid problems. “With the SAP project, we had several challenges,” said Stacey Harris, former organizational effectiveness manager, Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. “We have a very diverse workforce that runs the gamut from employees who have worked for our organization for over 30 years to employees who come straight out of college and have only been here for six months. We have a huge challenge there, making sure that our training is applicable at all levels for the different team members that we have in our organization.”
Jo-Ann originally rolled out SAP five years ago and provided learning using a one-time classroom delivery method and accompanying employee desk binder. Harris said this strategy almost brought the organization to its knees because product information was slow getting to stores during the holiday season. “We knew that when we did our upgrade, we could not afford to make that same mistake again,” Harris said. “The organization realized that it had to invest in a learning system versus just a program or an event, so we designed just that — a learning system. It will live and breathe as the system upgrades. The learning system moves with it and includes simulation environments, documentation, Web-based training and classroom pieces for change management.”
Jo-Ann developed two training formats, one to get ready for the SAP upgrade before the go-live date and a second for employees once they were back at their desktops. An instructor-led SAP kick-off with a change management session began the process and included training on how to access the training materials and simulations and got everyone comfortable using the new technology. Linear Web-based training courses followed, a kind of expanded page turner, but one embedded into the simulations. Essentially, Jo-Ann married STT with Flash and programming that allowed the company to include why it was important for employees to understand the changes taking place with SAP programs.
Harris said combining online, simulated and traditional classroom learning delivery methods also helped alleviate problems editing simulation content. Depending on where an employee falls in the organization, there were 40 to 50 training simulations to choose from, all of which ran before the SAP upgrade go-live date. “You went back to your desk, completed your Web-based training, and then over the next three weeks prior to the go-live date, you had to complete these simulations, which allowed them to walk through, step-by-step, these new transactions, become comfortable, see what kind of mistakes they could make, and have a true understanding of when they click this button, this is going to happen, before they got into the live system. This was wonderful because our live system was still being tweaked. We were able to train all the way up to the date to go live.
“We had a seamless upgrade,” Harris said. “There were no major glitches as far as learning. Our call-center calls only spiked about 10 to 15 percent, and expectations had been about 20 to 50 percent. We were very concerned about it, so there was definitely a huge benefit there. A lot of that was due to the process that we put in place for after the initial training. We embedded the simulations and the documentation that we created into the SAP system, so when you’re on a specific transaction in SAP, if you get to a button and can’t remember whether they’re supposed to go left or right with that button you can pull up our customized Jo-Ann help button and get a scripted transaction on SAP, a little help thing on screen that says, “Push button one, push button two, here’s the business reason behind why you’re pushing that, and here’s the things it will affect.’”
– Kellye Whitney, email@example.com
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