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PeopleSoft's new tools get training on track

PeopleSoft is hoping new User Productivity Kits will help solve one of the biggest problems hindering software installations: end-user training.

PeopleSoft Inc. hopes to address one of the problems that has long plagued enterprise-wide software implementations with the announcement of its new User Productivity Kits for end-user training.

The new tools, which will be available in December, will be broken down by product line the same way as software modules that customers buy.

The kits include training for standardized business processes "out of the box," plus a customization tool, according to Chris Pickett, director of learning technology for the Pleasanton, Calif., company. The tools enable customers to produce and deploy content from one authoring session in multiple formats. For example, while an individual is executing a transaction within a business process, the tool simultaneously records each action. Users can then publish the content in Web-based training tools or help screens. The OnDemand Personal Navigator, is the development and delivery platform for the kit. PeopleSoft is partnering with the Knowledge Products division of Global Knowledge, of King of Prussia, Pa. to provide it.

"There aren't too many other vendors that play in this space of ERP training," said Carrie Picardi, a senior research analyst for the Stamford, Conn.-based Meta Group. "I believe [the tools] will be positive for both sides. It will certainly increase exposure and visibility to Knowledge Products, and it will help PeopleSoft ... bring end users up to speed faster."

The kits offer both live and Web-based training materials. According to recent research, it takes roughly 40 hours for organizations to develop one hour of live training materials on their own and 200 hours to develop Web-based materials.

Additionally, the kits provide ongoing support. For example, a recent employee who has been through training but may have forgotten a certain task can click on the help icon, which steers him back to the training material, Pickett said.

While some may suggest that the offer of a user training kit undercuts PeopleSoft's claims of software usability, Pickett points out that business processes -- and not necessarily the applications -- are the "stumbling blocks" for most organizations. PeopleSoft is now supporting those processes out of the box, he said.

"Every organization has rules that are specific to that organization," Pickett said. "What more and more companies are doing is going as vanilla as possible with processes. We offer the best of both worlds: content that is vanilla out of the box and a customization tool that can upgrade."

The kits are shipped with maintenance enabling future application upgrades, Pickett added. The kits support English, French, German, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Italian and Swedish.

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