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Training tool boosts CRM, ERP use

PeopleSoft is adding to its User Productivity Kit, but one analyst says the offering only solves part of the training problem.

PeopleSoft Inc. today added features to its User Productivity Kit (UPK) and touted adoption of the product, indicating that companies are looking for new ways to train end users on CRM and ERP applications.

PeopleSoft said the UPK can now be used to train users on 25 PeopleSoft Enterprise and EnterpriseOne applications. The EnterpriseOne product line features midmarket software added to PeopleSoft's portfolio when the company purchased J.D. Edwards & Co. last year.

Executives at the Pleasanton, Calif.-based company said that 70 new customers have licensed the UPK since its debut last December, affirming analyst reports that companies are getting subpar results from traditional CRM and ERP training programs and are looking for alternatives.

"What it provides is sort of an insurance policy for the customer because they're able to take the UPK and customize it to their own business applications and business processes," said Renee Knee, group vice president for PeopleSoft Worldwide Education Services. "When they have any amount of turnover in their employee base, the training they have invested in isn't singular to the employee who sat in the classroom."

I believe that [the UPK] is a very welcome step forward, but we haven't crossed the river yet.  
Michael Doane, Meta Group analyst,

The PeopleSoft User Productivity Kit is a training package for PeopleSoft users that includes learning content in seven languages and a developer tool to modify the learning material based on an organization's training needs.

It includes instructor-led training materials, Web-based education, performance support and documentation. PeopleSoft said this combination of materials allows companies to produce learning programs in several different formats.

"Customers can use the development tool to customize those end-user training materials with a single development session to match the customization that they have done to the [PeopleSoft] software," said Tom Cooper, director of education strategy for PeopleSoft Global Services.

MaryEm M. Musser, assistant director of technology and training initiatives with BDO Seidman LLP, an accounting and consulting firm in New York, said her company is using the UPK to update some old PeopleSoft human resources management systems training materials.

She said her company is also planning a migration to PeopleSoft's Enterprise Service Automation portal, and is using the UPK tool to develop test scripts and business process guides to aid the transition. Once the migration is complete, she said a portion of those scripts and guides will become training materials.

"Compared to other media I've used, I believe it's pretty intuitive," Musser said of the UPK. "When we got the product in-house, it was handed over to our lead developer and he installed it and actually built content in it in the same afternoon."

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Despite positive reviews from a growing list of customers, Michael Doane, senior vice president and director of professional services strategy with Stamford Conn.-based Meta Group, said the UPK falls short of being the Holy Grail of training systems.

Doane cited a study he completed last year that found 75% of companies feel their end users' ERP competency levels are either substandard or failing. He said these numbers point to an obvious need for enhanced training solutions like the UPK. But, he added, that alone won't be enough to solve the problem of end-user competency.

"I believe that [the UPK] is a very welcome step forward, but we haven't crossed the river yet," Doane said. "What it's going to take to cross the river is training and education for end users that is far more based upon their role within a business process."

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