Many people use the words “training” and “education” interchangeably. While in some cases this may be appropriate, the reality is there are nuanced differences. As defined by Wikipedia:
- Education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.
- Training is teaching or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies.
The differences become more pronounced in a work environment. Providing employee training gives them the basic skills for a specific competency, such as to use the corporate email system. However, if that employee needs to know how to craft a concise, effective email that will motivate a client to take action, it requires education. Put another way, training is for transactional skills. Education is for strategic capabilities.
Given the difference between the two, consider how your organization undertook the implementation of SAP, a core system that impacts and influences nearly every aspect of the business. In my experience, the introduction of technology is generally accompanied by training. Employees are taught how to execute transactions in the system. The training they are provided enables them to key data in and hit enter, in some cases several times to move past error messages. Does this sound familiar?
Why Is Education Important When It Comes to Technology?
Just as in the email example, if an employee is only taught transactional skills, they will not know how to use the technology in a strategic manner. Beyond the basic training, employees need to be given education so they understand how to use the technology effectively. This includes developing an understanding of:
- How the data they enter impacts others, both upstream and downstream of their role
- Why the timeliness of their data is critical
- What the system is capable of executing for them, to increase automation and reduce non-value-added tasks
This education of how the technology impacts the user and the organization must also include some business context. An understanding of supply chain principles, such as make to order vs. make to stock, inventory levels, lead time, and available to promise will provide employees the framework necessary to apply their education and improve collaboration with other departments/functional areas.
Why Does All of This Matter?
The answer to this goes beyond extracting the potential value of the organization’s investment in SAP. Today, more than ever before, the supply chain is under tremendous scrutiny. Lead times continue to shorten, customer expectations are higher than ever, and transportation costs are spiraling. To address the stresses on the supply chain, organizations are looking at technology solutions such as artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), real-time visibility, and blockchain. This veritable list of buzzwords relies upon starting with good data, which generally comes from the ERP. If employees have not received a true education beyond the initial system training provided when SAP went live, the data in the system is most likely sub-optimal, and quite possibly wrong. Layering in the new technologies only compounds the problem-- now bad data is more visible faster than ever before -- and the potential of passing this incorrect information to others can happen much more quickly. Far from the intended result.
For organizations to take advantage of the technological leaps available today and in the near future, they must first take stock of their existing systems. If SAP provides the backbone for the organization, and employees have only received transactional training, not only is the value of SAP going unrealized, but the ability to leverage additional technology is also impacted. Educating employees and improving operating processes are essential steps to creating an efficient and intelligent supply chain.
Education is just one of the many elements of Reveal’s oVo® program. These types of solutions help organizations realize tangible business results through the use of smart people, processes, and SAP. To learn more about our optimization processes, connect with Reveal.