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voestalpine - rapid implementation of a corporate-wide learning platform

The globally active voestalpine Group is a technology and industrial goods corporation in the steel sector. The Group consists of around 500 subsidiaries and company locations distributed across 50 countries in five continents and employing around 47,500 people. In its financial year 2014-15 total revenues stood at € 11.2 billion and the EBIT margin at 7.9 percent.

The challenge: to set up a single e-learning structure

A corporation with such far-reaching ramifications was to get a homogenous e-learning structure. All activities must derive from a corporate-wide e-learning strategy. At the same time, the implementation was required to take place rapidly and reliably. SAP HCM plus, with an interface to SAP LSO, was already used as the learning environment. The expectations set for the new learning platform included the following:

  • The ability to track training activities
  • Internal processing of e-learning courses is the norm (as opposed to external hosting)
  • Demonstrable efficiency increases in the implementation of training 
  • The ability to view learning history
  • The ability to combine formal and informal learning

Expectations of the performance support system, which was also to be set up and should relieve the IT helpdesk’s workload, included:

  • The ability to create IT applications documentation and software simulations
  • Ad hoc support of the user should function purposefully and without problems

The solution: SAP SuccessFactors LMS and tt performance suite fulfil the requirements

The various divisions within the company were called upon to submit their requirements. As far as the learning management system was concerned, everybody was unanimous about continuing to pursue an SAP solution, and chose SAP SuccessFactors LMS. For performance support, the requirements were put together by the Business Solution Team, which was assembled from representatives of all divisions, countries and companies. An evaluation commission drew up a shortlist. The details and prices were then negotiated with the two best vendors. voestalpine AG’s IT Management Board subsequently made its decision in favor of tt performance suite.

The implementation: software implementation as an open-heart operation

“We invest in training and further education consistently so that we can demand the best from everyone,” explained Dr. Robert Schweiger, Manager of the overall “learnIT” project, and Funda Federspiel, the specialist project manager of “learnIT”. “The success of our company reflects this. It is the success of our employees – who can enjoy multi-faceted further education.”
Once the respective systems had been selected, they had to be implemented as rapidly as possible. “The implementation of tt performance suite was like an open-heart operation,” Funda Federspiel reported. The timetable illustrates this particularly well:

  • January 2015: Project kick-off
  • February 2015: Server installation
  • March 2015: Roll-out over every imaginable channel (Guides for Office 2010 in six languages)
  • April 2015: Four pilot projects
  • May 2015: Change communication
  • June 2015: Technology go-live and start of content Production
Dr. Robert Schweiger, IT Management, Voestalpine Division Metal Engineering

The implementation of the SAP SuccessFactors learning platform was completed within eight weeks (from kick-off to technology go-live). I am told that this is a technological sensation. It’s never happened before.

 

Mag. Funda Federspiel, Education & Consultancy, Voestalpine Personal Services

The implementation of the SAP SuccessFactors learning platform was completed within eight weeks (from kick-off to technology go-live). “I am told that this is a technological sensation. It’s never happened before,” Funda Federspiel rejoiced. “But of course we have not yet implemented everything in detail, for example as far as access rights and charging interfaces are concerned. We will still have some further work before us.” The timetable for the LMS integration looked like this:

  • February 2015: Kick-off, basic configuration, final specification
  • March 2015: Testing, migration, training
  • April 2015: Technology go-live
  • June 2015: Planning, roadmap

Lessons learned:
an experienced partner thinks with voestalpine

The two spokespeople also described the things that did not go as smoothly as expected during the implementation. The following points related to the learning management system:

  • The introduction of a central IT system in a heterogeneous organization requires much technical coordination and is “really demanding”
  • The works council plays an important role and needs to be consulted at an early stage
  • The legal framework (for example regarding the data protection commission) is at times highly complex
  • The needs and the (learning) culture within different sections of the organization can be very different (for example, on the question of how much independence is given to individual learners)
  • In handling a shared service it is necessary to clarify roles with regard to strategic decisions
  • The scope of licensing also needs to be reviewed precisely in advance for scalable solutions

The following learning effects were observed with regard to the performance support system (tt performance suite):

  • When speaking about the IT system and its content, various languages used in the corporation had to be taken into account
  • The advantages of performance support must be demonstrated and explained repeatedly. The project management team also has an “evangelist” function
  • Content must be available for all users in a timely manner
  • Application ownership is to be located high up the hierarchy
  • Performance support must be supported by the whole company.
Mag. Funda Federspiel, Education & Consultancy, Voestalpine Personal Services

The introduction of a central IT system in a heterogeneous organization requires much technical coordination and is really demanding.

 

Dr. Robert Schweiger, IT Management, Voestalpine Division Metal Engineering

In general, sufficient (internal) resources should be made available for each implementation. The support of an external partner was especially important for voestalpine. Under its direction timely consideration was given to how formal and informal learning can be combined and which part of these should be stored on the LMS or designated under performance support.