Chat with Friends: Remote learning with Neil Opperman

Posted on June 2021 By Chris Oughton
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Working remotely is a way of life for us now – but we should all congratulate ourselves on how have adapted and simply made things work, especially given how border closures continue to disrupt business across Australia.

A few months ago we told the stories of two of our consultants who began new roles during Melbourne’s tough 2020 lockdown.

Today, we are exploring remote learning across SAP projects by speaking with Neil Opperman, one of our SAP training consultants. Neil explains his experience in moving to a remote learning/training model, historically a face-to-face role requiring plenty of travel to different sites.

Tell us about your SAP training experience and how often you needed to conduct classroom-based or one-on-one remote sessions prior to the pandemic.

I have been both an end-user and a trainer in SAP from R/3 through ECC, then coached and trained the many iterations of Fiori across many modules and many industries in the past 20 years. By far most of this training was face-to-face classroom-based, some individually. There has always been a small but sizeable portion – around 5 per cent – that was remote, either one-on-one or in small groups, via phone or VOIP or Lync/Teams.

Through Speller International, you recently delivered training for our client Santos. COVID meant you needed to deliver that training online. What was the most challenging aspect of delivering the material on Skype for Business?

Putting aside the usual challenges such as good data and accurate master data, the ability to build rapport and see nuances around uptake or comprehension of the message was difficult, as was knowing when to emphasise or repeat activities or information, particularly with larger groups of trainees.

And what about the advantages of delivering the training online?

It certainly reduced the need to travel, to commute or relocate to the project office, and invariably improved documentation - if your role is to deliver cf. developing documents.   

Do you think this way of delivering training has a place in the future regardless of the pandemic?

Absolutely, as long as there is good documentation, small groups, and the ability to cater for project BA/SME for ‘left-field’ questions or change challenges.


What did you learn from the online delivery experience and is there anything you would do differently in hindsight?

As indicated above, it would be of extra value to the business to have the BA/SME on the call, or alternatively super-users or leaders in sessions, particularly where changes to current state processes are significant, including greenfield transformations. 


How can an organisation ensure its employees are ready to learn remotely?

I recommend ensuring that any e-learning opportunities are utilised, data and documentation are road-tested (on superusers or TTTs), and leaders are across change management issues that may arise.


What advice would you give to other SAP trainers when approaching their first online training?
As per classroom settings, be prepared, listen carefully to responses (or none), taking your cues on speed of delivery, and repeatedly ask for verbal or written feedback.


We are keen to hear from other consultants about their experience in working remotely and any advice you can give. If you would like to hear more from the SAP community, the Speller Team or SAP news in general, please follow us on LinkedIn.