Today, I'll share my favorite training development tool: Oracle's User Productivity Kit (UPK).
About seven years ago, I was on an SAP implementation. The client was using a training development tool created especially for SAP, but decided to invite a company called Global Knowledge to demonstrate their training development software, OnDemand. By the end of the demonstration, everyone in the room was drooling over the functionality this software provided, and the potential it had to improve training development.
After I left that project, I went to other clients where we used a number of the standard training development tools: Camtasia, Captivate, and SnagIt, to name a few. Although they all have their uses, I still longed to get my hands on that OnDemand software.
So imagine my joy when three years ago I joined an Oracle implementation and discovered that Oracle had purchased Global Knowledge Software LLC and was now using the OnDemand software as their standard training development tool. They had re-branded it, "User Productivity Kit" (UPK), but it was still the software I had dreamed about all those years.
I dove right in and learned everything I could about UPK, then proceeded to develop and teach courses on it, so that others could enjoy using it, too. Before I embarrass myself with extreme amounts of gushing, though, let's look at:
5 Practical Benefits of UPK
- More than a Training Tool - You'll notice that User Productivity Kit does not have the word "training" anywhere in the title. That's because this is more than just a training development tool. It is actually designed to be used throughout the project lifecycle. Teams that are truly dedicated to getting the most out of UPK can begin using it early in the project to create process documentation and test scripts. Not only does this help enforce consistency in documentation throughout the project, it also directly feeds in to training development efforts, reducing the amount of time required for the training development lifecycle.
- One Input, Many Outputs - Training developers often dedicate a lot of time to reformatting the same information into different training tools. For a single process, they may need to create a training manual, job aid, demonstration, and hands-on activity. With UPK, you record the process once, then in one step publish the information in all of these formats, plus more. It is a huge time saver.
- Collaboration - UPK comes in two different versions. The stand alone version sits on your computer, and no one can access the information other than the person working on that computer. It also comes in a version that sits on a server, however, and this is a huge win for any project with multiple developers and/or a proper review process. By putting UPK on a server, anyone with access can view and edit any of the training. This removes the need to print or e-mail copies for review. UPK also lets you assign people to each training topic and change the status of topics, which allows the project to see who is currently responsible for the topic and how close it is to being complete. Anyone who has ever undertaken the complex task of running training development and review understands the benefit of having this level of collaboration.
- Integration - If you use UPK with an Oracle product, it has an outstanding level of integration. As you record your actions, it not only captures the steps you're taking, but it also fills in information. Click on a button, and it will A) enter the name of the button directly into the training, so that the developer doesn't have to type it in later, and B) automatically insert any alternate ways of completing the action. For example, if I use UPK to record pasting data into a field using the Paste button, UPK will not only enter the phrase, "Click the Paste button.", it will also have an alternative action that states, "Type CTRL-V." UPK is also able to do this for some non-Oracle products. They don't advertise it, but UPK works pretty well with other applications, such as the Microsoft suite of products. The integration isn't as good as it is with Oracle products, but if you already own UPK, it doesn't become obsolete when your Oracle project is complete.
- Ease of Use - I taught myself how to use UPK. If you're not always on speaking terms with your computer, you may want to invest in a training course. At the end of the day, though, UPK is an easy tool to use.
Have you used UPK? What are the pros and cons of working with it?