Hoarders: The SAP Training Catalog Edition

by Gail Edington, Senior LMS Solutions Consultant

You have seen the images: piles and bags, duplicate appliances, a vast assortment of containers and container types…and the skeletons of past pets.

An aging training catalog can have all of those; no, not literal piles, but duplicate course types, content -gone-bad and skeletons. While a messy training catalog won't leave you in danger of vermin and reality television, it will affect your learners. Think of these learners (course type names have been changed to protect the guilty):


  • A learner searching for a Microsoft Excel course after a company Windows upgrade and finds the course result:
    • Course Title: Introduction to MS Excel
    • Description: Learn what is new in Excel '97!
  • A learner searching for language classes and finding one called Italian for Commercial Business. Seeing no class dates offered, the learner prebooks the course, not realizing or reading that the course hasn't been offered in a year, and there are no plans to offer it in the near future.
  • The learner searches for a Business Strategies class and finds two course types with the same name.


There are more True Stories, but that is on another channel.



The first step in any process is identifying potential issues. The types of issues to identify:


  • Classroom course types (physical or virtual) with no future scheduled dates
  • Web-based courses with low or no enrollment. 
  • Empty course groups
  • Orphan courses and course types from delimiting errors
  • Courses that have not been followed-up: classroom and web-based


A good start is the simplest and lowest tech, but does require good eyes: a review of the Dynamic Participation menu. Set the start date at tomorrow and visually check for empty course groups, course types with no current courses, courses with little or no enrollment, etc.

From a reporting perspective, you will need a list of all course types with an end-date of 12/31/9999. Most standard delivered learning reports (of a list variety) are based on courses rather than course types, but there are some tools available besides a data dump using SE16. This can be done using a variety of reports including the Existing Objects report (transaction S_AHR_61016527) or a query tool. The Infotype Reporting program (transaction S_AHR_61016532) works well for finding records without a certain Infotype or relationship; it is not an elegant report, but it is useful during audit processes.

As you will want to review by delivery method and possibly some other infotype data, you may want to custom build an audit query/report that lists the details you would like to review. While custom development must always be cautious, the labor costs involved in good development will save IT and HRIS from providing training staff with multiple SE16 HRP1000, HR1001, HRP1003, HRP5007 listings.

From this basic list of courses you can use MS Excel and its VLookup and Pivot table functions to better identify courses with enrollment or future course date issues. If using ad hoc query, you could use set operations to do a query of all course types with end date of 12/31/9999 and then a second set of all with a future B020 (course). Then using VLookup, you can find the Course Types with no future scheduled courses.

The main list of course types can also be used to identify courses of similar names (then check their descriptions to verify overlap).

To identify follow-up issues, the Participant list (transaction LSO_RHXTEILN) works well, although you will want to run it in sections. For classroom course types, set the date filter to a period to "past" and then filter results for Follow-up = not checked. For Web-based courses, run the report for the future and again filter the results for Follow-up = not checked. From the resulting list look at the last access date to identify cases where learners may have abandoned the course.


The Cleanup

There are several methods to "clean up" courses and "course types." Governance should dictate how courses, course types and participation is delimited, canceled or deleted. Your tools:


  • Dynamic Menus: You can use the Dynamic Menus to cancel courses and participation, and, of course, follow-up courses or revoke access authorization. Use these catalogs to look for orphaned courses (E and ET) by selecting the overview (not the root course group); you will see the orphans in the Unassigned course types' area.
  • Master Data Catalog can be used for some activities but, be aware of all dates. If you cancel a course that was scheduled for May 2nd, but delimit the course type as of April 30th, you have created an orphan of the May 2nd class E object.
  • The Tool Menu can also be employed, but carefully. The staffer using the Tool menu should have solid knowledge of evaluation paths, and the use of the Delete Data from Personnel Planning Database tool (program RHRHDL00), including running the program in test and test evaluating results. Again, there are True (Horror!) Stories where this was not the case.



Preventative Measures

Governance: Include in your governance document the activities and responsibilities of all the roles involved in training. For example, assign single person ownership for every course type; governance should state what responsibilities this owner has, including communication strategies if necessary for delimiting course groups or types. These owners should be identified in the course relationships for reporting and contact purposes.

Process: When new course types are created, the creator should always consider the course from a learner perspective. Before creating the course name, search the catalog by key search terms that might be used for your class. Look for any possible duplication of content or names. Once the course type is created, go to the learning portal, search for the course type in the catalog; search again using search terms. Review the detail page.

Life-cycle Management: Define the course type life cycle from birth to death--begda to endda. Every company has courses that roll out with a big bang. But these classes don't always maintain their pet status, and, sometimes, learners searching the catalogs find the skeletons of these past pet classes. At best, this could cause the learner some annoyance. At worst, you could have a web-based course with invalid content being offered to your learners.

Identification: When you have course owners who state the equivalent of "I can't live without that polka dot skirt from High School" about one of their course types, propose the following- Mark the course "No intranet" and re-evaluate in 6 months OR in the course description or notes--in visible text--indicate the course is not scheduled in the near future but may be based on prebooking demand. And then monitor the prebooking report (transaction LSO_RHXVORM0)!

Schedule: Regular Checks: Your training staff should be regularly reminded to perform housekeeping activities. Rather than a big house purge, this is more like checking refrigerator contents before garbage day. Are courses followed up? Are there any e-bookings that have not been confirmed where the last course access was months ago? Annually, you should schedule time for a full audit and review, including ownership of courses. If you are regularly performing cleanup activities, this will be a less cumbersome activity than one that involves junk removal services and court-ordered therapists.


The Reveal

The truth is that few people will notice the work you've done and are doing. That's true of a lot of good work. Clean restaurants don't make the news when a health inspector finds nothing wrong. The FDA and OSHA do not issue press releases on companies with no fines. Reality TV won't come knocking. But learners will search a real catalog, prebook to real course types, and your user experience will be free of clutter and skeletons.