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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

SAP Education recently began offering new types of conferences in Germany, and the SAP Skills is one such event. I had the pleasure of presenting the keynote this year, where I focused how learning SAP skills happens successfully and how this might look like in the future. The 10/20/70 model is a very good framework to illustrate effective learning. In this post I will briefly explain this approach, and highlight how you can use it for learning SAP.


The 70/20/10 Model explained

The 70/20/10 Model is a learning and development model based on research by Morgan McCall, Michael M. Lombardo and Robert W. Eichinger from the Center for Creative Leadership in 1996. Lombardo and Eichinger published data from one study in their 1996 book “The Career Architect Development Planner.”  Their survey showed that lessons learned by successful and effective managers are roughly:

  • 70% from tough jobs
  • 20% from people (mostly the boss)
  • 10% from courses and reading

Over the last few years it was further developed, for example within the area of innovation management. Google aims to cultivate innovation by suggesting employees use their time in the following ratio: 70% of time should be dedicated to core business tasks; 20% of time should be dedicated to projects related to the core business; 10% of time should be dedicated to projects unrelated to the core business.


As a framework it can be used in different areas of learning and development. At SAP, the model has been used for many years internally in different ways, for example, to design learning programs. So it is part of the design to have on-the job learning and learning from other people. The model is also part of  key processes like annual development plans for employees. In the development activities section, employees can define those activities according these three


I adapted the model to SAP Education based on experience we had at SAP, and also inspired by the work of Nick van Damm, Chief Learning Officer at Deloitte. In the below graphic, you can see different examples of the methods and media which can be applied along the model.


10/20/70 applied to learning SAP: 10 – Formal learning

Formal learning in the classroom forms the very foundation of SAP Education, but opportunities have been expanded considerably in recent years. There are various e-learning formats available, like virtual classrooms, web based trainings, and entire bundles of e-learning content such as E-academies, as well as certification as a proof-point of expertise along an industry standard. There are many interactive workshops available to discuss and interact face-to face about real cases. These include topics which are not purely technical, like Design Thinking or agile project methods. Other new formal formats are e.g. skills conferences in Germany like Security Days or SAP Skills, where attendees can select from various tracks covering SAP Expert sessions on important areas like SAP HANA or operations-critical topics like SAP Solution Manager. Moocs like openSAP are another way of formal learning, however  in most cases blended with social  learning.

20% social and on-demand

In this section the lines blur.  Social learning via coaching and mentoring is very powerful, but it does not really scale. With social media like SAP Jam there are many different scenarios, like communities of practice, blending formal learning with social media or others. This is where learners can learn from each other, and where new roles come into play, like “gardeners” and “facilitators” fostering collaboration and discussions to keep the communities alive. Simulations like SAP’s ERP SIM Game are another form of social learning. A nice new way to combine social learning and mobile learning is the SAP
Learn Now app
which is basically e-learning for the iPad and Android, including discussion forums.

In the SAP Community Network customers and partners can also learn from each other and keep up to date with more than 2,5 million active participants. There are other social channels managed by SAP Education on well-known platforms like LinkedIn, Twitter , Facebook or SAP experts you can follow on Twitter. Some socail channels are even available by country, like the German-speaking SCN Community, so that more personalized updates in local languages are possible. Following, discussing and engaging with SAP experts on various social channels is a great source for continuous learning. For examples of other tools which you can check for further inspiration, see this this list put together by Jane Hard, an expert in social learning: Top Tools for learning.


To have learning integrated into the overall process of work and to have it available for on-demand learning is not a new thing.  However, new technologies now make it easier than ever to accomplish. You can learn when you need to do it, so you don't have the issue of forgetting or transferring knowledge to the job. Of course, this needs appropriate tools and content which make it possible, like SAP Workforce Performance Builder. Opportunities for on demand learning, also called electronic performance support (EPSS) go beyond knowledge work with use cases like context sensitive application help. For example, in mining and energy, substation machines have embedded barcodes, QR codes or RFID chips for service and operations reasons. They also can be used to provide documentation or simulations to support service technicians, or to get the qualification to authorize the machine usage. Information like 3-D simulations can be accessed via mobile devices or smart-glasses as EPSS already now. This follows the "internet of things" approach and is a key trend which will be interesting to watch.

70% on the job learning

If you remember learning to drive a car, your first SAP project, or other complex endeavors, you will agree that most of the learning came from really doing it and then reflecting on it. That is why it is important to always try new things or change jobs (function, geography or level) at certain times to further develop your skills and career. This can also be supported by HR like at SAP, where some employees receive challenging projects meant to stretch their skills or abilities, or they can do half-year fellowships which also serve as project-based job rotations.


The 10/20/70 approach is a general framework, of course, and it’s not meant to be interpreted as meaning that all learning needs to be performed in this exact distribution. It always depends on the complexity of the topic and the knowledge level of the learner. If you are new to a complex topic it can be much more effective to to do initially 70% formal learning and then switch to more social, on demand and on the job learning.

I hope this blog post was useful and informative. Please feel free to share your comments, experiences, thoughts with me right here in the community.