Saba Software: Heavy Lifting

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2004-06-08 Email Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saba Enterprise Learning Suite includes class and resource scheduling, skills tracking, collaboration features, and tools for content authoring and publishing.

Saba Enterprise Learning Suite includes class and resource scheduling, skills tracking, collaboration features, and tools for content authoring and publishing. Saba Enterprise Performance Suite lets managers and employees set and evaluate development goals.

Saba Software could teach a stadium full of people a thing or two: It receives the strongest acclaim for its system's ability to handle tens of thousands of users. But like any other enterprise software, customers say, there's a fair amount of complexity in deploying and using it.

"Saba is very comprehensive. It's not for the timid," says Art DiMartile, senior information-technology manager in Procter & Gamble's human-capital management systems group. "If all you want to do is classroom training, there's a lot of extra stuff you don't need."

P&G picked Saba in 1999, because "there were few learning-management systems that were scalable to 100,000 users" and because the software provided a more complete set of features than competing products, DiMartile says. Since then, his group has customized the system to provide features Saba lacked, according to DiMartile, such as single sign-on; those features have been "expensive to maintain" through three upgrades. Still, he says, "We have no regrets. I still think in terms of all-around capability, they're the best."

Consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu also selected Saba's software, which it rolled out in 2000, because it could serve thousands of employees. Nick van Dam, Deloitte's chief learning officer, says the firm considered learning-management options offered by its two enterprise-resource planning vendors, PeopleSoft and SAP, but decided to go with a standalone system. "In our situation, it was more cost-effective to have Saba as the solution rather than using an ERP system," van Dam says.

Other customers have found Saba's offering a mixed bag. "What worked, worked extremely well. What didn't work took them forever to fix," says Dick Laforge, director of customer education at Xilinx, a manufacturer of programmable chips that uses a hosted version of Saba's system to provide 10,000 customers, partners and employees access to product training. For example, he says, Saba took two years to incorporate the ability to let participants evaluate classes into its system.

Malcolm Hobbs, Saba's vice president of marketing, says the process of prioritizing which features to develop based on customer requests is a delicate balance: "As you get more customers, making product choices is one of the challenges."

  • Saba Software
  • 2400 Bridge Parkway, Redwood Shores, CA 94065
  • (650) 581-2500<
  • www.saba.com

    Ticker: SABA (NASDAQ)

    Employees: 275

    Bobby Yazdani
    Chairman, CEO

    Former Oracle executive founded the company in 1997 and took it public in 2000. When he stepped aside as CEO in 2002, he was replaced by Geno Tolari, formerly the COO of Sterling Software; last fall, Saba's board of directors dismissed Tolari and put Yazdani back in charge.

    Peter Williams
    Acting CFO

    In April 2004, he replaced chief financial officer Ronald Kisling. Williams was previously general counsel.

    Products

    Saba Enterprise Learning Suite includes class and resource scheduling, skills tracking, collaboration features, and tools for content authoring and publishing. Saba Enterprise Performance Suite lets managers and employees set and evaluate development goals.

    Reference Checks

    Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu
    Nick van Dam
    Chief Learning Officer
    nvandam@deloitte.com

    Project: Consulting firm provides access to 4,000 courses, 75% of which are Web-based, to 20,000 consultants worldwide via Saba.

    Procter & Gamble
    Art DiMartile
    Senior I.T. Manager
    dimartile.ab@pg.com

    Project: Packaged-goods company uses Saba to provide about half of its business units access to 2,700 learning activities, 900 of which are e-learning courses.

    Fifth Third Bancorp
    David Palm
    VP, Education
    david.palm@53.com

    Project: Cincinnati bank went live in May 2002 with Saba, which provides 350 online courses—including compliance education—for 20,000 employees.

    Hill-Rom
    Andy McGuire
    Dir., Global Training
    andy.mcguire@hill-rom.com

    Project: Medical-device manufacturer installed Saba's software in 2000 to track the training history of 6,000 employees.

    Fedex Kinko's Office and Print Services
    Pete Premenko
    Learning Technology Program Manager
    (214) 550-7000

    Project: Copy-and-printing chain deployed a hosted version of Saba's system in the fall of 2002 to replace instructor-led training at 1,100 retail locations.

    Cypress Semiconductor
    Darryl Carson
    Dir., Education and Development
    drc@cypress.com

    Project: Saba hosts system that lets the San Jose, Calif., chip maker train and certify 3,800 employees and 600 external sales representatives on its products.

    Executives listed here are all users of Saba's products. Their willingness to talk has been confirmed by Baseline.



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