What’s driving the need for alternatives?
Since Oracle’s announcement that it plans to discontinue the development of its User Productivity Kit (UPK), many customers are seeking alternatives for their training development, simulation, and eLearning needs. There will be no major UPK feature releases following the current version (12.1). Oracle has also announced that the UPK Premier Support end date for Oracle UPK 12.1 has been extended from April 2019 to December 2022 if you subscribe to Premier Support. This news is driving many clients to look for alternatives to UPK and create a strategy for migration or reuse their UPK content.
What to do with existing UPK content?
First off, your current content is safe. It isn’t going anywhere, and you can still make updates. The challenge is that if there are issues with UPK going forward, there is no one to help outside of the UPK community.
Your UPK content can continue to be used as a resource for your teams even after you choose another platform; however, there are several options available regarding your existing content.
Yes, I said it, complete redevelopment. While this is certainly the most intensive method of converting the materials, it does provide an opportunity to refresh your existing content and complete any needed updates. However, this task can be daunting if you have a large library of UPK content and dozens (hundreds?) of simulations. The benefit of this task however is that you have the existing content to use as a template for your new training materials. The working conditions brought on by the challenges of 2020 may provide another reason to redesign your content approach and look further into a digital adoption platform.
Convert the existing materials
There are processes where you can convert the existing simulations from UPK to another format. Some of them simply convert the functional simulations to images that you can import into another tool, but they are just that, static images. While this method can be fairly cost-effective, it typically will not result in the type of training resources that you’re expecting; however, it does move you off the UPK platform.
There are options out there to convert the content directly from UPK simulations to another platform such as Ancile uPerform. While this process converts your content to fully functional simulations, you may find that for a large training database, the cost is prohibitive. You may also find that only a small percentage of the existing UPK content is still up to date or relevant due to system and process changes.
What do I mean by this? Basically, the process uses your new training development platform to present the training materials (thus eliminating the UPK player from the user perspective) and link your existing simulations for playback.
The advantage of this method is you begin the process of moving to the new platform and continue to provide your team with the training resources. You can gradually update your existing simulations and simply replace the links you have created to the UPK content with the updated simulations. This process reduces the overall cost of the conversion (no upfront conversion costs) and allows you to set a reasonable timeline for the replacement of your training simulations.
What other options are there?
So, what do I use instead of UPK? There are several options available to replace the UPK developer and player functionality. I have personally used each of the products listed below to create content either alongside of UPK or in lieu of it. The below notes are just quick summaries of each of the products (and mostly my opinions and experiences). Each of these products are capable of the hybrid delivery method discussed above and with the exception of Articulate Rise, are capable of being a replacement for your UPK developer. As you consider alternatives, you’ll want to research each one to find a match to your organizational needs.
- Articulate 360 (Storyline and Rise) – Storyline and Rise 360 are both Articulate eLearning products. Rise is an online development tool that allows you to quickly and easily create eLearning content with a number of features. When using this tool, you will only be able to link to your existing simulations as it doesn’t have a simulation function. Storyline is a more robust eLearning tool that does have simulation capabilities; however, it does not have true object recognition during the capture of the simulations which adds to the development effort.
- Adobe Captivate – Captivate is Adobe’s eLearning development tool. With Captivate you can develop eLearning courses as well as capture simulations much like UPK. While there are a number of changes you must make to make the simulations functional, this is a cost-effective alternative to UPK. As with Storyline above, Captivate does not have a true object recognition functionality, which will add to the development effort.
- Ancile uPerform – Many in the UPK community have heard of uPerform as it’s been a competitor of UPK for several years and Ancile is a GP Strategies partner. It is a full eLearning and simulation development tool and is capable of replacing UPK. Object recognition is fully functional, and it has several of the features you have come to enjoy with later versions of UPK. This is a per user subscription-based tool but it can reduce the amount of development time.
- GP WISE and SAP Enable Now – SAP Enable Now is SAP’s answer to eLearning development and in-app performance support for SAP’s Intelligent Enterprise suite of products. GP WISE (Workforce Improvement Solutions for Enterprise) is a cloud-based service offering run on SAP Enable Now that is sold via subscription. It is a robust tool designed to develop and deliver eLearning courses as well as online help to your user community. If you have a large UPK training database and user group that you support, you’ll want to take a serious look at this tool. Fully functional simulation capabilities (yes, with full object recognition) as well as desktop help and online help functionality. GP and SAP are also education partners.
- Whatfix – Whatfix is a newer partner of GP Strategies and has some interesting in-app features, including self-help, assigned tasks, guided help, and the ability to automate walkthroughs in an application. It even includes a beacon widget that allows developers to “highlight” certain areas of an application for change management and communications related to new functionality and updates. The tool actually overlays on top of most web, desktop, and mobile applications and allows developers to deliver learning in the flow of work based on a user’s role in the system. The Whatfix Editor is pretty easy to use and requires no programming or major technical skills for documenting application walkthroughs or recording simulations.
Whatever approach you decide to take, these tools can help you achieve your ultimate goal: provide relevant content to your users. If you need help assessing the different options or have questions about a certain product, feel free to reach out to me directly or leave a comment below. I will get back to you!