The company, which owns brands such as Persil, Flora and Marmite, will use OutStart's Softsim software to run 50 10-week interactive training courses across its European operations.
The simulation software shows the user which steps to take, data to input and fields to complete when using a particular SAP application.
Nigel Batty, Unilever's European organisational change manager for IT, said the company had already trained 5,000 of its employees on SAP using other training software. That project took three years because of "an awful lot of changes to the Unilever business model". But the company expects to finish training the remaining 10,000 workers within the next three years.
"The major benefits of Softsim are that it enables the new One Unilever business model and lets everyone work to a common set of processes," said Batty. "The training gets people to focus on the business process, their role in it and the consequence of their actions."
The main challenge in training staff has been their different languages and levels of experience. "The factories in Germany, for example, have a lot of migrant workers, and German may not even be their first language," said Batty.
Unilever has centralised its IT in two main locations, Rotterdam and Port Sunlight in the Wirral. It is currently reviewing a migration from SAP R/3 to MySAP ERP.