End-User ERP Training: How to Avoid One-Size-Fits-All

By Lesli Hines | December 3, 2014

*This article first appeared on ERP Software Blog

Training as part of an ERP rollout is often treated with a bit of neglect and mostly an afterthought. The technical, development and functional implementation teams are worn out from user acceptance testing, which is typically completed just before end-user training. At that point in the project it is full steam ahead towards go-live, budget is constrained and yet there is still an open checkbox on the Project Plan Task List: train end-users.

Most of us understand that high user adoption is key to the organization recognizing the full business value. Make sure your organization is not falling into the trap of last minute, one-size-fits-all ERP training. To do this, it is important to create an ERP training plan for your implementation with the following components: an end user process impact matrix, creating flexible content delivery, defining user/role learning paths, provide process based training, plan early, budget and secure resources.

End User Process Impact

It is important to understand and assess your pool of end users that will be going live with the new ERP system. You can work with the business or operational leaders to determine who needs to know what components of the new software. What level of knowledge do they need to have? Do they need to be cross-trained for multiple roles within the organization for contingency or do they need to know multiple roles at 100 percent? If it is a platform change for the organization are there other supporting skills that end-user needs to learn in order to be successful?   All of these pieces help understand, by business unit or organizational site, what level of effort for training needs to happen.

Flexible Methods for Content Delivery

Most organizations have end users that span multiple generations of employees. There are vast differences in the way adults learn how to use technology and often it breaks down with generational distinctions. Baby Boomers (1946-1964) learn in a mostly linear fashion, whereas Millennials (1981 - 2000) are considered digital natives. Offerings for training can consist of combinations of the following:

  • Printed reference material or process based organization specific documentation - a favorite of the Boomers, where Millennials consider this an assault on the forest.
  • Prerecorded videos walking through a specific process and entry screens.
  • PowerPoints of process policy with communications on how to handle exceptions.   (Exception based training is key to avoiding the downfall of overly rushed happy path training.)
  • Onsite classroom style training with lab exercises.
  • Lunch and learn open seminar topics.
  • Webinars of full sessions for remote training.

Defining User/Role Learning Paths

After you have assessed the end-users and created a process impact, you will be able to design curriculum that can be associated with specific users and roles. These can be aggregated in a Learning Management System (LMS) so that a defined path of learning with modules of courses can be assigned to the users. When using the framework of an LMS the instructors/organization can maintain accountability by tracking, testing for retention and even offering certification on the coursework. The setup is fairly simple and then the LMS does all the auditing of logins, time spent reviewing content, testing and then also offers feedback surveys to offer ongoing improvement for the content.

Provide Process Based Training

The training content should be geared to address specific ERP processes within the organization that aligns with the roles of the end-users. The processes are what the end-users repeat throughout the day to produce their work and the ERP system is the tool that merges with the process. Therefore it is key to structure the training around processes as it will be the most intuitive to the end-user and will likely have been addressed as part of the organization shift towards improvement with the ERP implementation.

Plan Early, Budget and Secure Resources

Successful End-User training requires the Implementation Team to plan early. Although it doesn't seem like something as urgent as other tasks early in the project plan, it is key to being prepared when the implementation nears the deployment stage. The executive sponsors need to approve the budget for line items like onsite training, support from the consulting firm, implementing an LMS for the framework, hiring outside resources to help generate or consolidate content, as well as any travel to remote users/sites.   Resources identified early in the process will also be key to have in your training plan. Your subject matter experts (SME's) are a great starting place to recruit your internal trainers but not all SME's make good trainers for the rollout. They may be too deep in one subject area and not broad enough knowledge across the system. Ideally, you will also want to appoint and train up alternate trainers should your original pool of talent get pulled from your project late in the implementation.

All these components help organizations avoid the one-size fits all ERP training that has plagued implementations for the past couple decades. There are so many great resources available to help your organization improve your training, create excellent knowledge transfer and solidify end-user training retention - starting with a dedicated ERP consulting partner. Your partner combined with solid training is integral to high user adoption and the successful go-live we all strive for and clients deserve.

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