The first thing to understand here is that training and education are not the same things. Anyone can be trained to press the right button, but education helps them understand why that button is important and the impact on other teams and departments.
Before any training or education can begin the software must be understood by the business and, on the flip side, the business must be understood by the programme team. This is not simply about how your ERP software will be used but the entire business processes, requirements and the reasons behind why transactions and processes are undertaken. This understanding will lead to further questioning and mapping of processes to the new software to see how the software can be leveraged to full potential to meet the needs of the business.
“Fundamentally education is the only way to make sure the business results are achieved.”
Do not just focus on the ‘how’ remember the ‘why.’ The goal is to get people to think, ask questions, push back and work as a team to deliver the expected business results. Thus, processes need to be defined and understood. How will each person’s daily job responsibilities change? Do they understand the expectations? Do they understand how to perform the functions in the system? Do they know how to back out mistakes? Do they know how to run reports? There are many simple questions that are often overlooked.
Broadly speaking there are two approaches to training. An implementation partner can assist in the production of material and delivery of courses to end users or the partner can train customer trainers on the use of the system and the training team can then train the rest of the workforce. Clearly the latter is more financially attractive and there are some significant advantages in keeping the trainers within the organisation for future training requirements. With this in mind, the ‘train the trainer’ approach is typically more commonplace for ERP programmes.
Be sure to allow the trainers plenty of time to ‘play’ with the software and ensure they understand the future state process maps. Allow them plenty of question and answer time with the programme team. Provide a good support network for these key members of the team. They will be the facilitators of the first contact the end-user community has with the ERP system. They need to confidently answer any questions the users may ask and will be critical in instilling confidence in the future user base.
There are lots of good tools to professionalise the training provision. Use one. There is nothing worse than an unprofessional slide deck coupled with poor delivery. There are lots of screen capture/video based tooling to help curate training content. Make a decision on one of these early in the programme and standardise the look and feel of the content. Consider setting up a content reference library when complete. This can then be used as a future reference point or refresher training.
Invest in trainers who are comfortable training. Training is a skill. Do not just assume anyone can train. Find the right people. Too technical and users will switch off. Too vague and users will not understand. The right people are key. Remember the trainers are the first ‘true’ ambassadors of the ERP system. They need to understand it, know how it operates and, importantly, know the future business process surrounding transactions.
The best system in the world is useless if employees do not know how to operate it. Even if it is implemented perfectly, it does not take long for it to become problematic if employees that are not operating it correctly. Role-based training is crucial for each person in the firm.
Look at ways to do cross-training whenever possible. This is training key people in areas of the system outside their core area. This ensures that turnover, vacations, or extended periods of leave do not adversely affect the operations of the company. Try to record and document your training whenever possible. This helps in training remote staff or new staff if there is turnover, and ensures that everyone is getting the same training.
For your ERP solution to be accepted and embraced, your teams must be prepared for the transition to new systems and to new ways of working. This can be achieved with a training programme that addresses critical gaps in skills and learning. In order to do this, you must accurately and comprehensively assess the knowledge requirements and training needs of the organisation. The success of an ERP implementation is partly based on how quickly employees can get up to speed working in their new environment. You can implement the best system possible, but if people are unable or unwilling to use it, cannot expect to be successful.
How to get everyone ready for the transition:
Neil ran his first SAP transformation programme in his early twenties. He spent the next 18 years working both client side and for various consultancies running numerous SAP programmes. After successfully completing over 15 full lifecycles he took a senior leadership/board position and his work moved onto creating the same success for others.