Tuesday, 05 May 2015 00:00

Training is the key to successful ERP projects

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A good enterprise resource planning system needs many different moving parts working together to ensure success. Those with ERP experience know that having the support of top executives and getting them to buy into a change or upgrade early on is crucial. Complete and current documentation of business practices is needed on a practical level as well. This makes sure that the ERP partner working with a business is helping to select the right platform and the correct components to boost efficiency and visibility and improve return on investment.

Training and education is another key for a good, useful and long-lived ERP system. Here's a run-down of concepts that businesses need to focus on to make sure adoption and knowledge among employees is as strong as possible:

Consider all the parts of ERP learning: A great ERP partner will help provide the technical education that employees need to access and use a system competently and offer ongoing support and troubleshooting. What an ERP partner can't do is encourage adoption and understanding in the long term. This task necessarily falls on the managers, executives and ERP transition team at a company. Businesses need to start this process before a new system is close to being ready for use. Simply put, major upgrades or an entirely new ERP platform can cause concern and frustration among employees. After all, they have to learn new and different processes, make changes to daily routines and deal with the additional training efforts potentially taking up part of their already busy schedules.

Because of the potential for employees to view the addition of a new ERP system as a negative because of the perception that it creates more work, business leaders have to show their staff the positives of a new system. Acknowledge that there will be more work in the short term, but streamlined workflows, better visibility into business data and other advantages will make their jobs easier for years to come after the new platform has been installed. This is where the implementation team and company leadership need to understand the difference between technical training and employee education related to the benefits of a new system on an individual level. Generating employee buy-in makes it much easier to get the most out of ERP and start realising ROI.

Make sure there's enough time: ERP education can take up a lot of time between technical training and convincing employees to embrace the change. The implementation team at a business needs to make sure that they've built in enough time for all the educational efforts needed. Trying to squeeze training activities into a short period of time or overloading employees is a good way to sour the general opinion of a new system and make adoption and successful daily use much bigger battles than they have to be. This is a relatively minor consideration that can be handled by creating an educational schedule, but can be overlooked in the face of larger or more immediate concerns.

Know that not everyone learns the same way: People have the most effective learning experiences in different ways - some people learn best through visuals, others through hearing and still more from reading or taking notes. Tech Target pointed out that a lack of educational options means it's harder for some staff members to learn. Businesses need to use their resources to provide things like cheat sheets and instructions, hands-on learning demonstrations and other supplemental materials and events. These are the materials that will get the message across to employees regardless of their preferred learning styles.