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Beyond the Buttons

As the link between training, education, and successful ERP implementation becomes increasingly clear, the notion of “this button does that” training has become obsolete. The roots of this trace to the turn of the millennium, when Wheatley famously called for the concept of training to extend to education, and industry analysts codified the dramatically powerful impact of training and education in driving down the cost and time of ERP implementations.

The most effective training programs not only educate users on how to complete transactions in the software, but also provide an understanding of:

  • How the software supports the business objectives
  • How information flows through the new system
  • How transactions are inter-related with business processes
  • How a task is affected by actions upstream in the system
  • How an action affects tasks downstream in the system
  • How processes are affected because of the software

This breadth helps the user manage the personal change involved in working with an ERP system for the first time, an experience akin to piloting a rocket ship after years of driving a family car. Previously simple and seemingly isolated data entry work now impacts purchasing, manufacturing, accounts receivable, and ultimately customer satisfaction.

In fact, education and training as they relate to ERP software should be an ongoing process. New employees, organizational changes, and system upgrades all drive a continuous need to stay on top of training and education. The most effective programs establish initial user acceptance and competence at implementation, then maintain and develop user proficiency over the long term. The training/education lifecycle is a continuous process of assessing, planning, training, and supporting.

Epicor sees three essential elements in this education lifecycle:

  1. Assess and plan
  2. Educate and train
  3. Reinforce and support

Well before the initial software implementation or upgrade, companies need to identify training objectives, assess users, and develop a pragmatic plan on how to meet their objectives, both for training and how they tie to overall business performance objectives.

The second stage is all about communication: informing users of the what, why and how; explaining changes; addressing concerns and ensuring user support; and of course the training itself. To optimize learning and knowledge retention, experts recommend using a blended learning approach.

Finally, companies need to constantly reinforce the education and training provided. This entails providing resources and tools for informal learning, offering refresher or advanced courses, and identifying “super users” as go-to experts within the organization.

Posted by Amy Baker, Manager, Product Marketing

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