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Seeing the Forest through the Trees: The ERP Education Imperative

You may have seen Epicor’s recent announcement regarding Epicor University, the company’s newest initiative that expands our commitment to provide best-in-class training and education resources for our customers, partners and employees worldwide.

One of the biggest causes of ERP implementation failure is inadequate education and training.

You’ll note both “training” and “education” are mentioned. There is a distinct difference between training and educating. Training is the explaining and demonstrating of “how” to perform a task. Educating is explaining the reasons “why” the task is performed and its role in the organization’s business processes.

As one blogger so eloquently puts it, “the issue of education vs. software training is analogous to training someone to fly a 767 but not educating them on the concepts of jet propulsion or flight; or how to start-up a chainsaw but not the best way to cut down the big tree.”

Training programs often focus on how to use the software, but it’s just as important to educate users on the underlying business processes to ensure system adoption. To be effective, training and education needs to inform and align users on the why, what and how the software is going to impact them, processes and operations. Without this context, ERP deployments can, and often do fail to bring about the business benefits companies seek.

Other best practices that should be woven into your ERP training and education include:

  • User training and education should be contextualized and comprehensive for each and every user group, so that it is relevant to every user.
  • A mix of both formal learning (in a structured [i.e. classroom] environment), and informal learning should be used. Information learning occurs in a non-structured manner (as an outcome of doing one’s job). Research has shown that up to 75% of learning takes place in an informal manner.
  • Education should take into account that people learn differently, and leverage different methods. Utilizing a mix of learning mediums, as in reading, seeing, and doing, ultimately increases knowledge retention.
  • The program should not end with implementation and “go-live.” New employees, organizational changes (process and people) and system upgrades all drive an on-going need to stay on top of education.

In closing, organizations need to see education and training not as an expense, but as an investment. Savvy companies know that to fully realize the value in their enterprise software systems, their users must be able to use the software proficiently, and education and training is the key.

Posted by Louise Keppel, vice president, worldwide education, Epicor and head of Epicor University

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