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Top Tips: Planning Successful ERP User Education
Over the past decade we have seen how ERP education has gone from being a purely technical exercise to being recognized as a key component in the overall success of a software implementation. Despite efforts however, we still see how insufficient end user education is often quoted as a top reason why software fails to deliver on its expectations.
 
In order to make sure that your organization doesn’t fall into the same trap, here are five top tips for how to plan successful ERP education.
  1. Invest in education. Organizations need to make a solid investment in ERP education for their staff.  With a well-planned budget and initiatives, education can help improve user adoption rates, knowledge retention, and software use.  Along with these benefits, investing in education reduces users’ errors and rework, user frustration, and on-going support and help desk requests. Companies should leverage their vendor’s education deliverables as they know the applications and can save time and allow resources to focus on their roles within the company.
  2. Develop education programs. There is no single solution. Even with the hype of technology-based education such as support for learning on tablets, video casts, podcasts, and more, there is still a strong requirement for formal education. It is important to balance the use of new technologies with solid content rather than simply adding technology to the experience. For example, define the learning objectives and integrate formal learning of instructor-led training with informal learning such as a podcast and a job aid. Remember to train all users – from management, project team members and leads, to shop floor personnel – don’t forget any audiences.  Also, remember that learning is continuous and does not end with the implementation and “go live”.  New employees, organizational changes (processes and people) and system upgrades continue.
  3. Remember that infrastructure is key. Without a solid infrastructure to support education, there will be limited effectiveness in the development and deployment of the learning. This includes the library/repository of content, the development/authoring tools, the learning management system (LMS), the collaboration and social platforms, and of course, the project management that brings everything together.
  4. Single sourcing authoring. Effective content and learning requires the advantage of achieving single sourcing of content. The vast majority of companies today jump into content development without developing a single source content development plan. The ability to author in a single tool and store source in a single format (usually xml) pays dividends in translation costs, in flexibility in meeting demands for new output types, in the ability to use a central repository for your global workforce, and in the reuse of content between deliverables. Companies achieve far greater results with single sourcing – from quality to consistency in deliverables.
  5. Culture of change. Organizations must embrace collaboration, ensure that people know their roles, and assign people with the right skills for their role across the company. The goal is to embrace the change needed to increase performance results across your organization. The performance results are achieved within companies that implement and support effective education strategies.
To succeed, education must be more than a ‘check the box’ effort. Education needs to be effective and to be effective it needs to inform and align users on the why, what and how the software is going to impact them, processes and operations; utilize a blended learning approach; support formal and informal learning; and be continuous, ever changing to meet the on-going user and organization needs.
 
Posted by Louise Keppel, Vice President, Epicor University

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