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How Effective ERP Training Can Help Promote Innovation and Growth

In this age of innovation, how can organizations position themselves to promote future growth? As a substantial source of insight, your employees are responsible for both implementing business processes and contributing to ongoing business intelligence. So when implementing a new ERP (enterprise resource planning) solution, effective training can contribute positively to business outcomes and potential for future growth. 

In a recent Aberdeen Group  report, it states that companies are beginning to drive improvements in their operations as a result of identifying the value in the data that is generated from across the organization. These businesses are analysing data and using the resultant insights to generate a competitive advantage. 

The implementation of an ERP system, when done well, can lead to great benefits in performance metrics such as profit margins, inventory accuracy, complete and on-time delivery, in addition to many others. It is not the kind of software that benefits from a 'set and forget' approach. It requires continued commitment to realise the kind of gains that support innovation. This means effective change management and buy-in from employees is essential. Your employees are ultimately responsible for ensuring that an ERP solution is successful and its ultimate potential is realized.

Training can be problematic without effective support and strategies. New software and processes are often intimidating and resistance to change is common. New technologies represent challenges to staff and in some cases a shifting technological landscape. All too often these challenges are exacerbated by ineffective training that focus only on technical competency. Your staff, with support, need to understand how new systems benefit them. Further to this, by implementing role-based training you help connect new ERP platforms to the bigger picture of the enterprise, thereby providing both motivation and understanding. 

Beneficial training practices

In its report, The Value of ERP Training, Aberdeen Group identify that linking business process and ERP training is a trait likely held by the 'Best-in-Class' organizations. These businesses have formal training plans which lead to a faster return on investment (ROI), as this buy-in embed the ERP solution into the organizational foundation and culture. 

As we discussed last week, cross-departmental training further assists in this regard. By observing the software in use across the enterprise-from executive staff through to sales floor personnel-employees gain valuable insights that can improve organizational outcomes. In this setting sales staff can be overlooked, but the transactions they are responsible for are essential to better understanding of inventory, timing, and expenditure. 

Ongoing learning

Learning is a process that doesn't end with a training session, and so support for continuous training can be essential for ongoing ROI. As staff build upon their knowledge of the ERP software, so does the potential for further ROI. 

The knowledge gained through initial training soon fades without continuous exposure. Often it pays to revisit training periodically and build learning into the expectations of the role. Regarding continuous improvement and integration, it's evident that training forms an essential component. By integrating siloed departments and promoting ongoing education, organizations can begin to pool data and gain greater in-depth business intelligence. 

To this end, it pays to find an ERP provider that offers a broad collection of training resources, which allow organizations to implement training in a continuous and flexible way that best suits their needs

If readily available, an extensive library of training courses, educational materials, and user resources can provide an excellent platform from which to develop an effective training strategy.

Flexibility in training format and delivery

Ideally both onsite and remote training should be available through the vendor, meaning your employees have access to numerous courses both online and in person. Sessions ideally should be individualised and hands-on, using an ERP system and business data. Instructors and personnel can also benefit greatly from pre-established training outcomes to ensure that success factors integral to roles are met. 

If your vendor offers ways to compile and publish your own training courses conveniently, using pre-developed templates and resources, it can be a significant advantage. The training materials can then be reused across the enterprise, maximising and the value of the educational assets. 

Vendors with strong partner networks can also be an asset-so ideally training by the vendor is complemented by a strong network of consulting and training partners across the globe. With the collective resources of client, vendor, and partners, they can offer a turn-key solution for implementing ERP systems.

Learning on the job

Once formal training is concluded, personnel should be able to rely on extensive online documentation and an intuitive interface for in-tool assistance and field definition. Clearly defined fields with context sensitive assistance can prove invaluable for beginners. The technical reference guides that a vendor provides should offer detailed documentation on specific tasks, and they have the potential to be the most useful and comprehensive asset available for your employees' ongoing education-providing functional overviews, permutations, calculations, process flow diagrams, and case studies.

Aberdeen further indicated that the Best-in-Class ERP implementers are 80% more likely than all others to have a formal on-boarding process to train all new users. 

If substantial educational resources are made available by the ERP vendor, they contribute significantly to the ongoing training and therefore the success of the enterprise. This can then bolster user adoption and ensure the kind of ROI that results in innovation and growth. 

Better trained users equal a better return from your ERP system. ERP software is developed to enable an enterprise to work efficiently and intelligently. The better your personnel are able to use the platform, the better your enterprise is equipped to extract information and identify opportunities. This is why the training available on an ERP solution can be such an important factor for growth.

Posted by Vince Randall, Regional Vice President, Epicor Software ANZ

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