A five-minute “health check” for your Enterprise Resource Planning and SAP training.
By Jeff Carpenter, President and CEO, Caveo Learning
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) integrates internal and external data across an entire organization, embracing everything from finance/accounting to manufacturing and customer relationship management solutions and automating all activity within an integrated software application. SAP is a large provider of ERP software.
Implementing an ERP system is often a complex process, with many factors affecting the organization’s ability to achieve the ROI within the original business case. Of these factors, training is second only to leadership involvement; however training often is overlooked or not considered an equal partner within the organizational transformation.
Here are the when, why, and how inadequate training can negatively affect the business goals behind your implementation and possibly cause the implementation to fail…and what you can do about it.
9-15 Months Before Go-Live or Pilot
End-user training is mapped to each unique user profile, including how each user integrates and interacts within that workflow. Also, the training describes how users will bridge from the legacy system to the new process.
Key decisions are based on the business rationale for the ERP system, not in defense of the development, process alignment, or implementation of the technology. Your organization is not implementing a software platform; it is investing in increased productivity, efficiency, and output from the end-users. Decisions, such as reassigning resources from training to development, should be based on the original business goals, not on meeting technology deadlines.
Training/learning measurements have been matched to overall ROI. If you haven’t done this, your training likely will cause delays and impede expected performance improvements.
3-9 Months Before Go-Live or Pilot
Training activities reflect “real-world” experience. This helps users with specifics on how to bridge to the new platform and adopt new processes.
Internal trainers and power users are identified and being trained on the ERP system. Often, due to delays or budgeting, internal training teams are not given adequate time to become experts in the system. Their familiarity is directly proportional to the training’s efficacy.
The knowledge management system is in place. There are many forms this can take (lesson libraries, cheat sheets, short-burst videos, etc.), but it’s critical to have a system to handle proactive refreshers, spot needs, employee attrition/absences, etc.
0-3 Months Before Go-Live or Pilot
Metrics are set to evaluate training adoption and performance levels. These metrics measure how effectively new processes are being integrated into end-users’ daily work streams and how training is helping meet the original business case and ROI.
A post-training communications plan is established. It’s important to be ready to deliver updates and success stories (to name two examples) to mitigate inevitable performance declines and lagging excitement level after the initial training.
Most day-to-day questions are answered by internal teams or power users. End-user questions escalating to the help desk is a common symptom that the resident knowledge base is lacking. Also, look for “workarounds” that skirt the upgraded processes and procedures.
What If You Are Missing Any of These Elements?
If you are not confident your training is hitting the mark in all the above cases…act now! Secure the people (e.g., trainers, power users) and/or documentation (e.g., process plans, data-filled exercise plans) to get back on track.
If you do not have the internal resources, training consultants can help. First, though, understand if you need configuration (system/screen-focused) or end-user (output/task-focused) training. Few training consultants are experts at both, so it’s best to first identify your needs and their strengths.
Finally, it is almost always smart to start with an assessment and a training plan, regardless of where you are in your implementation. And, of course, make sure any recommendations match the business case goals.
Jeff Carpenter is president and CEO of Caveo Learning, a full-service training and development firm that focuses on end-user training for large-scale SAP/ERP implementations. Carpenter is an organizational development professional with more than 20 years’ experience in training operations, performance improvement, instructional design, and process alignment across a broad range of industries within the Fortune 500. He can be reached at 312.651.4000 or mailto:email@example.com.