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Planning Effectively to Train the End Users of Your ERP System

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Planning Effectively to Train the End Users of Your ERP System

In 2010, the American retailer Lumber Liquidators disappointed stock market analysts with poor earnings. The Virginia-based company blamed a failed ERP implementation for its woes.

Lumber Liquidators isn’t the only “victim” of an unsuccessful ERP implementation. The list includes Hershey’s (19% dip in bottom line), City of Oakland (generation of erroneous paychecks), Miller Industries (inefficient use of ERP), and WW Grainger Inc. ($11 million cut in revenues).

Why were these firms unable to use ERP systems effectively? Well, they did not focus adequately on one of the important aspects – training their end users.

The findings of various studies reveal that most ERP systems fail to create the desired impact because of poor end user training. You may have spent millions in acquiring the best ERP software and customizing it according to your business needs. But, if your people do not get the necessary training to utilize the software effectively, your investment goes down the drain.

But, how to deliver good training to the end users of an ERP system?

One of the critical aspects in the delivery of effective training on ERP systems is effective planning. Today, we will see how to plan the end user training program properly.

Formulating a good plan for ERP end user training

You can ensure that the end user training proceeds smoothly by doing the following.

Build a business case for the training

Your boss may not agree to sign the check for the end user training unless you convince him of the returns that the investment on the training would bring. So, how can you overcome this problem? Well, you need to construct a solid business case for training on your enterprise software. Here is how you need to proceed.

  • State clearly the problems that arise if the training is not provided
  • Describe how training can help overcome the problems
  • Do a thorough research and explain how much the company would lose if training is not provided in dollar terms
  • Come up with an implementation timeline (more of it in a few moments) 

Ensure that the training budget is adequate

Once your boss is convinced of the need for training, you need to focus on estimating the “right” budget for the training. But, now comes the big question – how much is enough? Well, there is no “magic formula” to calculate the training budget. However, a research conducted by Cushing Anderson of IDC revealed that organizations which spend 7% of the budget on training were significantly more successful than projects where only 4% of the budget went to training.

Get the training timeline right

It is a well-known fact that preparations for the end user training should begin as early as possible. But, how early is too early? Well, it is advisable to begin the groundwork at least 5 quarters ahead of going live. Here is a break-up of the ideal timeline.

Quarters before going live Tasks to be performed
5 and 4
  1. Identifying the place of each end user group in the re-engineered workflow. For instance, you need to determine how end users in the procurement division fit into the new scheme of things.
  2. Developing a pathway for “migrating” the end users from the legacy systems to the enterprise software.
3 and 2
  1. Training the super users who play a key role in helping the end users utilize the enterprise software in a hassle-free manner.
  2. Educating the end users on the new business processes and training them on the steps involved in using the new software.
  3. Creating an effective mechanism to manage the learning materials in various formats such as videos, micro-learning modules, etc.
1
  1. Developing key performance indicators to assess the efficacy of training.
  2. Putting a system to provide updates and resolve the queries of the end users, as they start using the enterprise software.

Presenting a good business case goes a long way in getting the nod for the training from your boss. You need to see that adequate budget is allocated to the training, so that you don’t run into trouble due to last minute “squeezing” of funds. By coming out with and adhering to a proper training timeline, you can avoid delays and make sure that the end users make the best use of the ERP system. What do you think?

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