“If you think education is expensive — try ignorance”. — Derek Bok, president of Harvard University.
User training is one of the puzzle’s pieces which allows you to create a complete picture of a successful implementation project. Attention should be paid to end-user training in the case of implementing such IT systems as ECM (Enterprise Content Management), which will be used by many employees.
No less important is the training of ERP and CRM users, because they are aimed at solving complex business problems. Whether an implemented IT system or business application becomes a productive and useful tool for a company, directly depends on the well-organized training for end users.
In this article, we will look at end-user training in terms of process organization.
We will examine a different kind of ways to organize end-user training on implementation projects, limitations, advantages, and disadvantages of each approach, as well as our experience in applying some of these methods on IT implementation projects.
These days, the most popular methods of organizing end-user training are:
- small group training in a computer lab;
- face-to-face workshops;
- webinar seminars;
- training videos integrated into the system;
Let’s review each method for various parameters: the number of users, the effectiveness of training, training schedule, complexity and cost.
Small groups user training in the computer class
This training method is optimal for organizations where the number of users working constantly with the new system is limited to several tens. The method is most effective in terms of the quality of education. Computer room user training is also recommended if the majority of employees do not have practical experience in using the automation systems. In this case, it is recommended to conduct full-time training with practical exercises. Based on our experience, such a format is most often used to educate a workgroup first.
|· Possibility to present material in greater volume or with more detail
· A more guaranteed result from training
· Animated dialogue with the teacher, possibility to ask questions
· Opportunity to get practical skills
|· A limited number of users at once
· The high cost of training per participant
· The duration of training due to the combination of theory and practice
Full-time seminars for users
This method is optimal for organizations with 100-200 users (it could be in case of ECM implementation). This training method is less effective than the previous one, but at the same time, it retains the ability to ask questions and get answers to them in real time. It is recommended to make a video recording of the training seminar, so in the future, end-users can refer to it and refresh their knowledge.
From our personal experience of using face-to-face seminars, we can recommend combining such training with detailed user instructions (both for the business process and for distribution by roles). It is also necessary to provide resources for the organization of the first line of user support at the stage of pilot production.
|· Ability to reach a significant number of users
· Low cost of training per user
· Short term training
· The possibility of dialogue with the teacher, the opportunity to ask questions, clarify
|· The material is presented in theoretical form, there is no possibility of practical use of the system (it is impossible to “touch” during the training session)
· Training material is limited, most often gives a general idea of the work in the system.
Webinar user-training workshops
Webinar end-users training is optimal for companies where the number of users is several hundred and more and/or employees are geographically detached.
From our experience of conducting webinars, I would like to draw attention to the following points: webinars are devoid of “eye contact,” the teacher is hard to get feedback from the audience in real time. However, if users are employees who already have experience in automation systems, such a format is quite viable.
|· Capacity to reach a significant number of users
· The ability to train users without leaving the workplace (for example, employees of company branches in different cities)
· Low cost of training per user
|· The material is presented in theoretical form, there is no possibility to practice during the webinar
· Training is limited, often gives general information of the work in the system.
· The risk of technical problems
Training videos embedded in the IT system
This method also has no restrictions on the number of end-user and the time of training. Training videos demonstrate the standard functionality of the system, without taking into account any additional modifications for a specific customer. Therefore, it can be recommended to those companies whose business processes fit into the standard functionality of the system or have been adapted to the system.
Watching videos does not replace full-training and is recommended as an addition to other formats of user training.
|· No need to specifically organize end-user training. Any user can refer to the training material at any time.
· No additional financial investments
|· Videos provide the ability to view a demonstration of the functional, but there is no way to perform any practical tasks. (Is not recommended to train in the “live” system)
· They describe the standard functionality, do not take into account the customizing system for a specific customer.
Online Learning Tools (e-Learning)
The use of online learning tools (for example, based on SAP Enable Now, Oracle Learning, DoceboLMS, etc.) is recommended for large organizations with a large number of users working in the system, including employees who working from home-office. Users can independently allocate time to complete these courses, and then refer to them if necessary when performing their daily duties.
In terms of efficiency, the method is comparable to training in a computer class, because a user can test his knowledge’s in a practical task.
|· No need to specifically organize training, users at any time can refer to the training material.
· No need a large number of employees to provide first-line user support
· The opportunity to get theoretical knowledge and still see a demonstration of certain actions in the system and reproduce them in a practical unit.
|· The high cost of distance learning tools.
· There is no possibility for live-dialogue with the teacher, for asking questions
If you want to learn more about user training, please read other materials:
- User Training: The Key to Unlocking the Benefits of a Software System
- The importance of User Training during software implementation
- How A Proper End User Training Can Improve Performance After A New Software Implementation
- Why software upgrades in companies can cause panic and fear
We, as Software Provider, truly understand how important it is to organize user training for employees. It is necessary to pay attention to users’ needs, and not only to the system being implemented. Investment in employees training will allow enterprises to quickly get the benefits that the new IT system provides.
During the years of experience in software implementation, we have met business leaders that have various points of view on the use of IT technology such as ERP system, CRM software, as well as software implementation and software Integration in general. Perhaps you recognize yourself as one who:
Currently, do not have a software management system. You put a system implementation on hold and keep using Microsoft Word and Excel to store your sensitive data until you really have no choice but to upgrade to an ERP/CRM system
Currently, use a legacy system. You keep using your legacy system for a few more years and continue making minor fixes here and there to accommodate the changes in your industry/business
Go through with a software upgrade anyways. No matter what you’ve heard or what you’ve previously been through during previous IT projects implementations, you still go ahead with a software upgrade because you know in the long run this will be best for your company’s prosperity and employees.
Software Implementation: Fear of Change
Why Software Implementations are known to be so painful to Business Executives? Among the most commonly called causes are price, time-consuming, and fear of big change. It’s an actual fact because often the final price is so expensive. Normally, implementations take more time than expected, while staff are resisting to the change in business processes. New systems seems too complex, so they pretend they were better off with Excel Spreadsheets and Word Documents, or their old legacy system.
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Achieving the Easiest Software Implementation Ever
Here are some pointers that will allow you to have a smooth implementation and avoid major problems, as listed above.
1. Put together a small internal team to oversee & manage Implementation Project.
An internal team, made up of 5 employees or less, is critical for a successful software implementation. This group should be continuously interacting with all the departments and top management as well. They work hand in hand with the ERP Service Provider.
On top of this, it is best if these employees are not distracted by their normal daily tasks as they should fully commit their time to the software implementation project. This will ensure everything is running smoothly and everyone’s needs are met.
2. Hire a qualified IT/ERP Provider
Many Small and Medium size Enterprises do not always have an in- house IT team. Nowadays, an in-house IT team is not even necessary due to the emergence of cloud computing and Software as a Service.
However, it is highly important to hire the right Software Provider that can act as your IT Consultant and ERP implementation team for your SaaS ERP project. A qualified ERP Consultant/Provider should have:
- the necessary IT experience and knowledge
- a solid business understanding
- great communication skills, as they will be working hand in hand with your internal team (as mentioned in #1)
- provide a detailed analysis of the different costs upfront (including any potential fees for unexpected situations during implementation)
3. Get the full support from Management
Management should remain unified in supporting the project. They should continuously encourage and motivate their teams not give up.
The support of top management is not only the financial backing but more for encouragement, as this may be a difficult time for employees to get accustomed to a new system and potentially new processes.
On top of this, as there will be a lots of end user training, it can be very helpful if management can alleviate certain team members from regular responsibilities – especially the internal implementation team during that short period of time.
4. Make the Right ‘IT Budget’ Decisions
Management must define the role of IT before any decision can be made. IT can play a major role in meeting the company’s objectives, which is why the Accounting department should fully understand the IT strategy in order to make the right decisions regarding software investments.
It’s about seeing IT not as a cost but rather as an investment.
5. Introduce staff to new processes & standards PRIOR to Implementation
Usually, SMEs have informal, undisciplined types of environments and processes.
The big problem is that ERP systems and other software solutions bring in procedural rigidity and discipline. This is when user resistance and conflicts are likely to arise.
Leaders need to bring in some process consistency & standardized procedures before software implementation begins. It’s all about easing employees into this new work environment.
6. Train your whole team on how to use the new system
Investing in end-user training is not optional if you want to have a successful, smooth software implementation. If your employees do not know how to use the system the right way, they will begin to resist and your team still won’t be working as efficiently as possible.
For successful training, begin this process during implementation and continue after the Go-Live date as well. Follow these steps:
- establish goals
- have the internal team assess each user’s needs and training requirements
- create a training program and schedule
- have the IT Consultant/ERP Provide educate and train the users
Let’s summarize: to achieve an easy software implementation you should:
- Put together a small team at the company to manage the Implementation Project
- Hire a qualified IT Provider
- Get full support from top Management
- Define the role of IT to make better budget decisions
- Introduce staff to new processes & standards early on
- Thoroughly train end-users on the new software
Not sure if your business is running as efficiently as possible? Request a FREE one-on-one 1-hour consultation session with our in-house experts.
We’ve all heard our fair share of nightmare stories when it comes to new software, more specifically Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), implementations. What we don’t often hear, however, are the mistakes that were made during this project that could have been avoided. In many of these stories, the blame is put on the Software Provider or on employees who resist change and the system. However, there are some mistakes that business executives make that can affect the outcome of an ERP software implementation.
Here are 5 common mistakes that business leaders make throughout a new software project;
They opt out of End User Training and After-Sales Support
Before any implementation project begins, a Software Provider will approach the management team with various support plans to choose from. These discounted plans will include billable hours for end user training and post-implementation support. It is up to the customer to choose which plan they’d like to have, depending on the amount of hours they request for support and training for themselves and for all their system users. In many cases, however, in order to keep costs down, executives will opt out of any support plan (which in turn opts them out of end user training for their employees). This is a huge mistake that many business leaders make. Without proper user support and thorough end user training sessions, the chances of user resistance and low productivity increase. If employees don’t fully know how to use the system to its full potential, then companies won’t realize the full benefits of an ERP system, but rather will experience decreased individual performance and thus decreased overall productivity.
In the end, by saving on the support plan, they are losing out more in the long run. End user training and proper support can alleviate stress and combat fears of employees, associated to using a new system, and allows them to accept this big change. It also teaches them the necessary skills to prevent any problems in the system and to efficiently handle unexpected issues with confidence. Never forget that a software system is nothing without its users. System users are the key to unlocking the benefits and improvements that a good software system can bring to a company. Invest in your end users and never pass up on support and training plans. It’s an investment you’ll be happy you made in the long run.
Lack of participation from business leaders
In our very own ‘Process to Succeed’ guideline that we share with customers prior to any new ERP software implementation, we stress the importance of top-level management participation during the planning process as well as throughout the implementation phase. This is a prerequisite to any of our large software implementations, in order for our customers to achieve a successful implementation. What does this participation include? We understand that business owners and executives are extremely busy with their day-to-day tasks and therefore won’t have the time to constantly be working on the implementation project (and we don’t expect them to). Normally, companies will put together a small internal team of about 5 (or less) employees, from various departments, to manage and overlook the ERP implementation project. This is great! The participation that we require from top management comes more in the form of support, motivation and encouragement. Company owners, executives and managers need to have their own confidence in using the system and share their excitement and knowledge with their team, especially when they see them frustrated or afraid of the new changes ahead. Management should remain unified in support of the project and should continuously encourage their employees to not give up and learn all they can about new processes and the new system. During the end user training periods, it would also be helpful if management can alleviate their team, for a short period of time, from regular responsibilities, in order to take the necessary time to get properly trained by the Software Provider.
Leaving it all in the hands of the IT Software Provider
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again and again and again…a software implementation, especially one as large as a full ERP implementation, is only successful if ALL parties participate since everyone in a company will be affected by the change. Similar to mistake #2 above, every team member, even the leaders, needs to have some sort of involvement in the implementation project. It requires synchronous collaboration, which involves the IT team and the business team working together simultaneously and remaining in constant communication as the project progresses, to ensure everything internally is running smoothly and everyone’s needs are being met. Employees are the ones that know the business processes inside out; the IT team is there to help streamline, automate and integrate those processes. It’s important to explain to employees how their participation and role in the project will influence its success. This will give them a sense of commitment to the project and hopefully instil a positive attitude towards the system and implementation process, which is definitely welcome.
Having unrealistic expectations of timelines and costs
Every software implementation is unique. During a new project, Software Providers deal with a new company, new business people, new processes, new requests and new expectations. The business as a whole may be similar to other companies but an implementation is never the exact same from company to company. It’s absolutely critical to share all of your expectations and assumptions you have of the new system and the implementation phase. This includes any timelines, costs, benefits, project roles, etc. By sharing all of this with the IT Provider, they’ll be able to set things straight right from the start. For example, if you were expecting an implementation phase to only last 1 month, the IT Provider, from experience and expertise in the field, may come back to you with a more realistic timeline of 3 months. Therefore, you won’t be disappointed and frustrated when the implementation lasts longer than your 1-month expectation. The Software Provider will also share all of their expectations from your team and of the project as a whole. Together you’ll come up with realistic goals and expectations for your specific case, allowing everyone to be on the exact same page.
Talk with your Software Provider first and get their input on timeframes and realistic expectations, as they can provide their expertise on the matter and knowledge from previous experiences.
Beginning the new software project without a plan of action & workflow
It is never a good idea to start ANY project without a plan of action. So why start an ERP implementation without one? What every business leader should do is;
- Sit down with the Software Provider to discuss and outline the complete process or plan of action for the implementation phase and create a workflow
- Identify everyone’s role and responsibility throughout the implementation phase
- Share the plan of action with all involved parties, along with their roles and responsibilities
- Properly educate all employees (or users of the new system) about any change in business processes that will affect their day-to-day work life.
It’s best if companies have a well-designed plan before starting the project, accounting for minor changes, in order to avoid confusion, frustrations, increased costs, etc. Major software or process changes should all be accounted for during the outline of the plan of action. Inform all employees of the coming changes so they aren’t surprised and can have time to accept these changes.
If you’re a leader of a company, looking to implement a new software system, don’t make these common 5 mistakes. Contact us today for more information.
We know that many of you probably stick with your current IT Provider, even if you aren’t truly satisfied with them and their software solutions. What should you do then when they mention that it’s time to upgrade your existing on-premises ERP system? Should you go ahead with it or should you look into perhaps upgrading to a cloud-based SaaS ERP solution? Read more
We know the term “ERP” is still commonly associated to large enterprises and can come with some pretty bad past experiences by many business executives. Hopefully, this article will shed some light on ERP solutions and implementations in today’s small business environment, as systems and implementation processes have evolved. Small businesses are finally taking advantage […]
User Training for New ERP Implementation – Done Right!
In many of my previous articles, I repeatedly mentioned the term “user resistance” when it came to implementing a new software solution at a company (no matter its size). I tend to put quite a bit of focus on user resistance since this happens all too often at companies and it can easily be stopped (with a bit of work of course)! Read more
The Initial Transition to a New Software System
The implementation of any new software system can always seem a little daunting at first. What’s important to remember (and keep reminding yourself) is that this phase of any software project doesn’t have to be so terrible. Typically, what can take the most time is the initial transition from the old system to the new (or in many cases, from NO system to A system – this is when companies have been relying primarily on using Excel Spreadsheets, Word documents and Email). During this initial transition we have a ‘Learning Period’, where, of course, employees need to learn how to actually use the new software application.
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This article really touched upon the negative experiences of ERP implementations at businesses. It goes on to answer the question: “Why do companies have such terrible software implementation experiences?” Our experts’ conclusion was that either their ERP Provider is only providing them with half-truths about implementations to sell their own products OR business executives make their own assumptions and do not do the proper research required beforehand. Getting the RIGHT and TRUTHFUL information from IT Providers as well as doing your own research on implementations is absolutely critical. Read more to get the real story behind those false statements about ERP Implementations. Read more
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