Over the past decade, businesses generated an unprecedented quantity of patents, products, and profit models. This trend of consistent expansion is accelerating—2015 being one of the most innovative years in history. In order to thrive in this age of explosive growth and competition, businesses must maximize resource efficiency. And, to do this, they must have tools that are in line with the pace of the 21st-century marketplace.
Arguably the most important of these tools is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software package. Industry leaders consider ERP software the cornerstone of their company’s organizational and operational efficiency. Yet, some business owners and executives consider ERP software cost-prohibitive due to the oftentimes shocking cost of adopting and implementing an ERP package. However, businesses can avoid many unnecessary costs, and significantly reduce their bottom line by following a series of steps.
We detailed these steps in a White Paper and broke it down in a series of articles. In the fourth article of this guide, we will detail how companies should leverage the time associated with training and how they can set up their team for success.
• Article 1 (Chapter 1): ERP Software Selection: Where Should I Start?
• Article 2 (Chapter 2): How to Create A Winning ERP Implementation Team
• Article 3 (Chapter 3-4): Do I Need to Customize my ERP?
• Article 4 (Chapter 5): How Can I Save Money on ERP Training?
• Article 5 (Chapter 6): How To Make Sure You Will Not Miss Your ERP Go-Live Date
• Article 6 (Chapter 7): What is the Executive’s Role in an ERP Implementation?
• Article 7 (Chapter 8): What is the Best Approach to ERP Implementation?
Chapter 5: How Can I Save Money on ERP Training?
Understand the importance of Training
The foundation and success of the entire ERP implementation rest on the end users’ ability to use and navigate the software as it was intended. This not only qualifies user training as one of the most imperative steps in the implementation but also one of the biggest cost implications. ERP firms commonly set aside a specific percentage of the project’s budgeted hours towards training. Depending on the ERP being implemented, courses are usually broken out based on modules and are either priced per course or per user. Although most implementations may include some padding for re-training, it is likely that any formal training courses that are requested a second time will be billed against the project, thus adding to the original cost forecast for the ERP training portion of the project. These unnecessary cost increases can be prevented through preparation, accountability, discipline, and cooperation from the stakeholders and end users of the organization.
Assuming the project manager and implementation lead/super user have agreed upon a granular and detailed project plan, there is usually ample time to prepare for software training courses. It is imperative to request and familiarize the team of trainees with detailed training agendas prior to training. This practice allows for end users to brainstorm topics, determine any missing processes/objectives, and populate lists of questions specifically related to their use of the software. Pointing out unique business situations and processes (and how they will be executed in the software), and initiating conversations between the trainer and other end users will allow the team to come up with proper solutions both in process and software functionality. If these types of procedural and situational inquiries aren’t addressed in training, they will come up after the ERP has gone live, resulting in an influx of preventable support costs.
“Unnecessary costs (like re-training) can be prevented through preparation, accountability, discipline, and cooperation from the stakeholders and end users of the organization”
Prepare Your Team
Another crucial part of the team’s preparation will be to acclimate the end users with the software itself. Most ERP providers will issue licenses and user credentials in the first month of an implementation. This lead time allows trainees to begin logging into the system and exploring screens and modules that may associate with their day to day operational procedures and responsibilities. Getting to know the ‘lay of the land’ will allow users time to adjust to the general look and feel of the software. Often times, if end users are seeing the software for the first time during training, their attention is easily diverted to simply analyzing the graphics, nomenclatures, and all around the design of the software itself—which usually results in a lack of retention in the core subject matter.
One proactive measure the company can take in order to prevent retraining is to demand mandatory attendance for all assigned courses/sessions. As previously discussed, during the implementation, resources and team members experience the burden of a second workload on top of their tumultuous day to day schedule. It is very easy for a resource to justify skipping out on a training class, or stepping away and leaving a course in order to put out a fire or deal with an operational need. Although exceptional circumstances may demand this type of behavior, upper management and key stakeholders overseeing the implementation must make it abundantly clear to all resources that training course attendance is required. If a company makes new hires or does require some re-training during the final months of an implementation, a properly groomed superuser should be able to cover most of the subject matter at that point.
Although the actual training is an integral part of an end user’s adoption and acquirement of the software, documentation will go a long way in preventing avoidable support calls and inquiries—which can add very quickly to the overall cost of an implementation. Most ERP providers can provide customers with generic documentation for at least the basic modules of the platform. The most beneficial and proactive approach to documentation would be to formulate documentation and user guides specific to the company and its standard operating procedures. While generic documentation will help, end users will experience more significant benefits from the documentation that represents the activities and functions performed on a daily basis within the company.
In the fifth article of this series, we will give you pieces of advice to ensure your project follows the estimated timeline.