“If you think education is expensive, try ignorance” – Derek Bok.
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution training is important, however we would say that. Let me take five minutes to explain exactly why. When assessed training should be equal to or placed a little above the entire evaluation and selection of an ERP system itself. However, training is often the most overlooked and underfunded portion of any ERP implementation project.
When a decision is being taken to implement an ERP system in an organisation, training sessions to the end-users should be discussed but in reality they aren’t. The key focus at the time is often functionality, business benefits or system cost. Whilst these areas are indeed very important, if the financial and time resource is going to be invested in order to increase productivity, organisational efficiency and output (or whatever business metric) and the end-users using this system are unsure how to operate, the investment will certainly be under-utilised, no matter how intuitive the system is or how great the functionality is. Therefore training plays a vital part in ensuring end-users can realise the benefits of the ERP system for the business.
In the process of selecting an ERP system, during the “validation” or “cost case” phases, companies will determine the overall business goals. At this point the company should also be aligning training goals. Insufficient training can cause operational delays and impinge on realising such business goals.
While implementing a system, an understanding of the knowledge and skills required needs to be established. Additionally a business has to work out how best to use the functionality of the system – this could be inherently different for each individual business operation. By identifying the knowledge/skill gap and establishing best practices/workflow, end-users can now be effectively trained with a clear training plan being put in place.
In order for the end-users (and the business) to benefit, the training should be job role specific. The end-users need an understanding of the basic concepts of ERP system and then how to perform their specific day-to-day activities. Others who may require training include managers, who should have at least an appreciation of what the system does.
A select number of people will require more specific technical training so that they can manage databases, write report scripts, design workspaces, manage users and query the database for specific requirements.
With ERP training in general once the system is up and running and end-users are trained a business should begin to reap the benefits, however it is fair to assume that over time an ERP system will evolve to some extent. Therefore it may be necessary to conduct additional training sessions to keep everyone abreast of the changes that have occurred.
One final consideration for ERP training is that of new starters. As the cycle of new employees joining and ex-employees departing occurs, an organisation must ensure new individuals are well-versed with the company ERP system. This maybe ensuring new employees are trained/qualified as part of the recruitment process or training may form part of the on-boarding process. Think of the question the CFO asks the CEO:
CFO to CEO: “What happens if we invest in training our people and then they leave us?”
CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”