User Training for ERP: a Rung on the Ladder to Success?

One of the best ways to increase the likelihood of ERP implementation success is with an effective end user training process. There are several levels of escalating contribution that can result from a well-executed end user training program for ERP.

Ensuring that on day one, everyone can logon to the new ERP system, get to the transactions they need to do their jobs, and have the knowledge to execute the transactions by themselves is the most basic level of success. Without this baseline of competency, there is no question the effort would fail. This level of competency can only occur if the end users have received effective educational instruction, and have been asked to practice applying what they have learned.

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The second tier of end user training success is to have some end users sufficiently trained so that they can participate effectively in volume testing leading up to ERP go live. These people contribute beyond their task participation because they bring real world eyes to problems to which the ERP implementation team may have grown blind. They recognize what areas of training are going to be especially problematic. Also, they can look at output from the ERP system and in a glance spot common sense errors that a team unfamiliar with the day-to-day data might overlook.

The highest benefit of end user training for ERP is to increase the effective size of the problem-solving team at go-live. “Problem solvers” are helpful, positive energy contributors to an effort; much more valuable than the more common “problem identifier”, who are content to throw a problem over the wall to the implementation team, and then walk away from it. The best way to increase the number of problem solvers is to identify individuals during training who either show unusually quick comprehension of the material, or unusual curiosity, and to give those people additional training and mentoring.

All of these levels require a consistent and logical education process. Everyone in the organization who will touch ERP must be identified by name and job function. Every transaction required for that function must be identified, and assembled into an appropriate security role. Training material must be prepared, and sufficient practice problems set up so that everyone can engage in hands-on practice. Different types of transactions require different amounts of preparation and master data. With five valid customers and five valid materials, you can create dozens of different sales orders, but you can’t report production unless you have a work order and sufficient inventory of all components. Instructors must be enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and patient. Training must be timed for shortly before implementation, or else retention goes down dramatically.

Getting the maximum number of people competently trained in for go live is an incredible boost in the quest for ERP implementation success. The need to conduct training occurs during the exact same time frame that anxiety about go-live is peaking. Keep everyone focused on the prize; training for ERP is a key success factor.

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Phil Marshall

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Phil Marshall