The importance of training: Part 1 – the training plan

By - October 14, 2014

Training at all levels of the organization is critical to the overall success of the implementation. Functionality is no longer the definition of success. Usability is the key factor in an end user’s willingness to accept change in their daily routines and work environment. However, it’s common to see implementations take place where end users are not included in the planning or design phases. This naturally causes friction when their first glimpse of the new application is after the environment been built because they’re presented with a software application full of foreign screens and little-to-no understanding of new processes, workflows and configuration changes that have been added. What typically follows is either:

  1. The implementation team is hit with a list of business critical items that were overlooked during requirements gathering workshops and demo sessions
  2. A adverse reaction by those who are expected to use the new solution to run business operations and provide analytics

There is a general belief that providing on-the-job training after the solution has been “turned on” is a sufficient way to teach end users what is needed to do their job functions. Although this type of training has a purpose, it’s not enough to ensure that users at every level are using the solution effectively. Typically, this kind of training turns into a “shotgun” approach for teaching users the out-of-box solution, instead of what was designed to facilitate specific business processes. They’re left with a high-level understanding of the how to perform basic activities, but are not capable of utilizing new features that were intended to drive the ROI outlined in the Total Cost of Ownership Analysis prior to project approval.

Ultimately, end users find unintended workarounds that lead to inconsistencies with the data and reporting… then you’re back to square one!

So what should this plan include? A complete Training Plan will outline action items such as:

Identify what type of training is required for the project scope

  • A budget that includes cost estimates for resources allocated to training development and delivery, as well as costs for end user training
  • A clear outline of the expectations, milestones and deadlines to be accomplished prior to the implementation go-live date (where will the training phase reside within the Implementation Plan?)
  • Designate who will be trained – this includes training-the-trainer(s), as well as users at various levels (administrators, power users, limited users, etc…)
  • After role designation, determine who will deliver each section of the training (IT partner, business team or both)
  • A timeline for the training sessions and how they will be conducted (on-site vs. online, rooms needed to facilitate, frequency of sessions, live vs. scripted recording, etc…)
  • Assigned teams that prepare the training material and documentation needed for the sessions
  • Requirements for building the actual training environment (using pre-existing data and records necessary for trainees to complete the coursework)
  • An Evaluation Plan that has defined metrics in order to measure the success of your training sessions once completed.

A well-defined training plan will help eliminate the opportunity to point fingers when problems arise during critical phases leading up to the go-live date. But it also promotes effective cross-functional interaction between the project and training teams early in the development lifecycle; and this type of interaction has a direct correlation to the project being delivered on-time and within budget.

This should provide you with an overview of what is expected when organizing your training plan. In my next post, I’ll discuss items to address when outlining your train-the-trainer phase in more detail.

RSM is a top ranking national Microsoft Dynamics partner with more than thirty years of implementation experience.  We utilize a proven methodology for our Dynamics CRM implementations consistently across all projects.  If you’d like to discuss more about your training plan, or your implementation in general, please feel free to reach out to me directly at eric.blevins@mcgladrey.com. For more information regarding our services, please contact our professionals at 855.437.7202.

By: Eric Blevins – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Kansas City

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