This second installment of the three-part blog series, “Best Practices in Training: The Key to a Successful ERP Implementation,” will discuss Documentation, Train-the-Trainer, and end-user Training.
Of all the key elements in a successful Training program, documentation is clearly at the forefront since it’s the foundation for ongoing knowledge transfer with a company’s workforce, especially when trained managers and employees leave an organization. Consultants, like RSM, typically give templates to an enterprise for documenting processes as a starting point, however, they should not be responsible for preparing the documentation. The Training documentation used in end-user training requires the authors to know a company’s processes and procedures inside and out, which is why a company should prepare their own documentation rather than consultants. Generally, it is not a good idea to designate numerous people within a given functional area to prepare training documentation. In the best scenario, one person, preferably chosen in the Train the Trainer program from key departments and functional areas, should be dedicated to documenting processes and developing a reference guide for future use in training. This not only helps the company’s power users learn the system better but also further engages them in the overall implementation. Then, once the documentation has been used in end-user training prior to go-live, user comments should be incorporated into the documentation to improve instruction further going forward. The go-live date, however, doesn’t mean the end of preparing documentation, rather, it should be an ongoing process that includes frequent updates throughout the lifecycle of the system.
Prior to end-user training, which should be designed to prepare the masses to the go-live, a Train-the-Trainer program is recommended. By using a Train-the-Trainer approach, you can help keep training costs down and ensure that correct business process is taught along with the use of the software. Depending on the size of the company, one or several representatives from departments like upper management, finance and accounting, sales, purchasing, production, warehouse, shipping, and receiving, should participate in this training program.
In the past, the industry has judged many Train-the-Trainer programs as ineffective because many consultants train the company trainer on just content rather than on how to deliver the content effectively, or the company simply designated the wrong type of manager as trainer. For the most part, most managers are simply not natural talents in teaching and need instruction on how to present the information in a way that students can understand and later remember when they are doing their jobs. That is why RSM frequently will recommend certain employees for a Train the Trainer program which they feel may have an aptitude for teaching. Most importantly, RSM will not only teach the system information to managers but also skills on how to present the content in an easy-to-understand format.
During this period of training the managers, the Consultant should be reviewing documentation for end-users and creating training support material. Using a variety of formats and providing alternative learning tools helps increase the chance for success, user adoption, and knowledge retention. Examples of alternative types of materials and resources can include pre-recorded videos on “how to” tasks such as the basics of logging on, filling out expense reports, creating sales orders, processing leads or key manufacturing tasks. Other training support material include e-learning style click-through programs, a simulation of the software where users click through various steps in a business transaction, and if they make any mistakes, the system will guide them through on the correct next steps and why.
Once the company trainers are trained, end-user training is scheduled typically just a few weeks before the go-live date so the material is fresh on their minds when they start using the system. Depending on the preferences of the company, classroom sessions are typically held on-site for end-users for two hours a day for one to two weeks before the go-live. The two hour sessions are typically less disruptive to a company’s business compared to a week of all day classes. Then, the day before or the morning of the go-live, usually a short refresher course is held for the end-users. For additional support during the go-live, the consulting team and trainers are available to answer any questions and help users. For the go-live, it’s important to make sure that you have plenty of resources and support from consultants and support teams to help work through any issues, or confusion that may arise. We typically recommend keeping a group of support consultants onsite for several weeks to assist in training and post go-live issues.
To make sure effective training is maintained in the organization, the next important piece is the Evaluation. This will be discussed in the next blog.