Despite all the literature available to illustrate how training affects enterprise resource planning (ERP) implementations, an alarming number of organizations still don’t attend to training matters. Those organization wait until the last minute to consider training new users, or they put the task of training off on the IT department. Both strategies can have disastrous results.
ERP training should be one of the top priorities when planning an ERP implementation. Before the implementation even begins, training should be outlined and planned, and some training should be started. As the implementation progresses, so should the training, and it should continue even after the implementation is complete.
1. Training Leads to Success
Many organizations believe that users will adapt to the system after it’s in place, and therefore, training doesn’t need to be such a high priority. Consider this: more than half of the organizations that believe users will adapt with a minimum of training end up with an ERP system that is underused and, in some cases, fails completely. Training is considered one of the top five most important factors for achieving ERP implementation success.
2. Well-Trained Users Are More Productive
By some estimates, well-trained ERP users reach required skill levels in about a quarter of the time it takes users who have received only minimal training—if the less trained users ever actually get to full proficiency. In most cases, those users who are not trained well will use only the most basic aspects of the system and default to the more manual processes with which they’re more comfortable. Well-trained ERP users, however, are sometimes as much as five times more productive and capable of gaining all the value the system has to offer.
3. Training Helps Reduce Costs
Remember those lesser-trained users who revert to the old way of doing things? Those users are costing the organization far more than what the company would have paid to train those users, because manual processes are more time-consuming, and undertrained users could waste a lot of time getting help from peers or help desk personnel. Training users to take full advantage of an ERP system with a minimal amount of help, however, can help them be more proficient and more effective at tasks, freeing them—and those who may have been stuck helping them—to spend time on higher-value activities.
4. Training Helps Improve Quality
We’ve already established that users who don’t receive sufficient training often revert to the old manual processes. Unfortunately, those processes are often riddled with mistakes. To compound the problem, when some users or processes are on the old system and others are on the new system, data tend to be degraded, duplicated, or just plain wrong. Training helps ensure that all users are using the same data, and it reduces the risk of human error in processes that can be automated. The result is better-quality data and processes with less likelihood of incorrect or duplicated data instances, which improves quality overall.
5. Training Can Reduce Attrition
The stress level of users who are poorly trained is often cited as the reason those employees move on to another job. That presents two problems. First, the knowledge existing employees take with them can be invaluable; second, new employees must now be trained. Users who don’t have proper training will reject the ERP system, creating a vicious cycle that often leads to employee attrition. In contrast, great training helps employees feel competent and valuable. They may enjoy their jobs more and are less likely to seek greener pastures with other organizations.
Even though it’s common knowledge that ERP training is essential, many organizations still wait until the last minute to consider a training program. That strategy could lead to failure of the ERP system at worst and unhappy employees at best. Put a training plan in place early. It’s the one way to be sure you’re getting the most from your ERP system.
About the Author
Jerri Ledford has been writing about business technology for more than 20 years. Her articles, profiles, news stories, and reports have appeared in such venues as Intelligent Enterprise, Network World, Information Security Magazine, DCM Magazine, and CRM Magazine. She develops and teaches technology courses for enterprises such as Sony, HP, and CNET and is the author of 19 business technology books, including Google Analytics and The SEO Bible. Jerri is a Studio B analyst.