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Ken Jacobsen, The TM Group Inc.

Providing the Right Motivation Ahead of Your ERP Implementation


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Here's a scenario to consider: Your organization has selected a new enterprise resource planning system and is working with a high-quality partner for the ERP implementation to ensure the software in the best way possible. Internal needs have been documented and your partner has suggested some modifications to the base platform as well as some additional components that will improve functionality. You've worked things out with your IT department and decided on either a cloud-deployed solution or one that's installed on-premise. The timeline for the project provides enough hours to deal with any complications and, after working together for months, your new ERP system is ready for use on the go-live date.

What was missing?
Despite all of these successes, there's a problem. Even when using best practices in nearly all areas to ensure a successful implementation, one critical component has been neglected - and it has nothing to do with the hardware or software, the type of deployment nor the specific software you're using, be it Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics GP, Microsoft Dynamics SL or NetSuite.

The problem is that there's been no mention of the time, effort and resources needed to effectively educate and train staff members on how to use this new software, a system that represents a significant investment on your part. The ERP software itself is ready to be used, but your employees, the ones who will use the system on a daily basis and benefit significantly from the improvements in efficiency and effectiveness, have no idea how to use it.

Of course, it's important to note that an experienced, trustworthy ERP partner must include the training of your staff in the project plan. A great partner can help a business develop and improve upon training efforts, but a lot of the work of education has to come from the internal implementation team, the leaders of various departments and executives. Generating employee engagement - in terms of convincing staff that a new system is worthwhile and benefits them as well as the company as a whole - is another important consideration that occupies a similar space.

What can be done to avoid this problem?
The simplest advice when it comes to employee education as it relates to a new system is to start planning early. Just as other aspects of a new ERP system are scheduled long before they're ready to start being utilized, so should training efforts. Starting early and finding the best times to provide training,  which also allows the inclusion follow-up efforts and more specialized training for staff who are using a particular module or component,  provides more of a cushion ahead of a new implementation. Instead of worrying whether employees will be able to grasp everything presented during a training session held a week before the go-live date, there's time to offer more intensive and thorough training to the heaviest users and to offer refreshers and extra help to those who may not have grasped everything the first time around.

Ultimately, the training process should be mapped out just like the implementation. The plan doesn't have to be particularly involved, but it should include some time to discuss the new system with staff in a general sense, as well as for more technical and specific educational effort. Leaving time shortly before and even after the go-live date to offer some additional training as needed is also an important consideration. ERP software is only as functional as the people using it, so training can't be ignored.

by The TM Group

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