End-User Training (EUT) is a critical yet often overlooked component of OCM strategy. Even implementing the most cutting-edge new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool – under a thorough OCM plan – risks failure if end-users are not happy or comfortable using the new system. This is where quality end-user training plays a crucial role.
Before training can begin, there are several factors to consider:
1. Crowning a Project Champion
Consider appointing a spokesperson for the project. This “project champion” will share critical information with employees – that change is coming, how it will make their jobs easier, and what they can expect moving forward. Employees will naturally have concerns as to how this change will affect their careers. To mitigate these concerns, the champion needs to explain how the ERP’s integration will resolve any headaches inherent in the current way of doing things.
2. Creating User Profiles
Before training plans can even be discussed, trainers must figure out who will be trained and what they need to know. One-size-fits-all training does not work well with a tool as complex as an ERP. To be efficient and effective, each training lesson must be custom-tailored to the jobs of the employees in each classroom. For example, casual end-users would be completely overwhelmed if they sat in a superuser class. Likewise, superusers would tune out in a class intended for basic users. So, before training can begin, a thorough audience analysis must be conducted to ensure the best blended learning strategy is adopted.
3. Managing Training Input
Request and welcome any-and-all input from superusers and SMEs – their buy-in and insider knowledge will be a key contribution to the project’s success. However, do not let these experts take over the training program. Make sure they understand, from the get-go, the format the training will follow and make sure their input fits within that framework.
4. Focusing the Message
Avoid teaching trainees what they already know – it’s the quickest way to lose the audience’s attention. When developing customized training materials, understand the end-users’ needs and then focus on addressing them. Score some bonus points by showing them how the new system quickly completes a task that they had identified as burdensome through the old system. Showcase a solution that helps them solve problems and work more efficiently.
5. Filling the Gaps
When preparing classroom materials, the various trainers need to communicate and coordinate amongst themselves openly. They must ensure that there are no obvious learning gaps – especially in places where processes are handed off between departments. If a gap is found, make sure it is filled, documented, and that the solution is agreed upon by all parties involved.
6. Creating Timeless Content
When creating training materials, try to keep the content timeless. That is, don’t reference “the old way of doing things,” just explain how the new system works. In this way, when future new hires undergo software training, they won’t be confused by references to a system that no longer exists. This method should extend the life of your training materials.
7. Taking Advantage of eLearning
While it’s no substitute for live professional training, self-guided online learning can be useful in certain instances. For example, students could be encouraged to take a basic eLearning class before in-person training starts – just as a background refresher.
8. Scheduling for Success
Here are some key considerations for scheduling training classes.
- Avoid scheduling conflicts – stressed employees do not make good students. Find the “busy times” for each group and avoid scheduling training during those periods. For example, don’t schedule accounting training during the end-of-quarter rush.
- Wait until the test system is live – for lessons to stick, they must be practiced (on a real or simulated system) within 24 hours of initial training. Regardless of the quality of training, people tend to forget skills they don’t regularly use.
- Overestimate training times – leave enough room on the schedule to accommodate any complications that may arise (i.e., power outages, sickness, etc.) during training.
Once training starts, keep these thoughts in mind:
1. Integration Is Awesome!
Integration is one of the greatest benefits of an ERP system. Information, which used to be hoarded in isolated silos, can now be freely shared across the ERP. This means, for example, if the sales team orders a box of expensive pens, receiving will automatically get a notification to keep an eye out for the package, but accounting will also be informed. So, even though integration has its benefits, employees must be aware that the information they enter could be impacting other parts of the enterprise.
2. Address Exceptions to the Rules
Most training focuses on daily situations that occur on the job. These procedures are typically obvious, logical, and follow the rules. However, that means a small percentage of operations work as exceptions to these rules; they defy logic – these situations are the ones that cause headaches. A good training program will identify and address these exceptions so that when they do arise, end-users will be ready for them.
3. Mirror Test Systems Work
If possible, always create and maintain a mirror copy of the live system to use as a training tool. There is no better host for initial end-user training, new hire training, or as a safe space to test out future system changes.
4. You Need Help
It’s important to thoroughly train help desk personnel before the system goes live. In addition to resolving common problems (i.e., opening locked user accounts), they must also be advanced enough to solve “exceptional” problems. The help desk should also set up and maintain a library of training materials, FAQs, best practices, and lessons learned – so end-users have a self-service help option.
Throughout the training process, it’s important to celebrate successes. Congratulate end-users as they meet milestones, reward those who went above and beyond to achieve mastery. Remember,” go-live day” is not the end. It’s the beginning of a smooth transition, thanks to a well-planned and executed End-User Training program.
To learn more about OCM, click here for our guide.