Functional User Training Mitigating Go-live Panic

In this article, learn the importance of end user training. Learn the five best practices to help ensure an effective end user training.

Table of Content

    Introduction

    This is the ninth post of a series discussing how Velosio can assist your company in completing a successful ERP implementation. If you want to review the other posts in the series, or learn more about Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) implementation and how Velosio can help, look at:

    Make Velosio Your ERP Migration and Implementation Partner

    Managing the Pre-Sale Process: Ensure Your Requirements Are Clearly Defined

    Getting Started: Preparing For an ERP Implementation

    Requirements Gathering: Determining What You Need

    Fit-Gap Analysis

    Data Migration and History Loading Streamline a Challenging Process

    Data and History Load Data Quality and An Open Mind Can Improve the Process

    Accuracy and Functionality User Testing

    End user training is one of the most important ERP implementation tasks. To abate confusion and anxiety at cut-over, ERP users need to be comfortable with both how to process the transactions to which they are assigned as well as the applicable ERP functionality.

    There are several ways to complete end user training.

    The company can elect to use “old school” type training which consists of the implementation consultant completing the training in a classroom environment using training materials provided by the ERP product. In this method, the consultant demonstrates the appropriate ERP functionality, then explains the steps needed to complete the task being reviewed. Sometimes, the training includes training “labs” (a pre-defined set of tasks to be completed by the end user) to supplement the training. This is a basic training method. If your company is small and transaction processing is simple and straight forward, this method may work for you.

    The company can also employ a “train the trainer” concept. In this method, the company identifies ERP system users (e.g., AP Manager, Accounting Manager). The consultant trains the users identified in the applicable functionality in a manner like that discussed above. The trainers are usually assigned by general system functionality (e.g., Accounts Payable, General Ledger). The idea is that the trainers (not the consultant) convene classroom or individual training in preparation for the cut-over and after the cut-over as needed.

    The advantage in using a train the trainer approach, is that the company builds a permanent training team, which understands ERP functionality and the company’s processes, thereby limiting the use of an implementation consultant during and after the go-live, saving money and streamlining post go-live training needs.

    Based on past experiences, I like using a train the trainer concept, and then improve on it by building and using a pre-prepared set of training scripts which address specific processes and tasks. The advantage of using a set of prepared test scripts is that the scripts can be built using your company’s processes and data giving the end-users a more familiar training experience.

    An experienced solution provider such as Velosio can provide sound training advice and help your company to choose the training style that best meets your needs. We’ve trained companies of all sizes and complexities and can work with your project team to deliver the most effective training method.  We can assist in building training scripts or review what your project team develops internally and provide suggestions on how to improve the finished product.

    An implementation process flow example appears below. The process flow consists of five phases. Training is part of the “Training and Testing” phase.

    Process Flow

    Best practices

    This post discusses five best practices which help ensure effective end user training, resulting in minimal disruption during and after the ERP cut-over.

    • Visible Executive ownership
    • Set up a training database
    • Build a competent training team
    • Use the ERP testing scripts as the basis of the training materials
    • Build a post go-live training process to increase training efficiency

    Visible executive ownership

    Visible executive ownership is the number one success driver across all ERP implementation phases. Executive support has a direct impact on the training process. Review your training plans with executive team members and be sure to explain how thorough training reduces the number (and costs) of implementation consultant call-backs after go-live.

    Lobby to have an adequate amount of time and resources assigned to the training effort. Be sure that the executive team understands that shortcutting training is risky and, in the end, probably more expensive. Make sure the executive team is aware of the training cost in terms of both resources, time and dollars. If warranted, discuss the negative impact of issues such as recurring process errors and the resulting lost time in correcting inaccurate data.

    Set up a training database

    The usual ERP implementation plan includes the setting up of several system databases. Build a separate training database to process training transactions. Build the training database via copying the configuration database after the initial design configuration and sample data/history loading has been completed and reconciled.

    Using the configuration database as the basis for the training database ensures that training is completed using the agreed upon configuration, as well as vendors, customers and GL accounts which were previously test loaded, making the training process easier by using data familiar to the trainee.

    Don’t skimp on the number of databases. It’s nearly impossible to complete all of the required implementation tasks in a timely manner using a single, or even two databases. ERP implementations are based on sets of tasks being completed in a structured order. If you don’t have a sufficient number of databases available, implementation task completion becomes compressed, tasks overlap, compete against each other, and data can become corrupt.

    This situation has a decidedly negative impact on implementation quality. In the case of training, the effects can be major. Velosio implementation consultants can easily copy and set up additional databases so there is really no reason to cut corners here.

    Build a competent training team

    If using a train, the trainer concept, be careful in selecting the trainers. The trainers should be experienced in the processes for which they are training. This doesn’t mean just getting trained in the new ERP functionality. It also means that the trainer should have both a practical knowledge of the process as well as an understanding of the applicable functionality. For example, a senior accountant or an accounting manager would be an excellent choice for GL training. Usually, the trainers also function as an ERP “super user” after the cut-over to address user questions and resolve issues.

    Being a trainer is not only about experience. The trainer needs to be able to clearly present the training materials to the end-users and should be comfortable instructing in a classroom or “one on one” environment. Since the trainer takes ownership of the training materials, they should be able to complete such tasks as building and maintaining the training materials when needed.

    To help ensure that you can acquire and support the best talent for the trainer role, make training an important part of a trainer’s performance incentive plan.

    Use the ERP testing scripts as the basis of the training materials

    During an ERP implementation, a lot of time and effort has been spent gathering requirements and completing the Fit/Gap analysis. These documents contain a wealth of information which are used in building functional test scripts.

    For example, the requirements document identifies major processes to be tested and provides some clarity as to process importance. Review the requirements, responses and the associated test script examples below to understand the relationship between requirements, responses and the test scripts.

    End user training

    End user training

     

    Using an experienced software solution provider such as Velosio helps to ensure that a quality set of requirements and Fit/Gap documents are prepared. Essentially, you can use the same requirements data and test scripts as the basis of your training materials. You can use the spreadsheets as is, or you can tailor them to meet your specific requirements.

    In the example below, the training materials have been modified to include only training related information and provide a field to document any training issues. The process issues are used by the trainer to correct any training errors and to update the training materials as required.

    End user training

    Monitor training activity to support training efficiency

    Training success depends on organization and attention to detail. In my mind’s eye, you can’t successfully train ERP end-users by having the implementation consultant provide basic “over the shoulder” training. If you use this approach, you’ll never know if your training is effective and that the associated system transaction processing will be completed correctly after cut-over.

    Understanding system functionality and transaction processing can only be accomplished via the trainee completing the training steps over and over until they’re comfortable. This is where over the shoulder training falls short, and why having a set of training materials available that reflect your processes, and a dedicated training database is important, especially for an infrequently used process.

    Build a monitoring process to ensure that the trainees are getting the most from the training process. Build training schedules and ensure that they are being adhered to. Quiz the trainees by having them complete the processes while you observe to gauge their progress.

    Build a monitoring process to ensure that the trainees are getting the most from the training process. Build training schedules and ensure that they are being adhered to. Quiz the trainees by having them complete the processes while you observe to gauge their progress.

    Again, use our implementation consultant expertise to help your company build an effective and repeatable training experience.

    Conclusion

    Thorough ERP training is key in mitigating cut-over anxiety, as using adequately trained users reduces the number of errors and makes the cut-over process proceed more smoothly.

    Use Velosio’s implementation and training expertise to help ensure successful training results and a system cut-over that meets the company’s expectations. Remember, sound training processes can help ensure that no cutover surprises occur, and that each process functions “as advertised”.

    Finally, training doesn’t end after the implementation. ERP updates, new functionality introduced, and team member changes require a robust training plan which is properly maintained and regularly updated. Take end user training seriously and enjoy the benefits of a well-trained staff.