It is that time of year when kids start heading back to school. This is not a normal year though. Depending on your region, school may take a different form this time. It could be entirely virtual classes, in-person teaching with social distancing, or a hybrid approach mixing the two. We are in a unique situation and learning has new challenges like everything else. Learning also needs to happen for ERP users. Now is a good time to talk about new ERP learning challenges too.
In the ERP world, learning and training falls under 3 main scenarios:
- Major Releases/Upgrades
- New Employees
The first scenario of a Go-Live involves the greatest amount of training for the largest groups of users. Typically, a brand-new ERP system will require moderate training for infrequent users such as frontline employees using HR or Travel & Expense systems. There may need to be extended training for all regular users like in Finance or Supply Chain. Extensive in-depth training may be required for power-users such as Supervisors and Managers running reports or complex transactions. Finally, the ERP tech support staff could spend months learning new configurations and SDKs (software development kits). As the levels of training increase, so too must the duration and depth while class sizes decrease.
Go-live training will be impacted in many locations by the inability to conduct in-person training sessions. As an alternative, organizations are turning to virtual meetings to conduct training. Teachers can no longer walk around the room and see how people are making progress, so screensharing will become a new key tool to ensure progress is made. The classic testing approach is also key. Users must be tested in an ERP training environment to ensure comprehension. Given the challenges of virtual learning and potential distractions, it is advisable to be generous with timing on tests and allow retries. When dealing with broad user groups there are varied learning rates. As needed, follow up focused training can help those that need more hands-on assistance.
Major release or upgrade training will be similarly impacted, though the number of users may be limited to the particular areas that are seeing significant changes. For areas with more limited impacts, ERP training documents could be distributed without any meetings for self-learning. Release notes may serve a similar purpose. New employees can be trained without virtual group meetings in more of a 1:1 basis. Assigning a senior team member to them as a mentor could help accelerate the process. You can leverage much of the ERP training content from Go-Live and Upgrades as well. Look to use recordings and documentation as long as they are still up to date. If you are close to standard, look to vendor provided training materials. Note that this may hurt more than help where high customization exists.
Virtual learning is not ideal for most users, but by coming up with an action plan based on the level of training needed for the particular scenario you can find success.
For more information on ERP Training and Change Management, see my recent Gartner research note Lead Change Management for ERP With Gartner’s ESCAPE Model (subscription required)