Do you know your staff well enough for a successful ERP implementation?

August 9, 2015
August 9, 2015 TM Group

Do you know your staff well enough for a successful ERP implementation?

A variety of training materials can help businesses realize stronger implementations.

The financial, technical and performance considerations that come into play when a business is debating the implementation of new enterprise resource planning software often rise to the top. Because ERP involves a significant commitment in terms of spending, cost issues are regularly at the forefront of discussions and strategy sessions. Technical needs, whether the discussion centers around an on-premise system or one deployed through the cloud, are also crucial. Performance is obviously a major factor as well – businesses need to receive a high return on their investment to make their new software worth it.

All of that said, there’s one area businesses may not be considering with the appropriate level of concern for a successful ERP implementation: The feelings and the skill levels of employees throughout the organization. These individuals will be the most frequent users of a system and the ones who will help to make the software provide ROI as the months pass following the go-live date. If staff aren’t interested, excited or at least paying attention during the training efforts that will teach them how to effectively use ERP software, then it’s likely the ROI will be harmed or delayed. So how can businesses deal with this potential problem?

Start early
A surprise isn’t always welcome, and that’s especially true when it comes to changes in business processes and new workflows. Too quick of a plan for training can lead to frustration or confusion for a variety of reasons. Beyond the possibility of some staff members becoming disengaged due to the fast change, others may simply be overwhelmed. That’s especially true for the employees who will be the heaviest users of a system and see the biggest changes to their day-to-day duties.

While this problem can certainly be serious or pervasive, it’s not unsolvable. Keeping staff in the loop about the switch to a new ERP system is a good idea because it prevents some workers from potentially feeling blindsided by the change and provides more time for education. The leaders of a business and the implementation team will have time to provide some education about the theory and reasoning behind the move to a new system, to help staff understand how the software will help the company overall and make their own personal workloads more manageable. This approach can set the stage for the more practical training to follow, putting many employees in the right mindset. Only a small amount of advance planning is needed, and the results can significantly improve adoption.

Don’t neglect the differing needs of employees
One important aspect to consider in employee training is that each group of staff members will have different learning requirements, both in terms of how they learn and the requirements of their positions. For example, a staff member working on the production floor who gravitates toward visual learning will have vastly different needs than an employee working in the finance department who needs to have written material to be an effective learner.

While it’s impossible and impractical to address needs on the individual level, it’s in the best interests of a business to offer a variety of different resources. These can include training manuals, online materials offered by the maker of the software and resources developed and previously used by your company’s ERP partner. Having different learning options available in this sense doesn’t require a large amount of additional work, but it does make learning efforts more fruitful for staff and leads to an implementation that can ultimately be more effective.

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