Top 7 Essential Steps for Developing an ERP Training Plan for Your Organization's New System Implementation

Written By: Eric Kimberling
Date: February 5, 2024

Implementing a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system in your organization significantly enhances efficiency and streamlining processes. 

However, the success of an ERP system largely depends on how well your employees are trained to leverage these new opportunities. Here's a guide on how to effectively train your employees on a new ERP system.

To begin, it's critical to understand the positioning of training within a project. 

ERP Training vs. Organizational Change Management

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Training and Organizational Change Management (OCM) are two critical components in implementing significant organizational changes, such as introducing new technologies, processes, or cultural shifts. While interrelated and often occur simultaneously, they have distinct objectives and methodologies. Understanding the differences and how they complement each other is crucial for a successful transformation.

Training should be a piece of a much larger organizational change initiative. Training is not OCM

ERP Training

Training enhances employees' skills, knowledge, and competencies to perform specific tasks or use new tools effectively. In the context of organizational change, training typically involves:

  1. Skill Development or Up-skilling: Educating employees on how to use new systems, technologies, or processes.
  2. Knowledge Transfer: Providing information about new procedures, policies, or operational changes.
  3. Performance Enhancement: Ensuring employees can perform their roles effectively under the new system or structure.

Critical aspects of training include:

  • Content: Focused on specific tasks or processes.
  • Method: This can include workshops, seminars, e-learning, manuals, and hands-on practice.
  • Outcome: Measured by the increased ability of employees to perform specific tasks or use new systems.

Organizational Change Management

OCM, on the other hand, is a broader concept. It involves managing the people side of change to achieve the desired business outcomes. OCM encompasses:

  1. Preparing for Change: Starting with assessing the readiness through OCM assessments and creating awareness about the upcoming changes and their reasons.
  2. Managing the Transition: Helping employees navigate the change, addressing concerns directly, and ensuring a smooth transition.
  3. Reinforcing Change: Establishing mechanisms to sustain the change, such as ongoing support, feedback loops, and success recognition.

Key aspects of OCM include:

  • Focus: Concerned with the human aspects of change - attitudes, feelings, and behaviors.
  • Method: Involves communication strategies, stakeholder engagement, leadership alignment, and resistance management.
  • Outcome: Measured by successfully adopting the change and achieving the intended business benefits.

Interrelation and Complementarity

While training and OCM have different focal points, they are deeply interconnected and often rely on each other for success:

  • ERP Training as a Part of OCM: Effective OCM recognizes that training is critical. Employees need to be skilled and knowledgeable to embrace change.
  • OCM Enhancing Training: OCM efforts can create a conducive environment for training by addressing resistance, fostering a positive attitude towards change, and ensuring alignment with organizational goals.

In summary, while training equips employees with the necessary skills and knowledge for specific changes, OCM is about managing the overall impact of change on people and the organization. Both are essential for successful change initiatives, and their effectiveness is greatly enhanced when thoughtfully integrated. A well-executed OCM plan supports the technical aspects of change, such as training, and addresses the emotional and psychological aspects, leading to a more comprehensive and lasting impact.

Now that we've established the relationship between training and organizational change management, let's dig into the nuances of 

Understanding the Importance of ERP Training

Before diving into the training process, it's crucial to understand why training is vital. An ERP system is complex and can be overwhelming for employees who are used to different processes. Proper training not only familiarizes them with the new system but also helps in reducing resistance to change.

Step 1: Assess Training Needs

Start by assessing the training needs of your employees. Some people will require different levels of training. Identify the different user groups within your organization and understand their specific roles in using the ERP system. This approach ensures that each group receives relevant training.

Step 2: Develop an ERP Training Plan

Develop a comprehensive training plan covering all ERP system aspects relevant to each user group. Your plan should include:

  • Timeline: Set a realistic timeline for the training sessions.
  • Methodology: Decide on the training methods (e.g., in-person, online tutorials, webinars).
  • Content: Ensure the training material is relevant and easy to understand.
  • Trainers: Identify who will conduct the training - in-house experts or external consultants.

Step 3: Develop ERP Training Content

Understand how your audience will best leverage the assets. Assess what type of content will be more impactful. 

  • Interactive Content: Interactive content like simulations or hands-on workshops can be very effective for complex or critical systems.
  • Visual Aids: Flowcharts, infographics, and videos can help simplify complex concepts, especially for visual learners.
  • Written Documentation: Detailed guides and manuals are essential for reference, especially for processes that are used infrequently.
  • Webinars and Online Tutorials: These are useful for reaching a large audience, particularly in geographically dispersed organizations.
  • Gamification: Incorporating game-like elements can enhance engagement and learning, especially for mundane or repetitive topics.
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Step 4: Conduct the ERP Training

When conducting the training, focus on:

  • Hands-on Experience: Provide practical sessions where employees can interact with the ERP system.
  • Real-Life Scenarios: Use examples and scenarios your employees will likely encounter.
  • Feedback Sessions: Regular feedback sessions help in addressing issues and doubts.

Step 5: Use a Phased Approach

Implement the training in phases. Start with basic functionalities and gradually move to more complex features. This phased approach helps employees to absorb and understand the system better.

Step 6: Provide Continuous Support

Post-training support is crucial. Set up a support system where employees can get help when they face difficulties. This can be in the form of a helpdesk, online resources, or regular follow-up training sessions.

Step 7: Monitor and Evaluate

Regularly monitor how employees are using the ERP system and evaluate the effectiveness of the training. Use surveys, interviews, and system usage data to assess and make necessary adjustments to the training program.

  • Learning Management Systems (LMS): Utilize LMS for tracking progress, providing e-learning modules, and enabling self-paced learning.
  • Analytics: Use analytics to gauge engagement levels and the effectiveness of different content types.
Best Practices
  • Customize Training: Customize the training content based on the specific needs of different user groups.
  • Encourage Engagement: Encourage employees to participate actively during training sessions through interactive activities.
  • Update Training Materials: Keep the training materials updated with any changes in the ERP system.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate when teams or individuals successfully implement what they've learned.

What Role Should Vendors and System Integrators play in ERP Training? 

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The involvement of vendors in the training process of new systems or technologies within an organization can be a double-edged sword. While vendors are experts in their products and can provide valuable insights, there are several reasons why they should not be the primary source of training for employees. Here's an explanation of why vendors might not be the best choice for leading training initiatives:

Lack of Customization

  • Generic Approach: Vendors typically offer standard training that covers the broad capabilities of their product. This approach might not align with the specific needs or processes of your organization.
  • Missing Organizational Context: Vendors may not understand the unique challenges, culture, or business processes of your organization, which can lead to a mismatch between training content and actual on-the-job application.

Potential Bias

  • Product-Centric Focus: Vendors are primarily focused on their product's features and benefits, which can lead to a biased perspective that emphasizes capabilities over practical, everyday use.
  • Upselling: There's a risk that training sessions become opportunities for vendors to upsell additional features or services, which can detract from the core learning objectives.

While vendors can provide valuable input and foundational knowledge about their products, relying solely on them for employee training is not advisable. Training should be aligned with the organization’s specific needs, culture, and long-term strategy. Developing internal training capabilities, possibly supplemented by vendor support, ensures a more sustainable, cost-effective, and customized learning experience for employees.

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Training your employees on a new ERP system is not just about teaching them how to use new software; it's about guiding them through a change in your organization's processes and culture. A well-planned and executed training program is key to ensuring a smooth transition and getting the best return on your ERP investment. Remember, the goal is not just to train but to empower your employees to use the ERP system efficiently and confidently.

If you have questions or feedback regarding this, please feel free to reach out to me directly. I am always excited to hear from our audience. If you'd like to engage more with Third Stage, I invite you to subscribe to our YouTube channel and follow our weekly podcasts. I also highly recommend downloading our 2024 Digital Enterprise Operations Report for a playbook of digital transformation best practices and proven methodologies.

Kimberling Eric Blue Backgroundv2
Eric Kimberling

Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.

Eric Kimberling
Eric is known globally as a thought leader in the ERP consulting space. He has helped hundreds of high-profile enterprises worldwide with their technology initiatives, including Nucor Steel, Fisher and Paykel Healthcare, Kodak, Coors, Boeing, and Duke Energy. He has helped manage ERP implementations and reengineer global supply chains across the world.
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