10 Ways Poor Training Can Cause Your ERP Implementation to Fail

It's common knowledge that training is a key reason why large-scale ERP implementations fail. Knowing the symptoms of insufficient planning, execution or poor training delivery is the first step to diagnosing the greater problem...and to ensuring that training is not a weak link when it comes to realizing the business goals of the ERP implementation.

When outside training consultants assess ERP implementations already in progress, they act very much like doctors. First they ask the patients (in this case the CIO, project teams, HR and training leads, etc.) what they are experiencing. Then they poke into a few areas looking for pain points and performance issues. They run a few tests to see if the surface symptoms match the deeper issues, and go further to uncover underlying training issues that might not yet have appeared as symptoms to the naked eye.

To complete the analogy: Most of us have a handy "medical symptoms" guide or have bookmarked a Website to help us determine if that pain in our stomach is likely appendicitis, indigestion, or something far worse. The next step is to consult your physician. In the same vein, if you believe that training is or could be affecting the output of your ERP implementation, then you should immediately contact a reputable ERP training consultant.

In the meantime, consider this your handy guide to ERP Training Symptoms.

Symptom 1: No Immediate Pulse

For large-scale implementations, such as SAP, training is often packaged as part of the original proposal. The training elements are line listed with specifics, matched to each phase on the implementation plan (in SAP R/3, this implementation plan is called ASAP). And, in the best case, this includes a plan for customizing the training plan and matching this to internal and external resources.

More often, however, training is bulleted as a vague deliverable towards the bottom of the proposal and no insights or specifics are provided as to how training will be designed, documented or delivered. Even worse, the client organization, which is spending millions of dollars on an ERP implementation and, even more importantly, is counting on the output of this system to meet key organizational goals, has no idea what percentage of their contract is allocated to training, nor of any ROI or metrics assigned to the training.

What can you do? Before you sign the contract, ask the integrators to provide allocated budget and resource details — as well as a timeline as to when the project teams will be trained and when the end-user training schedule will be provided. (Commonly this occurs when defining the business processes.) We also highly recommend you get a third-party review of this training plan and process. Think of it as a second opinion by a specialist, which is always recommended before any major operation.

Symptom 2: Empty Exercise Plans

Interviewing the line managers will help determine if the exercise plans accurately reflect what the end users will do on the job, i.e. matching real-world processes and functions, but a quick assessment of exercise plans often shows that this data is not even in place.

While starting with a template makes great sense, the template is not a plan in itself. If you are six months from pilot/rollout and these are still empty shells (in SAP terms, this would mean not having Business Process Procedures, or BPPs, in place), you will be scrambling to complete them in time for end-user training. The less time you have to do so, the less accurately they will reflect the real-world processes and procedures and the more problems you will see at post go-live.

Symptom 3: Disappearing Resources

Before every ERP implementation is funded, the organization creates a business case detailing the ROI, output and impact of the system. This document should be the measuring stick by which all decisions are made. By assessing the decision making process as go-live nears, you will often see decisions being made that are solely designed to support meeting development deliverables and not the business objectives.

An example is reallocating resources from the training teams to software project teams with no set plans to replace those resources. We also see end user training being pushed back or, worse, marginalized to a series of task-based interactions that do not provide an understanding of the new business process and when and how they interact within that process. This causes expensive training issues and delays and/or decreases the impact the ERP will have on the business.

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