Train Now or Later? When is the Best Time for ERP Software Training?

When is the best time for ERP trainingI have heard many theories over the years about what is the best timing for training of employees on a new manufacturing ERP software system. Most companies like to receive a good amount of training up front. However, occasionally, a company will have employees figure out as much as they can on their own before seeking help. Both methods have pros and cons. In the long run, after observing hundreds of implementations, experience has shown me that the best solution falls somewhere in the middle.

Initial training of the basics is a necessity. Everyone learns at different levels, but even the most software-intuitive user can benefit from a good introduction to the concepts and design of the software. This will turn your average user into a good and confident user, while your users who are able to pick up most of the software on their own will become your power users and potentially your internal trainers.

Another benefit of attending initial implementation training is the ability to educate your key team members across the board. Having people who understand the flow of the entire system, across departments, allows for education of employees on not only how to do their job, but also on how the things they do affect others. This becomes especially important in a fully integrated system, such as EnterpriseIQ.

There is something to be said about having users work in the system and become familiar with it before coming to class. This will allow them to build confidence in their navigation of the system and will help them start developing a list of questions they want to bring with them to training. Giving users access to the system for a few weeks before coming to class is ideal, possibly in a sandbox environment.

Problems arise when that sandbox navigation goes on for months, instead of weeks. It takes users down the path of designing their own workarounds because they don’t know how to do things properly. Bad habits are hard to break, so it is always better for users to learn how to do things correctly from the beginning.

Does this mean that every user needs to attend every class available right up front? No, that would be counterproductive. Studies show that the human brain can only absorb so much at one time. Users will only retain a percentage of what they learn. At IQMS, we use a hands-on learning approach that allows users to hear, see and touch in class. We also include repetition for key areas. These things help with retention in students, but we are also careful to deliver the correct amount of information as to not send people into overload.

This is why a tiered training experience works well for most users. Our approach is centered on the concept of building blocks. Any engineer will tell you that the best built structure is useless without a firm foundation and that is what new users need. Understanding core principles will help tie everything together down the road; skipping that step can cause that road to be a bumpy one.

Once a user has grasped a firm understanding of the basics, do we stop there? Definitely not. This is the time to add another block. The amount of time between sessions can vary from user to user. Some users will need to brush up on prior topics before moving on. This can be handled by internal trainers or by seeking topic-specific training from your software provider.

At IQMS, this is a great way to utilize our Internet-based training options, or IBTs. These quick, cost-effective sessions can be just what the doctor ordered to fill information gaps between classes or to have a quick Q&A session to reinforce concepts and ideas. Other users might be ready to move on sooner. Continuing the learning process one building block at a time is one key to attaining successful and confident users. This process should be continual. Yes, it will slow after go live, but it should never stop. Some perfect examples of times to think about post-live training are:

  • Software updates: Did you know IQMS offers free “What’s Changed” training to all users on the MyIQMS training site?
  • New module implementation: IQMS can help with anything from a module overview to full implementation assistance.
  • New customer requirements or procedure changes: When customers present you with new challenges, look to your ERP software for answers. Training can help.
  • New employees: IQMS has just the class for this event.

In conclusion, when planning, it is important to keep software training as a budget line so you are prepared when the need arises. Initial training during implementation is imperative, but even post go-live software training should be a priority. Make sure to invest in your people and the returns will be realized in their confidence, abilities and productivity.

Shannon Holloway, IQMS Director of Product Support, has been with IQMS for more than 20 years. Her roles with the company have included system analyst, customer support manager and quality assurance manager. Shannon currently oversees the IQMS technical support department.