Tips for Successful ERP Training

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Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient. They embark on a project to implement a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to replace their legacy tools. The company spends months, maybe even years, working with consultants and employees to define new processes and customize the systems. Come launch time, they don’t provide adequate training and the employees don’t know how to use the new systems effectively. This leads to costly mistakes, wasted time, lost revenue, and many stressed out employees.

ERP implementations are typically large-scale projects with many stakeholders and moving parts; creating training for these projects comes with their own set of unique challenges. Planning for these challenges up front can help ensure you have a successful training program that plays a crucial role in the smooth rollout of a new system. Here are some important things to consider before you embark on your next ERP implementation training project.

Plan and prioritize training

Implementing and customizing an ERP system tends to be a huge financial investment, and as such, detailed proposals and plans are created to cover all aspects of the project. However, training for the new system is often listed as a vague deliverable that provides no specifics about how training will be designed or delivered. Not planning for training from the get-go is a costly mistake because the investment in a new system is wasted if the employees can’t properly use it. Include the training team in the project planning phase and allocate the appropriate budget, resources, and timelines for end-user training.

Identify training methods

You’re going to want to think about training methods up-front, during the planning phase. One of the most effective way to give learners a real world experience without risking costly mistakes in a real ERP system is through software simulations. They give employees the power to explore and use all the features of the ERP software they’ll use in the workplace. You’re probably going to want to consider at least some software simulations for ERP systems training. You might mix this with some instructor led training and live Q&A sessions to create a blended learning program.

Create curriculum by role

You’re not going to dump all the lessons on every employee; the employees who work in Engineering don’t need to take Accounting lessons on how to process an invoice. Instead, you’re going to tailor the curriculum by user roles. While you may have some core basic lessons that apply to everyone (logging in and out of the system, setting up your user profile, etc.), there should also be user-specific lessons that are pertinent to each role.

Work with the business

Training teams working on ERP implementations often find they have to work alongside the implementation team. You might find it useful to work with the business process analysts, as they create and test the new system processes (these are often called Standard Operating Procedures, or SOPs). Consider using test scripts as a starting point for training development.  

Designate power users

For each role you identify, consider having one or two power users. These are (hopefully) helpful, quality employees who can help with the training and answer employee questions on-the-job. If there are employees who are already involved in the implementation, for example working as subject matter experts, these are great candidates for power users.

Incorporate real-life scenarios

Integrating real world examples and stories into your processes will make the training more practical and relevant. Instead of jumping into a step-by-step process without providing any context, introduce the process with a scenario that has realistic background information and details. Training that incorporates realistic scenarios helps learners know when and how to apply the tasks covered in the training in the real world.

Use change management techniques

Incorporating some basic change management techniques will go a long way to getting your learners on board. Be clear in explaining the benefits of the training, why it’s happening, and the impact of not completing it. Don’t assume end users will move seamlessly from one system to another, without detailing the specific reasons and benefits.

Following these tips will help ensure you have a successful ERP training program in place. Do you have any tips of your own for designing or developing training for ERP implementations? Let me know in the comments, and follow me on Twitter for more e-learning tips and tricks.

 

Working Remotely: How to Travel & Be a Productive Employee

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Have you ever wished you could pack your bags and work from a cafe in Paris for a month? Wouldn’t it be cool to rent a studio in NYC and spend weekends exploring Central Park? If you’re lucky enough to work remotely, these kinds of adventures may be within your purview. Over the last 4 years I’ve been extremely lucky to go on several extended “workations” since working for the software company Articulate. Most people in the training industry know the Articulate name, but few realize that the company is fully distributed. Being a completely remote organization means there’s not a single office anywhere, every employee works from home, with staff in the US, Canada, Australia, Europe, and beyond.

Working remotely has its pros and cons, but a major pro is not being tied to a specific locale, providing a unique opportunity to have a fulfilling career and a nomadic lifestyle. When you work remotely, it typically doesn’t matter where you physically do the work, as long as as you get the job done. Since I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel and work remotely myself quite a few times now, I’d like to share a few of the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.

Before You Travel

Find The Proper Accommodations

Find a Proper Workspace

Having a proper workspace is important for getting work done efficiently. Before you book a hotel room or select a home away from home on AirBNB, it’s a good idea to verify the space has a proper work setup in terms of a desk or table and a decent chair. It’s a lot more difficult to be productive when you’re slouched over a laptop in bed or on a sofa, not to mention it’s bad for your posture!

Investigate the Internet Situation

Internet is crucial for remote work. Without it, you can’t download files, attend online meetings, and carry out many other crucial tasks. When you’re planning to work remotely, you’ll want to give some thought to the internet situation as all cities are not created equal in terms of internet connectivity and speeds. Before you book your accommodations it’s a good idea to ask specific questions:  How reliable is the wifi? What are the upload and download speeds? Where is the modem located, and can I reset it myself?

You might also consider purchasing a hot spot so you have a backup if the internet is sucky or unreliable. One more tip: it’s wise to scout out nearby shops or cafes that offer free wifi, in case you’re really stuck.

Pack the right stuff

You’ll want to bring everything you need but remember that less is more when you have to carry stuff from one country to another. Some of the basics you’ll want to bring to be a productive worker:

  • smartphone
  • lightweight laptop
  • wireless mouse
  • international adapter
  • extension cord
  • e-reader
  • headphones (with attached mic)

In addition to these basics you may also want to consider a USB key, chargers and extra batteries for your devices, pens & paper, and any other tools or gadgets you need to get your work done.

Get travel health insurance

Imagine this: you’re in a foreign country and you’re injured in an accident. You find yourself in a hospital and before you know it your hospital bills are in the tens of thousands. Travel health insurance will ensure that you don’t end up a situation where you have to pay that bill out of pocket or be indebted for years to come.

If you’re an employee you may already have travel health insurance through your benefits. Check with the Human Resources department and identify if you have it. You also need to familiarize yourself with the terms and conditions of your policy. Travel insurance policies typically prescribe a maximum limit of days you can be insured while out of the country. If you’re travelling for longer than the prescribed period, you’ll need to pay a top up to ensure you’re covered the entire time you’re travelling. You can purchase travel insurance through an insurance broker, a travel agent, your employer’s insurance provider, or perhaps even your credit card company. The important thing is to make sure you have it before you go!

While You Travel

Pay attention to cyber security

Be wary of public wifi connections

More and more shops and cafes offer free wifi but it’s important to remember that such connections tend to be highly unsecure networks that are accessible to everyone. Information that you send through these networks can more easily be intercepted, so it’s important not to transmit secure or private information through these wifi connections.

Identity thieves even create fake Wifi access points that use authentic looking names. Once you’re connected to their system, you’re vulnerable to attack and your information can easily be compromised.

Never leave devices unattended

Seems obvious but it’s important to remember that you shouldn’t leave your devices unattended anywhere. While you’re travelling, make sure your devices are kept in your carry-on bags so that you can keep an eye on them at all times and avoid damage.

Enable two-factor authentication

Two-factor authentication is a safety measure that requires a user to provide two authentication factors to confirm who they are. Enabling two-factor authentication on all your devices and applications will add an additional layer of security.

Be a good remote co-worker

Be responsive and communicative

If you’re lucky enough to get to travel while you work, it can be easy for people to assume you’re always off having fun. This may not be a fair assumption, but it’s one of the reasons that it’s even more important to be responsive and communicative while you’re working remotely. Be early or on time for all your meetings, respond to emails and questions promptly, and don’t ever use your travels as a reason that you can’t get something done at work.

Create a routine

It’s important to create a routine for yourself and let your coworkers know when and how they can get in touch with you when they need you. Depending on time-zones you might not be working the exact same schedule as everyone else on your team but regardless of that it’s good to be reliable and available during certain core hours so others know when to expect a response.

These are just some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned from my remote travels over these last few years. Do you have any tips of your own for travelling and being a productive remote employee? Let me know in the comments!

How to Organize, Analyze, and Prioritize Tasks for E-Learning

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The One Thing You Need To Do To Organize Training Content: Task Analysis

Are you dealing with a huge pile of raw materials that need to be converted into an e-learning course or training programme? If so, you’re likely wondering how best to organize the content and filter out the need-to-know from the nice-to-know. If this sounds familiar to you, you need to acquaint yourself with the process of task analysis. Discover how a proper task analysis can organize your content so it focuses on what learners need to know on-the-job.

Read full article.

How to do a Task Analysis Like a Pro

As I explain in this article, task analysis is one of the cornerstones of instructional design. Why is task analysis so important? The purpose of training is to teach learners how TO DO something; they should walk away from the training with new knowledge and skills they can apply on-the-job. When you focus on tasks, you’re more likely to accomplish this goal, as you’re focusing on the actual processes the learners will do on the job.  A task analysis is the process of systematically breaking down a task into a documented step-by-step process. This article explains how to first identify tasks, then break them down into sub-tasks, and finally, parse them into steps. It also contains some helpful task analysis dos and don’ts.

Read full article.

Instructional Designers: Remember These Factors When Prioritizing Tasks

Once you’ve completed your task analysis, you’re going to need to organize and prioritize all the tasks you’ve analyzed. How should you order your tasks? This depends on a variety of factors: task importance, task frequency, task difficulty, and learner experience. Learn about these four factors and what you need to know to ensure your content focuses on the right tasks.

Read full article.

Have you ever done a task analysis before? If so, how did it go? Do you have any tips or tricks to share with others? If so, please leave me a comment below, I love to hear feedback.

 

Working Remotely: My Top 5 Tips For Being a Productive Employee

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I’ve been working remotely for several years now, and I’ve learned a thing or two along the way. Do I love working remotely? Heck yes! Are there pitfalls? Of course. As is the case with most things in life, there are both pros and cons to working from home. Some pros: I have control over my schedule and hours of work, and I have zero commute, which saves me a lot of time and money. The cons? Working remotely can be socially isolating, and you must be a self-starter who is able to consistently produce results.

Here are my top 5 tips for being a productive remote employee:

Be motivated

Make no mistake, working from home is NOT for everyone. If you’re the type of employee who needs a lot of direction, or who enjoys being constantly surrounded by others, working from home is probably not for you. On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes flexibility, and who is motivated to get the job done, then remote work is probably right up your alley.

My motivation comes from the fact that I love the work I do every day, and I love the organization that I do it for. It’s not hard to be productive when that’s the case. I’m not sure it’s possible to simply “become” motivated, I think it’s a mix of personality trait and of being lucky enough to find work you are truly passionate about.

Have a routine

Humans are creatures of habit; routines give us comfort and stability. This is why it’s a good idea to have a work-day routine that you follow consistently. It also helps make you more predictable and available to team-mates, who quickly get a sense for your rhythm and daily pace.

In my case, I make a point of waking up and starting my day at the office at the same time every morning. I have my coffee, and listen to the same news channel every day while I work. I also have a routine for the first few hours of my day; I get the small, daily tasks that need to be complete out of the way bright and early, so I can concentrate on more important tasks and projects throughout the rest of the day.

Be social

It’s quite easy to get into an anti-social routine when you’re working from home, so it’s important to take active steps to get out of the house and socialize with other human beings. Even if you’re an introvert, humans are social creatures who need to have daily interactions with other people to stay healthy and positive.

I sometimes go to the local Starbucks for an hour or two with my laptop and work from the comfy couches, and people watch as I get my work done. Alternatively, one of my girlfriends works from home one day a week, so sometimes we’ll get together, either at my place or hers, and we’ll do our work side-by-side. Even though we don’t work for the same organization, it’s just nice to have someone to share ideas and chit-chat with.

Being social doesn’t have to occur strictly during business hours. If you’re working from home and socializing less during your workweek, consider taking on more social extracurricular activities, like joining a sports team or a book club.

Get dressed

I won’t lie, it’s nice to have the option to wear your comfy sweats or your pajamas all day… but truth be told, I feel better about myself when I’m showered and nicely dressed. I also have a lot of nice, business-y clothes and can’t stand the thought of not letting most of my wardrobe see the light of day. That being said, I like to get dressed every morning before I sit down at my desk. I also feel better about myself when I want to run out for errands or hit the gym if I don’t look like I just rolled directly out of bed.

Have an office space

It doesn’t even need to be an entire room just a proper desk will do, although I must say, having an entire separate room which acts as my office is an awesome perk for me. When I step into the office I step into work-mode and I can focus on the tasks at hand.

I can’t speak for anybody else, but I feel MUCH more productive when I’m seated at my desk, in a proper desk chair, with my keyboard, mouse, and large monitor in front of me, versus when I’m slouched on my sofa with my laptop on my lap. It might just be me, but sitting at my proper desk makes a huge difference in my productivity.

Reap the benefits

There are advantages to working from home… some of these benefits may include the ability to work from just about anywhere in the world, or the option of running your errands during the day, while most people are stuck in the office and the stores are quiet. So if you work from home, take advantage of the perks! If you’re working hard and getting your job done, there’s no need to feel guilty about reaping the benefits of your work-from-home situation.

These are five of the top things I’ve learned since I’ve been working for a remote organization for a few years now. Have you ever worked remotely? Do you prefer remote work, or working in an office? Share your comments below, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for more tips, tricks, and e-learning advice every day!

4 Reasons You Don’t Have an E-Learning Portfolio

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I find it surprising when an e-learning developer tells me they don’t have a portfolio. In certain industries, such as web design and graphic design, you simply can’t be viewed as a legitimate business person without a portfolio; I believe e-learning is also one of those industries. When I get asked for advice on hiring a great e-learning developer, my top recommendation is always: Don’t hire someone without seeing their portfolio.

If you don’t have an e-learning portfolio, you probably have a reason. But if your reason is listed below, you should reconsider and remember that you’re working in a competitive, global market, where anyone can create a free blog or portfolio website in a few minutes.

You’re Too Busy

The “I’m too busy” excuse is the most common and most overused. You’re too busy to put time into creating something that could well hold the key to your success and potential future earnings? Your call.

Why this isn’t a good reason: Everyone has the same number of hours in the day. Bottom line is: if something is truly a priority, you will make time for it. If it’s not a priority, you won’t. Potential clients don’t care about how busy your life is; they care about hiring a candidate who can show work that is up to their standard and get the job done.

You Don’t Have Any Experience

Maybe you do have the time but you’re new to the e-learning industry and have zero real-world experience or projects.

Why this isn’t a good reason: First of all, don’t advertise this fact to potential clients. For many people “zero experience” equates to “lacking skills and credibility.”. If you don’t have any real world projects to add to your portfolio, don’t despair: create your own samples. Choose a topic that you’re a passionate about and develop a mini e-learning module. Which leads me to my next point…

You Don’t Own E-Learning Software

I’ve heard many people say the following: “I can’t create samples for a portfolio because I don’t own any e-learning authoring tools.”

Why this isn’t a good reason: Just about every authoring tool out there offers a free, fully-functional 30-day trial. Take advantage of that and use your 30-days wisely! Create a few mini 5-slide e-learning courses that showcase your skills. Another option: Powerpoint! So many people have access to this but don’t take advantage of it to create awesome e-learning; you can even hyperlink slides to create branched scenarios and create engaging samples.

You Signed an NDA

This is one I’ve heard quite a few times: “I’ve done a lot of awesome things, but I can’t share any of it because I signed a nondisclosure agreement.”

Why this isn’t a good reason: Anyone can say they’ve created great e-learning, but at the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. Of course you should never share confidential materials you’ve signed an NDA for, but there’s no harm in asking a client beforehand if you can use a sample of work, stripped of original content and identifying information, for your portfolio. This is a standard procedure in other industries, and often the request is included directly in the contract of work. If you can’t use any of the work you’ve signed an NDA for, don’t panic: you can still create your own samples!

The e-learning industry is getting more competitive by the week and potential clients want a candidate who can demonstrate their skills and abilities, instead of taking a gamble on someone with nothing to show. Don’t give potential clients or employers a reason to pass you over: create that portfolio today!

I’d love to hear your thoughts: are these legitimate reasons for not having a portfolio? Are there other reasons that I left out? Leave a comment below and let me know. Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, as well in the E-Learning Heroes community, for all the latest.

Quick Tip For Organizing Your E-Learning Samples

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Every week I create new e-learning demos in my role as Community Manager for the software company Articulate. When I help out community members in the E-Learning Heroes forums I often like to share some of these demos to help illustrate a point or demonstrate a type of interaction. Some of these demos were created over a year ago, and I noticed I had a problem: I didn’t have an easy place to quickly access all of my published samples.

I do have an online portfolio, but it desperately needs updating, and typically a portfolio only contains the crème de la crème of e-learning work, not all of the short little samples and demos.  Much of the e-learning content I create isn’t exactly “portfolio-worthy”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a valuable example that can’t be helpful for others.

I do also have a “Projects” folder where I keep all the project and published output files for my demos. But what I didn’t have is what I would a “visual repertoire” of my courses where I could easily see them all and access one by clicking on a quick link.

I recently solved this problem quite easily using a simple table in a Google Docs file. Here’s a sample of what it looks like:

Demos

Now my e-learning demos are all organized in one neat table with titles, thumbnail image, description, and link to published output. This has saved me a lot of time of searching through folders looking for the right link. The fact that it’s a Google Doc means it’s always available to me wherever I am, as long as I have internet access. Just wanted to share this quick tip with you! Now if I could just get around to updating my portfolio…

Do you have tips of your own for keeping all of your demo files and e-learning samples organized and easily accessible? If you do, leave a comment below — I’d love to hear your tips or tricks. And since you got all the way to the end of this article, you might want to subscribe to my blog!

Tips for Making the Most of Industry Conferences

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I’ve recently returned from attending my second major industry event, the Learning Solutions Conference (LSCon 2014) in sunny Orlando, Florida. As my regular readers know, I use my blog to chronicle my learning experiences, so I wanted to share my experience at LSCon 2014 here. Conferences and industry events can either be a big giant bore, or a great opportunity to make connections and learn new information. It’s up to you to decide which approach you want to take; I’ve taken the latter approach for both conferences I’ve attended, and they’ve both been great learning experiences for me.

Learning Solutions is an annual event that showcases new technologies for e-learning  delivery. It was an exciting and busy week; I got to participate in the conference in more ways than one. For starters, I manned (womaned?) the Articulate booth at the expo for the full two days alongside some of my awesome Articulate co-workers. I  also had the opportunity to present a 45-minute stage session (Use Articulate Storyline to Create Engaging Scenarios for E-Learning) which was very well attended. Last but not least, I was a participant in the SolutionsFest e-learning demo exhibition where I shared an e-learning project I created featuring the Articulate Weekly E-Learning Challenge. On top of that, I got to meet so many familiar faces that I’ve been chatting with through social media for years (I’m talking to you Patti Shank, Tim Slade and Mark Sheppard!). Needless to say, it was a busy and engaging event for me!

I am writing about this conference because despite the fact that industry-type events can get a reputation for being dry or boring, I really think that these types of conferences are a great life experience for young professionals like me who have so much to see and learn. There are so many new learning experiences involved in attending an event or conference: the travel, the professional development, the socializing.

Here’s a few simple tips, based on my personal experience, that work well for making the most of your next event.

Participate In The Event

The best way to get the most out of a conference is to participate in it. For LSCon 2014 I was lucky because, since I work for Articulate  (who was a sponsor of the event) I got to attend on their behalf and I got to present on the stage on their behalf. However, in the past, I’ve also submitted my own ideas for sessions and I have been accepted and presented as an individual. One of the benefits of participating in the event is the often speakers and presenters get to attend the conference for free or at a discounted rate. Some of the big events can be quite pricey, and when you factor in travel and hotel costs, being accepted as a speaker can determine whether or not some individuals attend the conference at all.

This has been the case for me in the past. In 2012, I was encouraged by one of my mentors to attend DevLearn, and I was eager to attend my first conference and find out what it was all about. My boss at the time told me I could go to the conference, but only if I was accepted as a speaker and my Registration costs were covered. So I submitted three session ideas and one of them was selected (Training Needs Analysis: Would You Like Fries With That Training?). I was SO excited when I got the e-mail. That’s how I got to attend my first ever conference, DevLearn 2012 in Las Vegas. So if you can find any way to participate, whether it’s presenting a session, sharing a case study or example, or even co-presenting with someone else, try to do it. Presenting is also a nice way to gain exposure, gain credibility and expertise, and get practice with public speaking.

Network and Meet New People

I think a lot of people make the mistake of milling around the conference alone, or sticking with their friends or co-workers, and not taking the opportunity to make new connections. Sure you might feel a bit awkward the first few times you introduce yourself to someone brand new, but others won’t think you’re weird: this is a normal part of being at a conference! Most people attending these events, in my experience, will have their business cards at the ready and will be happy to share what they do for a living and why they are attending.

If you’re a bit shy or nervous about meeting new people, here’s a good way to help break the ice: use social media to your advantage!  It’s easy to use social media to get to know people in your industry ahead of time through channels such as Twitter, the Articulate community forums, or LinkedIn. This way, when it comes time to meet some of these connections at an event, it’s less intimidating because you already feel like you know them. When I attended DevLearn, I used Twitter and the conference hash-tag to meet up with a group of other attendees who were there solo and we all went out for dinner and drinks as a group and had a great time!

Find Out What’s New

An industry conference or event is a great learning opportunity and a chance to get some insights into what the next “big thing” in your industry will be all about. Take this as a chance to identify new trends and technologies that are relevant to you and your job, and that you should know about. Be pro-active about your learning and career development; before you attend, look over the schedule and identify the sessions that you’re interested in attending.

Here’s a tip: try going to sessions that you don’t know anything about or that will teach you something brand new, instead of sticking to what’s familiar and what you’re already comfortable with. Challenge yourself!

Those are three tips I’ve learned through personal experience for making the most of business conferences, trade shows and industry events. One last thing: I really think having a positive approach and optimistic outlook is a key part of the equation. We all know about self-fulfilling prophecies. If you believe you will learn new things and make new connections, chances are, you probably will!

Do you have any tips or experiences about a conference or event you’ve attended that you’d be willing to share? If so, please leave a comment! And since you’ve made it all the way to the end of this article, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!