Tips for Successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Training


Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient.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. Learn more about specific change management techniques for instructional designers here.
  • 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 training tips and tricks.



    3 thoughts on “Tips for Successful Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Training

    1. Marty Simon says:

      Great to get a new blog entry from your site. Very interesting article (and spot on advice). It dovetails with your question on LinkedIn about getting your PMP. I think you’re destined for much greater things. With your abilities and experience, I see you as a Chief Learning Officer in the not too distant future. A MBA or CLO certification may be something to consider if you have those aspirations.

      All the best to you.
      Marty Simon

    2. Andrew says:

      I’m super impressed by this mainly because this is EXACTLY what I’m doing right now as a Training Designer for a particular contract.

      What I’m finding right now is that I have to do a lot of drudgery-type work with creating system documentation first and foremost that will later (hopefully) lead to easier curriculum creation as the system gets refined (we’re also building it, so it’s like building the plane while we’re already in the air).

      My biggest frustration is that I feel like there’s little creativity (at least right now). It’s not like I’m building eLearning, at least at this point I’m not. It seems like you’ve been through this type of work — how do you maintain creativity?

      Hope to hear from you and thanks in advance!

      • Nicole L. says:

        Hi Andrew!

        Thanks for your comment!

        I can totally relate to how you’re feeling. The up front part of identifying and documenting processes can be quite tedious, time consuming and, as you mentioned, a bit uninspiring.

        Take solace in the fact that creating good documentation up front will make your training design and delivery much easier when you actually get to that point … someday … eventually … haha 🙂

        One of the ways you can maintain creativity is to start thinking about the scenarios and “triggers” that can go with each process.

        For example, say there’s a new process for creating a new BOM (Bill of Materials) you might think of the realistic scenario or situation that would lead to someone having to create a new BOM. What details can you include in the BOM scenario to make it realistic and challenging ? What would happen if they didn’t follow the process correctly ? What happens when they do get it right ?

        Also, this up front part is a good time to start thinking about the types of interactivities you can create to present the processes . It might not be possible to figure it all out at this early stage but you can probably start to get a sense for … this process would work well as a simulation. This process can be presented in a short video, or a matching activity or a drag and drop. This topic is super critical so a quiz or assessment might be necessary here, that kind of thing . Those are a few ways to keep your creative ID juices flowing as you get through the documentation!! Hope this helps ! Good luck with the project!

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