Tips for Successful Enterprise Resource Planning (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Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient.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.

 

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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.

 

Infographic: The Presentation, Application, Feedback (PAF) Model

I created this colourful infographic to illustrate the Presentation, Application, and Feedback (PAF) Model for training and instructional design. It’s important to keep the PAF Model in mind when developing training to ensure we’re not overloading our learners with too much presentation of content. You want to include lots of opportunities for application and provide the appropriate feedback.

Instructional Design Infographic

Infographic: Gagné’s 9 Events of Instruction

I’ve created this infographic to explain and illustrate Robert Gagné’s 9 Events of Instructions, which is an important model in the world of instructional design.

Gagne Nine Events of Instruction

Tips for Using Audio in E-Learning

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Using audio in your e-learning is a great way to bring content to life and introduce another type of multimedia. There are several things to consider when adding audio, including what type of audio you want, how will you record it, and more. Read on to learn some key things you should know about including audio in your next e-learning project.

Types of Audio

There are various types of audio you can include in your content:

  • Narration (which has four “subtypes”)
    • Elaborative  (on-screen text summarizes the audio)
    • Paraphrasing (audio summarizes the on-screen text)
    • Verbatim (reading exact words on-screen)
    • Descriptive (audio describes image on-screen)
  • Music
  • Sound effects

The kind of narration you will use in your projects depend greatly on the specifics of the project (time, talent, budget) as well as what the subject matter is.

Which content should be narrated? There are a couple of scenarios where it might be more worthwhile to use narration. For example, when you need to explain a complex definition or process, or when demonstrating situations such as interview skills or emotional interactions between individuals.

Narration Options

The next question you might ask yourself is, who will narrate? 3 ways to narrate your course include:

  • A professional narrator
  • An employee narrator
  • Text-to-voice software

There are both pros and cons to using any type of narration in your project.

PROS CONS
Professional Narration
  • High quality sound recordings done in a professional, sound proof studio
  • Has knowledge about compression rates, “clean audio”
  • Has a variety of consistent voicing styles, pitch, intonation
  • More expensive (they typically use a pay-per-minute model)
Amateur Narration
  • Less expensive than going to a professional
  • Adds realism and a personal-touch (especially if the narrator is an employee the learners know)
  • Lower quality (there may be breathing, lip smacking, background noises, etc.)
  • Inconsistent voice styles
  • Can be very difficult to match audio quality and have the same voice talent if updates are required in the future
Text-to-voice
  • Likely the least expensive route
  • Consistent quality
  • Consistent voicing style/intonation
  • Over the last few years quality has improved and it is now more common alternative
  • May sound robotic, unemotional and fake
  • Less personal

Other Resources

In addition to “the voice” you will likely need a couple of additional people to be involved in the audio recording process, likely:

  • A scriptwriter
  • A producer (this depends on the technical skill your narrator possesses, and if he/she can do the actual sound recording themselves)

General Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips and best practices for using audio in e-learning:
  • Narration rule of thumb is 1 minute of talk time = 100 words
  • Try to keep audio clips to 20-30 seconds (to retain learner attention)
  • Find a balance between what learners should read vs. what they should listen to
  • Allow users to have control over volume settings
  • Have an instructional reason for using the narration or audio (not just because)
  • Add a transcript or closed captions to keep your content accessible
  • Audio might slow down some learners since they have to go at the pace of narration
  • Adding narration will impact on the amount of time it takes to complete your e-learning course

The Ultimate E-Learning Design and Development Checklist

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I have compiled several e-learning, instructional design, and web design checklists to create the ultimate e-learning design and development checklist. This list is thorough and covers a broad range of items. Keep in mind not every item will apply to every project.

INSTRUCTIONAL DESIGN

  • Training needs analysis is complete
  • Project constraints have been identified
  • Project plan is complete
  • Audience analysis is complete
  • Task analysis is complete
  • Various instructional methods are used
  • Objectives are clearly stated
  • Objectives include measurable criteria
  • Instructional content relates directly to learning objectives
  • Course objectives are met
  • Content is segmented in small chunks
  • Information is grouped logically
  • Major headings are clear and descriptive
  • One-third of the content is presentation
  • Two-thirds of the content is application and feedback
  • There is a summary for every piece of  content
  • Glossary is used to define key concepts  and terms

ASSESSMENTS & TESTS

  • All assessments are relevant and complete
  • Assessments are challenging and realistic
  • Various quiz methods and types are used
  • Assessments are used throughout
  • Final assessment at the end
  • Pass and fail marks are appropriate
  • Feedback is provided for questions   answered
  • Feedback is adequate
  • Feedback presented within reasonable time
  • Post course assessment/evaluation is included
  • New content is not presented in assessments or in assessment feedback

GENERAL DESIGN

  • Total design is uniform in appearance
  • Branding guidelines have been   followed
  • Use of logos is appropriate
  • Colors used are consistent and suitable
  • High visibility and contrast
  • Navigation is consistent throughout
  • There is a generous amount of white space
  • Graphics and icons are used to signify important concepts
  • Patterns and textured backgrounds do not interfere with legibility

FONTS

  • Maximum of three fonts used throughout
  • Decorative fonts are only used for headings
  • Body text uses sans serif fonts
  • Appropriate line spacing is used
  • Paragraph length is appropriate
  • Font sizes are appropriate and easily readable
  • Font colors visible against background color
  • Styles and colors are consistent throughout
  • Emphasis (bold, italics) is used sparingly
  • Body text is left justified

TESTING

  • E-learning has been tested in multiple browsers
  • E-learning has been tested on multiple devices
  • E-learning has been tested in the Learning Management System (LMS)
  • E-learning has been tested in various resolutions
  • All links and buttons have been tested
  • Accessibility features have been tested
  • Course has been tested with a screen reader
  • All audio has been tested
  • All videos have been tested
TECHNICAL

  • Project load time is reasonable
  • Shortcut keys have been defined
  • FAQ document has been created
  • Hardware requirements have been   identified
  • Software requirements have been   identified
  • Dimensions are optimized for target audience
  • Pages can be printed
  • Total time to complete has been timed
  • Contact information available for   questions or problems

ACCESSIBILITY

  • Course can be navigated with keyboard
  • All ALT tags are used
  • Text is provided for non-text   elements
  • Videos have script or dialogue
  • Captions provided for audio
  • No flashes faster than 3 times per second
  • No colors used to convey information
  • Use text with appropriate contrast ratio
  • No fine motor skills required
  • No timed activities
  • No use of hover states to display important information

NAVIGATION

  • Main navigation is easily identifiable
  • All navigation is correct sequence
  • Hyperlinks are clearly identified
  • All hyperlinks work
  • Minimum use of external links
  • Backward links to navigate to previous   screens
  • Number of navigation icons is reasonable
  • Table of contents used to lay out the   content
  • E-learning has guided tour and/or map for   further explanations

VIDEOS & ANIMATION

  • Use of animation and videos is appropriate
  • Files are compressed/optimized
  • Videos and animations are consistent in quality, size and type
  • Videos are legally   owned

AUDIO & NARRATION

  • Narration is not exact text on the screen
  • Narration is clear and concise
  • Audio quality is high (not fuzzy or   scrambled)
  • Narrator sounds confident and knowledgeable
  • Audio synced to the content
  • Audio can be paused
  • Volume can be muted
  • Volume can be controlled by user

TEXT CONTENT

  • Language is clear and concise
  • Spelling has been checked
  • Grammar has been checked
  • Language is culturally appropriate
  • Humor is used with care
  • Tone is consistent and appropriate
  • Text is gender neutral
  • Content is not plagiarized
  • Date formats, measurements, are consistent
  • SME has verified text content
  • Facts, statistics, data are accurate
  • Facts, statistics, data sources are   identified
  • Correct capitalization applies to units and acronyms
  • Correct capitalization is used
  • Punctuation is appropriate
  • Complex sentences are avoided
  • Content has been localized for all required languages

GRAPHICS

  • Images are meaningful and have a purpose
  • Images use appropriate file type
  • Photos are consistent in quality and style
  • Images are legally owned
  • System screen captures are up-to-date
  • Screen captures do not contain personal information

Since you’ve made it all the way to the end of the checklist, maybe you should subscribe to my blog!

20+ Questions To Include in an Audience Analysis

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An audience analysis is a task that instructional designers and training developers perform in the initial phases of planning a training project. Completing an audience analysis is critical because in order to communicate information effectively, you need to understand who your learners are. Depending on the project, you might have more than once audience.

To complete your audience analysis, you will need to interview and observe the employees and management to gather information about your learners. Once you have identified your specific audiences, you can tailor your courses so they are pertinent to the different background, education levels, etc.

Here’s an example of how audiences can vary widely, even within one organization:

You are developing software training for a large organization with a manufacturing facility.

Some of your learners are engineers who work in software development. They are technically savvy, work at a computer all day and are already familiar with the software you are training them on.

Meanwhile, your second audience is the workers from manufacturing facility. They work with machinery all day and barely use the computer. This will be their first time ever seeing this software.

You can already see that, even though these two audiences may need to be trained on the same software, very different approaches will be required for different audiences.

Here’s a list of 20 audience analysis questions to get you started.

General

  • Who is your primary audience?
  • Are there potential secondary audiences?

Demographics

  • What is the average age of the learner?
  • Are the learners mostly men, women, or an equal mix?
  • What is the educational background (high school diploma, PhD)?
  • What is their cultural background, race, ethnicity?

Knowledge & Experience

  • What is their level of work experience?
  • What is the reading level of the audience?
  • How much do they already know about the subject at hand?
  • What tone or attitude is appropriate for your audience?
  • How motivated are the learners?

 Technical

  • What hardware and software do the the learners have?
  • How technically savvy are the learners?
  • What resources do the learners have at their disposal?

Expectations

  • What level of participation can you expect?
  • What kind of syntax or writing style are your learners comfortable with?
  • Why are the learners taking the training?
  • What will the audience expect to learn?
  • What amount of time do learners have available to devote to training?
  • Do any of the learners have special needs or accessibility requirements?

If you know of any other audience analysis questions that I’ve missed, please leave a comment.