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Imagine this scenario: a company decides they’ve had enough of using systems that are outdated, slow, and inefficient.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.

 

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Recording a Screencast: Do’s and Don’ts

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I’m always interested in learning more about new tools that are available for e-learning developers, so last weekend I decided to try my hand using the free screencasting tool Screenr!

Before I made my first recording, I did a bit of homework into what goes into a great screen recording and I’ve compiled some of the top tips and techniques. Follow these Do’s and Don’ts of screen recording to help you create your own screencast!

Select a topic

  • Do have a clear purpose for the screencast
  • Do keep it short and simple

If the process is too long, chunk it down and make several short videos. This is something I learned myself as I was trying to cram a somewhat complicated 10 step process into a 5 minute video. I realized I was trying to show too much at once, and broke it down into two five-step processes instead.

Write a script or storyboard

  • Do script out your process step-by-step. (This is a critical step. Without the script you might forget a step, ramble about useless information, do something backwards, etc.).
  • Do create a storyboard of the different shots, or screens, you need to capture and in which order.
  • Do include any “set-up” instructions that are required to do your screencast in your storyboard. For example, you might need the application to be logged in and displaying a specific window, or you might need certain data or information to already be input in the system. Think along the lines of cooking shows – some things take too long to demonstrate in the time available, so different versions of the dish are made ahead of time and are ready in varying degrees, so they can just pull it out of the oven and Voila!

Select your recording software

If you’re unsure about which software you’d like to purchase, you can download a free trial of any of the paid software options to get a feel for the features and interface

Set up your screen/applications

  • Do close all other applications and windows.
  • Do hide your start menu and any visible taskbars, menus.
  • Do turn off all pop-ups, alerts, and notifications.
  • Do have all the data you need in front of you (if you need to input data as part of your process).
  • Do hide your favorites, quick links, and any other personal information that might show up on the screen if using an Internet browser (no one wants to see your personal links).
  • Do use an “administrator” or “general user” account (if possible) so your recording doesn’t reveal any names or personal information.
  • Do ensure applications are open, running, and ready to go before you start recording. Set it up to the exact screen you’d like to start from – don’t waste time navigating to a screen unless it’s an important part of the process that learners need to see.

Select an appropriate screen size/resolution

  • Do take screen size into consideration. The recording size will depend on things like: your audiences’ monitor display resolution, the size of the slides in your e-learning course, etc. At this point in time, it’s probably still safe to optimize for 1024 x 768.
  • Do keep the recording area as small as possible – without making it so small that you can’t see features or easily navigate in the application (this will help minimize file size).

Practice, practice, practice.

  • I don’t think I need to elaborate!

Use the right equipment

  • Do have a good microphone.

This is another thing I learned myself when I did my first few recordings using my laptop’s mouse trackpad and the built-in microphone. Result: really crappy audio quality. Since then I went to Best Buy and bought microphone for under 30$ and the audio quality is now far superior. Apparently learners will tolerate bad visuals over bad audio, so this is key!

Control your voice

  • Do speak clearly and enunciate words.
  • Do stick to the script.
  • Do add some personality.
  • Do use emphasis at key moments.
  • Don’t use jargon or overcomplicated words.
  • Don’t breathe too loudly, smack your lips, etc.
  • Don’t talk too close to the microphone.
  • Don’t say “so, like, eh, um,”. Personally – I am really bad at this, but working on it. Very helpful to have a clear script to follow.
  • Don’t be monotone and boring.

Control ambient sounds

  • Do choose a nice, quiet location to do your recording.
  • Do make sure your heater or air conditioner won’t come on.
  • Do put your cell phone on silent and unplug the landline (or turn off the ringer).
  • Do put your cat or dog outside.

This is yet one more thing I discovered firsthand (experience is the best teacher, they say!) as I was recording last weekend. I had the PERFECT screencast going — everything was going exactly according to script, I wasn’t saying “so” too much… so of course, my dog chose that moment to break out into a horrible, hacking cough in the background. Thanks, Charlie. Now I go into another room when I need to record.

Edit your recording

Share your recording

  • Do share it on video sharing sites (YouTube, Screenr, Vimeo, etc.)
  • Do share it on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.)

So far following these tips have really helped me improve my recordings – however, it’s like everything else in life, practice makes perfect! The more screencasts you record, the more comfortable you will be with it, and your recordings will improve over time. If you have any other tips or best practices that I did not include, please leave a comment…. and since you made it all the way to the end of this post, perhaps you should subscribe to my blog!