Training responsibilities

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) users within our company have been complaining that they have inadequate levels of training.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) users within our company have been complaining that they have inadequate levels of training.

The user group has made it clear that they believe it is our responsibility to ensure that both initial and ongoing training is provided on these systems. We do not see ourselves as trainers, nor do we have the resources to do this, but at the same time HR claims IT training is not within its remit. Any suggestions?

the solution

Take an objective look at the business

Paul Williams

Arthur Andersen

Many businesses implementing ERP systems do not achieve the productivity gains they anticipated prior to the project commencing.

The reasons for this are often complex and interrelated, concerning the underlying software and technology, the staff, the modelling of the business processes, project management during the implementation, and support and maintenance after implementation.

Your comment regarding inadequate training of users in the new ERP system is all too common. Training is fundamentally important. However, training may just be a symptom of some deeper rooted problems concerning the business processes. Therefore, the allocation of additional resources to user training may not be the only answer.

I suggest that your company takes an objective look at the business processes and considers such issues as:

  • How the business processes were modelled in preparation for the implementation

  • The opportunities to simplify business processes

  • The roles and responsibilities of staff, and supply chain management operation

    A review of the business processes is not a technical IT project. Your company must ensure that business process owners take responsibility, and commit to driving through the potential changes required. In the absence of such ownership it may prove difficult to identify and address underlying causes.

    Link training to productivity

    Rob Lambert

    Senior lecturer in management information systems, Cranfield School of Management

    Many ERPs have been implemented as an IT application, rather than showing clear links to improvements to business processes and performance. Therefore, the approach we suggest is:

  • Review and agree with the business exactly which improvements in productivity are required

  • Identify clearly the business processes and activities that affect that productivity;

  • Identify where your ERP application can support the required improvements.

    Our experience suggests that, in order to deliver real business benefits and productivity improvements, a mix of business change and IT training is required. It is critical that you develop a plan of action linked directly to the productivity improvements showing any business changes.

    Any training must be directly linked to the productivity improvements and subsequently measured to ensure the benefits have been delivered. Hence, you need to develop a business case for the training and monitor benefits delivery, rather than treating IT training as a standalone item and a budgetary issue.

    Someone's got to find the funds

    Robin Bloor

    CEO, Bloor Research

    You should probably bite the bullet. This is someone's fault. If it's yours then admit it and go cap in hand for the money. If it is someone else's fault, then pin it down and tell them to go and find funds. If no funds appear then the only solution is to fund it from existing resources or by cunning.

    One possible get-out-of-jail-free card is a "new support desk system" that just happens to have remote training capabilities. Buy one, claiming massive savings from this brave initiative (and there should be some unless you already have an excellent system).

    Now tie the two problems together by implementing the new support system on the ERP software first and make training an invisible part of this. If none of this works then turn to the job pages.

    Build in training from the start

    Roger Rawlinson

    Head of e-business technologies, NCC Group

    Training is fundamental to the success of a new system, this is particularly true of an ERP system as they usually represent a significant change to the user, both in terms of IT and the business process. An organisation that rolls out ERP without adequate training is running a massive risk - it is in danger of eroding productivity and losing control of the business.

    Training should have been built into the project from the beginning, that means building testing into the procurement process and identifying with potential suppliers how training will be managed and implemented. The supplier can provide all training, or train your staff to provide the training. The key aspect is that it is built into the project plan. Your question raises the issue of who is responsible for the training - the answer is the business:

  • IT is responsible for delivering IT and, as you point out in your case, does not have the skills or resources to deliver the training

  • HR should have a role in training as it is a staff issue, liaising with yourself to identify what is required to resolve your current shortfall

  • I suggest that you submit a "paper" to management, identifying the issues and the potential detrimental effect on the business, as well as the investment and what is required to resolve it

  • You should have a close relationship with your supplier and I would call on them for assistance. It is in their interest for your system to be a success.

    next week

    A year from now our company is going to amalgamate two offices into one central location in the Midlands. As head of IT, what sort of strategic plans should I be making in preparation for this - I am thinking of things such as my role in changing management and staff retention. Isn't this a golden opportunity to dispose of the old and bring in the new?

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