5 Phase ERP Implementation Process
The implementation Project Team members should have received application software training in the Design and CRP phase. Shortly after the project team training and a full cycle regression test of the ERP application during the Pilot phase, the person in charge of training (often the software vendor) will design a user oriented training curriculum and deliver end user training in the form of classroom training or a train-the-trainer program.
End-user training curriculums differ from the initial project team training as they put much greater emphasis in the day-to-day user tasks and activities and do not include the software set up, application configuration or process alternatives exhausted during the pilot phase. En user training permits users to focus on only the activities that they need to be concerned with and leaves the configuration and business process alternatives to the project team. Implementation experience clearly shows that user retention is the most challenging training obstacle faced by users. It is therefore advisable to schedule the user training just before the go-live event. It is also very important that management provide the uninterrupted availability of those users scheduled to receive training so that training can be both efficient and effective. User training is frequently performed as a Train-the-Trainer program. All users responsible for using the application in everyday tasks must be trained in at least the processes necessary for their routine activities.
When it comes to user software training, we highly recommend the KISS (keep it simple stupid) principal. Stay focused on the primary and core responsibilities and do not try to make your users technology experts - it will not work and ultimately produce frustration that then challenges user adoption. Instead, empower your users with the screens, information and knowledge to become better in their positions, not technology guru’s. Some other training recommendations are listed below.
- Allocate your limited implementation time in the most optimal areas – with a significant concentration in user training programs. ERP applications and accounting software systems should have less of a focus on software technology and more of a focus on people, processes and training. A thorough training curriculum and post-production user support are directly correlated to the adoption and use of the new business software system and the achievement of the company's objectives.
- Be sure you have finished all of your software configuration, pilot Q.A.,and system testing before you begin the user training programs. It is a mistake to knowingly or unknowingly make the users the testers or Beta site which results in the unintended result of losing their confidence in the new system just before the go-live cut-over.
- Develop a solid agenda, training curriculum, classroom facility and supporting hand-out materials and integrate cross reference materials where they add value.
- Develop a rock solid, user based, real-world training curriculum. It is usually a mistake to use the software manufacturer's generic training materials. Instead use a tailored curriculum that more closely aligns with the users daily activities and responsibilities.
- Depending upon your user base computer literacy, you may want to consider skill-set assessments which measure PC skills and can then introduce precursor courses or append the training program as needed.
- Provide multiple types of user help resources such as a support desk, printed collaterals, role aides, reference sources, Queue Cards, a knowledge-base and online documentation. You may also want to consider provisioning a separate training company application so that users have a location to experiment without the risk of corrupting the system.
- If you're using internal help desk resources, make sure they are thoroughly trained, tested and ready for incoming user requests. It is generally a good idea to have these resources involved in the user training delivery.
Events that take place just before the go-live event include verifying final software modifications, performing a full system reconciliation, reviewing sample input to expected outcomes and making final adjustments as necessary. The conference room pilot (CRP) and user training program should include multiple testing scripts to validate system readiness, user confidence and data integrity. It is important that you also perform an Application Readiness Review with each individual user community prior to the go-live and retain a fall back contingency plan in the event the cut-over fails and you must revert to the prior application software system.
The best alternative to a point in time cut-over is parallel processing. If used, parallel processing should be performed for at least two period cycles in order to be considered effective. Although parallel processing lowers implementation risk and is regarded as a stronger safeguard for new system introduction, most entities do not have the resource availability to perform all transaction processing twice in two separate systems and then perform the necessary reconciliation's.