Spring training is finally here! To a seasoned baseball fan, it means the anticipation of a World Series Championship, warm days and cool summer evenings sitting in the grandstands, hot dogs and peanuts, home runs and stolen bases.

This time of year also makes me also think about that word: “training.” Why, you ask yourself, do veteran players need to go through training every year? Since most have played the game for the better part of their lives, wouldn’t they know as much as any coach?

The answer is simple: no matter how experienced players might be, training is the lifeblood that builds a team, strengthens skills, creates harmony and builds strategy for the upcoming season.

Training should be just as important for your employees. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked – especially during an ERP implementation. And lack of good training is a hotbed of poor performance.

One of the least scrutinized (and most important) areas during the ERP software selection process is training; specifically, each vendor’s program offerings and ability to provide training at all levels. Many – and dare I say most – ERP vendors assume that the project team members will learn as they go. They leave the end-user training up to the team members. What many companies fail to realize is that the team members are so busy trying to make the system do what is necessary to accommodate their processes and needs that they often don’t learn all the “tips and tricks” shortcuts, and problem-solving techniques imbedded in all software systems.

Do not let training become a secondary thought during your implementation. Negotiate the need for strong, experienced trainers. Negotiate the time for (at the very least) all department managers to have full hands-on training prior to go-live.  Negotiate documented processes and step-by-step instruction manuals.

The best software configuration will “strike out” if your end-users can’t navigate through the system, can’t enter and move orders without difficulty, and/or can’t perform to their usual high standards.  If an end-user cannot provide a quick, appropriate and reliable answer to a customer, your company just lost the game.

If your vendor cannot provide these services, make sure they can point you to a third-party that can train your employees in your new ERP system and leave you with documentation to assist in further training. And once your consultants have gone, be sure you develop an on-going training plan for your company. Don’t leave such an important task to a peer or, even worse, an out-going employee. Make sure your team all the tools necessary (plans, documentation, hands-on practice) to hit one to the grandstand.

Blog posted by Jeanne Hedman, a Senior Consultant at Panorama Consulting Group

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