Whether you’re planning on implementing new ERP software or another solution incorporating business intelligence or artificial intelligence, your ROI will depend almost entirely on what you do with the data insights these technologies provide.

We say “you,” but we mean everyone in your organization. It’s your employees who must know what to do with data insights.

Today, we’re sharing expert advice on how to build data literacy among your employees so you can make the most of your new enterprise software.

What is Data Literacy?

Data literacy measures the ability of employees to understand and work with the data they encounter. They should be able to manipulate and access it to the degree that their role requires.

Data literacy will look different for each employee in your organization. However, at its core, it’s centered on four foundations. These include the ability to:

  • Read data: Understand what it is and what it represents
  • Work with data: Create, acquire, clean, and manage it
  • Analyze data: Perform various operations with it (e.g., filter, sort, compare, aggregate)
  • Argue with data: Use it to support a bigger-picture narrative that communicates a story or message

For a supply chain manager, data literacy might mean they’re able to use data from an SCM system to justify decisions like switching to a new supplier.

For a sales representative, this might mean they’re able to use CRM data to identify which sales channels are most effective.

Data Training is Essential

According to one recent survey, fewer than 40% of organizations make data training available to all employees. Instead, around 75% of business leaders take an on-the-job approach, explaining that they expect their workers to learn about data on an ad-hoc basis.

While formal data training may require a significant investment of time and money, the effort is worth it. The amount and types of data your teams encounter will only grow over time, and you want to be able to take advantage of it.

For example, if your manufacturing ERP software provides customer data insights that could empower frontline workers to make real-time supply chain decisions, you want these workers to know how to make such decisions.

ERP Training Plan Success Story

We helped this manufacturer implement an ERP training strategy to increase user adoption of its new ERP system.

Creating a Data Literacy Plan

When you’re ready to build a data-driven culture, one of the first steps is creating a data literacy plan. This should be part of the organizational change management plan you use to prepare your employees for new technology.

1. Understand Baseline Abilities

Work with your project team to assess your employees’ current abilities and existing skills. Then, discuss the level of proficiency you’d like them to reach.

2. Separate Data Literacy from Technical Aptitude

While you may have an ERP training strategy for equipping employees to use the new software, that won’t necessarily build data literacy.

Data training is something different entirely. It’s about teaching employees how to understand and communicate about data both verbally and through data visualizations. It’s about building a culture where employees instinctually consult data whenever they’re faced with an important decision.

3. Know How to Talk About Data

You won’t get too far using highly technical industry jargon and fancy acronyms.

Instead, speak plainly and encourage employees to use this same “data language.” When everyone is on the same page, business decisions can be made more efficiently.

4. Create Incentives

Everyone loves to be rewarded and acknowledged for their hard work. Instead of creating a punitive culture around data literacy, look for ways to reward employees when they reach certain milestones in their training.

5. Set KPIs

As you implement your data literacy plan, remember to clearly outline how you’ll define success. Without key performance indicators (KPIs), it can be difficult to know if the plan is succeeding.

When you look at the effort in this way, it also helps you see how improvements in data literacy can drive real results throughout your organization.

Learn More About How to Build Data Literacy

When your employees are data literate, they can act on a variety of different types of data insights. Your new ERP software will provide more insights than you can handle, but your employees will be able to discern what’s important and what actions they should take.

If you’re wondering how to build data literacy at your company, it’s important to have a plan. By following the steps above, you can address weak areas and teach your employees how to use the data they access.

Are you ready to prepare your employees for the monsoon of new data insights flowing out of modern and emerging technologies? Reach out to our organizational change management consultants for a free consultation.

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