ERP Lessons Learned: Investing in Training is Critical to Success

Research Confirms Training is Key

“Companies spending less than 13 percent of their ERP project costs on training are three times more likely to fall short of their business and project goals than organizations spending 17 percent or more.”

– Gartner Research


“ERP is 90 percent about people, process, culture and politics, and 10 percent about IT. Misunderstand that and you are heading for failure. During business transformation projects (…) people are often an afterthought, and allocated the fewest resources. This is a big mistake.”

– Training Journal


“Organizations that focus on quality training for their ERP projects reduced their average time to ROI to 22.8 months in comparison to 35.3 months.”

– Aberdeen

Primary Drivers for ERP Failure

An inordinate focus on technology vs. people to drive business results
High dollar software licenses and integration/implementation services act like a magnet to stakeholder eyes. In an effort to protect their investment, the technology itself becomes the center of attention, defining project success and overshadowing the importance of employees (end users) adopting the new technology and utilizing it correctly to achieve the business benefits intended by the implementation. You can have the best designed system in the world, but unless your people are equipped to use it, business results will suffer.

A lack of true business process alignment with the new system(s)
Business stakeholders are expected to simultaneously learn the new processes and determine how they should t into their current organization, all during the short Blueprinting/Design phase of the project. They are informed of business impacts from a technology perspective, but do not truly understand the impacts to the business. Oftentimes, cross functional handoffs and critical process and role responsibility gaps are not recognized until go live or later, resulting in business inefficiencies and workarounds. Taking the time to perform a deep dive with the business, and mapping system processes to the role level, will uncover gaps early and enable the business to truly understanding and own the new end-to-end processes.

A limited understanding of how employees learn
When most people think about training, they think of sitting in a classroom and listening to an instructor drone on about all the new functionality of a system. And by go live, students have forgotten 90% of what went on in the classroom and can’t and the manual they left with. Transactional software training is ineffective and inefficient. Role-based training, on the other hand, trains your employees on what they need to know to do their individual jobs, and then provides performance support tools to support learning on the job. This approach dramatically increases end user adoption and decreases the time it takes to get end users up to speed and proficient using the new systems and processes, because employees are only trained on what they need to know when they need it.

An over-reliance on the technology vendor to provide training services that work
Relying on your technology vendor for training development and delivery is akin to going to a jet engine design engineer for Top Gun flight school training. It’s thought that because the technology vendor knows the software well enough to implement it, then they can surely train people on it. But nothing could be further from the truth. These vendors are technology specialists, not professional instructional designers. Hiring a professional rm that has extensive experience with utilities, understands the systems you are implementing, and can create training materials that are practical, aligned with achieving business goals and targeted to specific roles, will lead to much higher end user adoption, accelerated time to proficiency and ultimate project success.