Include Training in Your ERP Implementation Budget
Buying and implementing an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system will not reduce costs, make better products faster, improve customer service (on-time completion), reduce inventory, or any of the other operational improvements that companies often rely on to justify the expense and disruption such a project entails.
An ERP solution (when appropriately implemented) will almost certainly improve visibility and control, support better decisions, and help keep the plant organized, efficient, and operating smoothly. It will enhance customer service by enabling better communications and supporting more reliable performance (meeting expectations and keeping promises), thereby generating the aforementioned improvements.
ERP Software is a Powerful Tool That Requires User Knowledge
An ERP system is just a tool, albeit a vital and powerful tool. An ERP system does not make a product or fulfill a customer order. It doesn’t even decide what to make or buy and when. It collects, organizes, and combines information and provides analysis and recommendations that users may choose to follow to get those satisfactory results. It is the users that drive the results. And they can only drive those results if they understand how the system works, what the recommendations mean and how to put them into effect, and how to feed and maintain the system to work correctly and provide good information.
ERP System Users are the Key to ERP Implementation Success
Most companies factor in the need and budget that a modest amount of training and education requires when purchasing an ERP system. There are several problems, however:
A “modest amount” is almost always too little.
Many companies assume that the system-specific training included by the vendor with the system purchase is all they need. This is seldom true. Also, vendors tend to scrimp on the training line item when trying to bring the total package price down in order to make the deal.
Vendor training is typically focused on the specific functions and procedures that their system handles. That’s fine and necessary. But users also need a more universal understanding of what the ERP software does and how it works. Robots who simply follow the step-by-step procedures won’t do the job. Informed users that know where the recommendations come from so they can make informed decisions about whether and how to implement those recommendations are critical.
For example, would buying a new state-of-the-art multi-axis CNC machine and expecting the operator, even an experienced machinist, to know how to get the most out of the equipment just by reading the operating manual be a wise decision? Of course not.
ERP solutions address the entire business and apply more sophisticated programming logic than any machine control system. General education in how ERP software works should be included in all implementation education plans – even if the primary users are already knowledgeable about ERP. They might not know about the newer refinements and extensions that are included in the new system or in the plan for future system growth.