Why Training is Critical to a Successful Oracle Cloud ERP Project

Why Training is Critical to a Successful Oracle Cloud ERP Project

The challenges of implementing Oracle Cloud ERP successfully are well documented and Daryn Edgar, ERP Influencer, has this advice: “User training is the lynchpin. It’s the difference between achieving your business objectives and not achieving them.”

There’s a growing body of research that confirms end users play a critical role in the success of any ERP implementation, Oracle ERP included. The most common drivers for ERP are to increase an organisation’s efficiency, performance and profitability. But approaching these projects as being all about technology, rather than the people who will use the system, risks jeopardising the outcome.

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Risks

‘ERP is 90% about people, process, culture and politics and 10% about IT. Misunderstand that and you are heading for failure,’ reported ERP Experts Online Forum in 2012.

According to Huang et al. (2004) ‘insufficient user training’ ranks second in a list of the top ten risks to a successful ERP implementation. Panorama Consulting Solutions lists ‘training issues’ as one of the five key reasons given for Oracle ERP implementations over-running.

And Akca et al (2013) found that ‘ERP system performance is in direct relation with users’ performance’.

Early

Counteracting these risks means factoring in users and their training needs at the very outset, when the business case for the implementation is being put together.

Some of the most successful Oracle Cloud ERP implementations reported have been where organisations have included key end user or project team training before the design phase of the project, building employee trust and knowledge upfront.

This allowed them to build a system that truly meets the organisation’s objectives. They then go on to use an external training provider strategically, to create a tailored training programme for users that are already engaged.

The role of user feedback here is paramount. Edgar notes: “End user adoption feedback, when obtained early, is the earliest and most successful form of feedback because it’s qualitative, detailed and from the front line. It’s also one of the least appreciated and if ignored your return on investment isn’t likely to be achieved.”

Late

Conversely, including user training late in the project – typically in the middle of user acceptance testing – is a frequent factor in poor or even failed implementations. UAT is a critical phase and it is a challenging and expensive time to add another variable to be planned into an already pressured mix.

“Engaging with a training provider as early as possible gives you more options,” Edgar advises. “You can actually spend less and evaluate a plan that is based on current techniques and the models that will work best for you.”

Ignoring this can be costly and not just in terms of budget. Panorama Consulting Solutions’ research (2012) shows most Oracle projects have a payback period greater than three years whilst nearly half Oracle Cloud ERP user companies realise 50% or less of the anticipated benefits from their system. A lack of focus on organisational change management elements such as training and communication is given as a key factor behind these figures.

Failing to train users effectively is also likely to end with them resisting change, reverting to type and inventing work-arounds for the part of the system they interact with.

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Models

There are several routes to consider when planning, developing and delivering an Oracle Cloud ERP user training programme. The main options are to rely on vendor supplied courses and materials; use internal super-users and trainers; engage with a specialist ERP training provider; or take a hybrid approach.

In Edgar’s experience a mix of internal and external expertise is usually the best model because it combines skills: “In-house alone often won’t have the knowledge, resources and available capacity; a specialist training provider alone doesn’t have the connection to the business or the authority of the project’s sponsor.”

Content

Having chosen the model, the content of the training programme needs to be defined. The most effective user training is tailored, job-specific and hands-on, backed up by fast access to easy-to-use, relevant reference materials.

Research by Vayyavur (2015) states: ‘The success of the training program depends on its ability to deliver training and knowledge at the individuals’ level.”

A detailed training analysis will scope out who needs to be trained in what, how and by when. Designing and developing the lesson plans, creating the training materials and scheduling delivery requires a flexible approach to reflect changes that inevitably happen during the system build.
It’s important to marry the methods of delivery – classroom based, eLearning, self-service – with the individual circumstances of the implementing organisation. Do staff work remotely or on a shift pattern? Whatever the mix, training the trainers to deliver the content consistently is key.

Continuous

Whilst the immediate focus for any Oracle ERP end-user training programme will be on achieving a successful go-live, the training materials need to be available for new joiners and refresher training. They should also be updated as the system evolves.

In 1885 Hermann Ebbinghaus plotted a ‘forgetting curve’ that is still relevant today. The research showed how memory fails over time, falling from 100% at the point of learning to less than 50% one year on and only 25% after two years.

After go-live, well trained end users will provide valuable feedback on how the new processes and the system can be adjusted for a better fit going forward.

Budget

There has been much debate on how much an organisation implementing ERP should invest in end user training. According to Gartner Research (2000): “Businesses spending less than 13% of their ERP project costs on training are three times more likely to fall short of their business and project goals than organisations spending 17% or more.”

ERP Focus quotes research by Dr Yan-Goh Ng (2007): “95% of companies where ERP fails dedicate less than 10% of their total budget to education, training and change management.”

But quantifying the overall cost of the project is problematic in the sense of precisely which elements do you include?
Rather than look at percentages Edgar is clear: “Budget isn’t the driver but it does become the excuse. If you start late and base your training plan on what’s left in the budget, you will get a sub-par proposal and result.”

Success

To summarise: user training is critical to a successful Oracle Cloud ERP implementation. The advice is to start early and include it at the very beginning of the project. Use it strategically and it will add value; do it late or under-resource it and you’ll pay a price. As Daryn Edgar says: “User training is the lynchpin… it’s the last mile.”

Onboard can provide customized Oracle Cloud ERP ERP training programmes to any business, in any location. Click here to find out more about our services.

Nicky Cortes
Nicky Cortes
Director of Training and Development

As Director of Training and Development, Nicky's role encompasses Trainer Management and the development of Onboard's strategic training solutions. After 25+ years as a trainer she has a wealth of information at her fingertips. She scopes complex requirements and devises training plans to roll-out ERP end user training. Nicky is able to analyse large organisations and user groups, presenting the information back to clients in a comprehensive and clear manner.

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