Expertise Beyond the Numbers

Sufficient Training and The Path to a Successful Cloud ERP Implementation (Part 3 of 5)

Picture the following scenario: you’re a senior staff accountant at an organization implementing Sage Intacct to replace an outdated, on-premises accounting system. Countless hours have been spent gathering system requirements, re-designing the chart of accounts, designing the dimension structure, and implementing new workflows.  Now it’s the eve of the long awaited system go-live and given your seniority on the team, you’re expected to hit the ground running and lead the rest of the finance staff.  As you begin to do your work in the new system, you realize you were never properly trained on how to operate the new and sophisticated system. That to us is a horror story.

There are a number of steps you can take to ensure you never find yourself in the situation described above and that your people are well trained and ready to hit the ground running.

  • Onsite Training is Optimal: When training on a new ERP system, it is imperative that the trainer is onsite with his/her clients. While conference calls are well suited for status calls and other meetings, face-to-face training for end-users is irreplaceable. This format leads to better engagement, more questions, and a smoother overall go-live process. Being in the same room allows all participants to provide their undivided attention. Be sure to include this in the scope of the engagement letter during the sales process!
  • Sandbox Environment for Testing: During the implementation period, the implementation team will complete the initial build of the new system. It is strongly recommended to obtain access to a test copy of the production system. Depending on the software, it may be an additional cost for an extra environment, but that cost will be justified in the long run. Having a sandbox environment for all staff members to have a “safe space” for training and testing the new system will lower the risk of anything going wrong in production. It is recommended to enter actual transactions in the sandbox environment prior to going live in order to simulate real-life activity (please see the next section, “Lack of User Acceptance Testing”, for more information on testing in the sandbox environment). Additionally, it’s advisable to have a Sandbox environment even after go-live, so new development and issues testing can occur in a risk-free area. The last issue anyone wants to encounter is having an unproven configuration change in the production environment cause issues with already working functionality.
  • Internal Group Training Sessions: Lean on your co-workers! During the training and testing phase, implementers suggest training an hour per day prior to going live in the new system. One thing we’ve seen our clients do very successfully is to schedule ‘lunch and learns’ dedicated to learning system capabilities and new features. Collaborative approaches often yield the best results and the best questions. Make sure to write down all of your questions and review them with the implementation team in order to gain a greater understanding of the new system.
  • Conduct Workshops With Your Implementer: Even after participating in system training, some individuals might not yet feel comfortable enough navigating the new system to enter a real-life transaction. To fix this, ask your implementer to meet over a screen-sharing conference call. This will allow the implementer to provide one-on-one coaching while you make the points and clicks throughout the system. This method will serve two purposes: to learn the most effective way of properly completing the task at hand, as well as gain experience with live practice. The more experience with the new system, the faster you’ll learn the ins-and-outs

All of these techniques can be used together or in different combinations in order to reduce the risk of not having enough training.

Now What?