By Thomas Michael, CEO, and Chelsea Perino, Marketing Manager, The Michael Management Corporation
It’s no secret that having a successful training program is essential to any organization, but the thought of creating such a program from scratch can be daunting. Companies that use SAP enterprise software have at least one thing in common with other kinds of organizations: They all need to train their employees on the appropriate and best-practice use of this complex software. We at The Michael Management Corporation have worked with some of the most successful companies in the world, helping them put together effective training programs. Based on our experience, we have summarized these five quick tips to help you design a training program for your organization:
- Don’t let training be an after-thought. Your organization likely has invested millions of dollars in software, programs, or specific methodologies, but if you don’t train people to use it effectively, then this investment largely will be wasted. Failure to make training a critical component of any ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system is the No. 1 mistake many organizations make. The best way to show your organization’s commitment to a comprehensive and ongoing training program is when the support for it starts at the top executive level.
- Consider employing various types of training or training delivery methods: off-site; on-site; and online, self-study, and instructor-led. Your employees learn in different ways and at different paces, which is why it is important to make sure that everyone has access to the material and can be engaged in different ways. Send employees to relevant conferences, bring a training professional to your own location, and provide access to online training programs. The best training methods employ a mixed method approach, combining at least two of these options. Also, consider that most, if not all, recent college graduates are used to taking training online, so creating that option is an effective way to motivate students to participate.
- Review your training materials ahead of time. A good training course explains not only how to perform a task but more importantly why, so users understand the business rationale behind what they’re doing. Each training session should set a scene of a common business scenario that students can identify with easily as part of their job responsibilities. Ensure the materials are applicable to what users need to learn and include plenty of hands-on practice. This is essential, because while book knowledge is important, if your employees cannot then apply this knowledge in real-world scenarios, it is of no use.
- Monitoring your employees’ progress is a critical, yet often overlooked, aspect. Survey employees immediately after the training to assess how well they liked the course, trainer (if applicable), and how well the training met their needs. Also, training administrators should monitor student progress and training completion; a training course that is only half finished is not going to be effective. Finally, make students accountable with meaningful applicable exams. Define a series of KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for your training program, such as average number of training hours per student, average completion percentage, average final grades, etc. Review these KPIs at regular intervals and manage your training program and progress against these benchmark values. Make use of automated tools to help you with this part. For example, our online learning management system (LMS) system automatically sends out reminders to students when it detects that progress has stalled.
- Last but certainly not least, don’t stop. The most successful companies in the world recognize the fact that training is not an event but an ongoing process. Business environments are evolving constantly, with new developments being created and existing ones enhanced. Consequently, training is an ongoing exercise without an end date. Best practice is to provide recurring refresher courses and cross-training opportunities for existing employees and comprehensive starter training for new hires. In addition, consider including successful completion of the courses as part of an employee’s annual performance evaluation.
Thomas Michael is CEO, and Chelsea Perino is Marketing manager at The Michael Management Corporation, a provider of SAP training, SAP access, and expert SAP consulting services. The company’s course catalog includes more than 750 interactive hands-on simulations, and it has delivered 10,000-plus online training sessions to more than 6,000 students in the last three years alone. For more information, visit www.michaelmanagement.com. If you are interested in signing up for a free 14-day trial, visit www.michaelmanagement.com/trial or call Mark Schumka at 800.608.0490 ext. 101.