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The path to greater ROI: Embedding user training and development in your long term system strategy


Many organisations spend considerable sums of money implementing a system and training end-users at go-live, without putting in to place an ongoing strategy for knowledge retention and further learning.This is particular significant with regards to 'light' system users who are not repeating new processes everyday. These users typically include those who haven't had much involvement in the system project but will need to engage with the new software for tasks such as requisitioning, invoice approval, budget management, timesheet entry and procurement.

The effect on productivity

Continued training and professional development is key to achieving your ROI and reducing the cost of ownership in the longer term. Without a strategic approach to ongoing systems training, organisations will often find amongst light users:

  • A number of keying and coding errors which have to be corrected
  • Processes are not followed correctly and workarounds develop (this is particularly true with periodic processes)
  • An increased number of calls to support desk.

Amongst core users the ability to build on their own system knowledge and an ability to train and support new starters or light users is greatly reduced.

Training should not only address the initial rollout, but also the ongoing needs of the organisation. Your adopted training solutions should allow you to embed change in the organisation using consistent materials which are easy to update internally.

As processes change, reference materials will need to be updated and you need to know that any ongoing training reinforces the change and does not incorporate workarounds or sloppy practices which can creep in over time.

Improving retention

With regards to knowledge retention, the key here is repetition. This entails re-reading of materials, repetition of training and exercises, which might not increase learning, but will improve retention. Research from Edgar Dale and further developed by the National Training Laboratories Institute emphasises the importance of active learning, as illustrated in the attached image (the percentages indicated amount of information retained). With this in mind, you may consider:

Traditional training approaches

Classroom courses – putting on regular classroom courses for new starters and to develop core skills with supporting learning materials.

One to one sessions – can be highly specialised and delivered by those with in-depth system knowledge.

Workshops – getting the team together to discuss process and system use. This should be a regular exercise including the junior staff, to ensure that good practice messages are agreed and repeated.

Something new?

Self-teach guides - allow better control and can also be used in a one-to-one situation. Allows users to repeat exercises done in training, or learn new skills (e.g. for new starters), at their own pace and in their own time.

eLearning - generally thought of as rollout tool, elearning provides value for the lifetime of the system, and allows for just in time training, particularly for light users. A worthwhile investment.

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