Déjà Vu In The Work of System and ERP Training

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Life never gets boring in our industry. Even after over two decades of working as a trainer, I’m still surprised how resistant to change we can be… Recently, Allen completed an 8 month long study of the systemic Instructional gaps in the world of system training. I had déjà vu to a similar endeavor we undertook in the past around the issue of compliance training. More specifically, we looked at areas where the lack of training, or lowering its design level to basic documentation, could have negative ramification for our corporate clients. Let’s be clear, rarely is this lowering of the training level a design or staff issue, but more of a corporate dynamic. In the case of compliance, such as legal restrictions, ‘check the box’ thinking and the belief that we are imparting knowledge not changing behavior can deform our approach.

In the world of system training, it should not surprise us that business analysts have low expectation around the success rate of ERP training initiatives. Panorama Consulting Solutions recently assessed the outcomes of nearly 200 worldwide ERP implementations and found the vast majority not only take longer and cost more, but most are viewed as failures due to lack of proper adoption and on-going usage (You can download their 2010 ERP Report to learn more).

Our research has shown that most system training projects we’ve encountered:

  1. Lack  real job context and scenarios
  2. Tend to focus on too many processes, and confuse and distract learners
  3. “Screen capture” approaches such as “see it, try it and do it,” often become abbreviated to simple “see it” documentation and the rest is left to on-the-job training
  4. For many projects system training is an offshoot of the technical documentation and standard operational plans, with a lack of curriculum design or a coherent blended learning approach
  5. Not much of a hand over between the business process analysts of the change management process and the training groups takes place. The internal training groups are rarely designed to scale to accommodate these large projects
  6. And lastly when it comes to training, the system implantation budget stops in the live date of the implantation. Not much thought or budget is allocated to continual training and error correction, or the on-boarding and up-skilling of users when new changes to the system are introduced


Like I mentioned in the outset, this in not an instructional issue, per say, or even an issue with the technology. Approaches that seek to emulate or sandbox the critical system processes exist. What we found in our own gap analysis on this issue is that the problem exists in the change management process. What I mean is, while in the world of product, sales and leadership training we take a systemic curriculum approach, this same approach isn’t being applied to system training. Moreover unlike other areas of training, and much like in my compliance example, we don’t seem to have a clear continual remediation and support model for systems training. It is telling for us that the technologies in the market for system training focus on document management and screen capture approaches.  We’ve summarized some of these issues in our “What’s eating ERP integration” white paper.

Never to shrink from a challenge, 4 months ago we asked our design team to adapt our current approaches to create a performance-based model to address the issues in system training. While focused mainly on large scale ERP training, the Allen System Assure Process is a great template for our clients and peers in the industry to follow. Much like the analysis and design model we applied to our DesignJot iPad app, it helps us work with our partners to analyze, define and deliver an approach that can overlay the existing change management processes in large system training projects. All of our workflow and learning portals have been aligned to maximize ramp-up and continual on-going training for systems implementations.  Moreover, in partnership with leading industry integrators we are continuing to collect data, and a deeper understanding, of the financial models that make a move to a Systems Assure process an exciting innovation in our industry.

You can learn more about Systems Assure, by Allen, by clicking here.



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  1. I would love to hear to stories about successsful ERP implementation that extend beyond the technology working. It’s been my experience that the change management team has to be the bridge between the system integrators designing the system and the end users.

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  2. I couldn’t agree more.
    My work and research over the last 5 years have brought me to realise the enormous impact of real time support system for both real time learning and performance support. Training sets goals for a pre defined competency gap before that gap has actually occured leading most of the time to poor results. The real learning occurs in real time and this is where we should invest more effort

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