Selecting an End User Training Partner

by Andy Klee, President, JDEtips

I still remember the first class I was allowed to teach after joining the JD Edwards Response Line in 1989. Guess which module it was.

Here's a hint: I specialized in Distribution. Which module do you think had the least possible negative impact, if it went badly? That's right--I began my JDE training career teaching Inventory Management. And it really isn't an easy class to make interesting to students--there's a lot of setup but very little end-to-end business process stuff going on. How exciting can it be to do a few adjustments, issues, and transfers--followed by a Cycle Count? Over the last 25 years, while focused on project team training, I've

gotten to know a fair amount about End User Training (EUT) as well. We've flirted with creating our own EUT practice, but early this year we decided that the best approach for us and our clients was to not provide the service directly, but rather to recommend an EUT partner, when asked.

Here are my Rules of the Road, when it comes to selecting the right EUT partner:

1. End User Training is a specialized service. Do not expect your Systems Integrator (SI) to have the sophistication and commitment to EUT that your end users deserve. Watch out, or you'll end up like one client I know, that committed all their implementation dollars to their SI, and when it came time to develop EUT materials they were told that was the job of their own SMEs. Hey, these folks just learned JDE recently, and they are now supposed to produce high quality training materials, and deliver the training--completely on their own?

2. Start the EUT project early. Do not wait until someone wakes up and says, "Hey, we're going live in six weeks, it's time to train the end users!" Of course, there's the opposite problem--starting too early. Recognize that it may not be possible to wait to start after every process has been fully tested in the prototype phase of the implementation--resulting in some rework of the EUT materials.

Work backwards from your go live date to arrive at the appropriate start date. You'll need time to (working backwards): deliver training, develop training materials, create documentation standards and templates, determine role based training paths, select the transactions and business processes that need to be documented, create an overall EUT plan, and go through the process of selecting your EUT partner.

3. Don't forget to include the post go-live sustainment phase. All the pre go-live effort will be wasted if you don't have a post go-live plan to incorporate training for new hires, new roles for existing employees, etc. Studies show that up to 30% of your company's JDE knowledge will be lost each year, if you don't address post go-live needs.*

4. Have metrics in mind at the beginning of your EUT project. How will your end users demonstrate that they are ready to go live? Will success be measured in part by the number of calls to your internal help desk?

5. Okay, points 2, 3, and 4 are not selection criteria. But quiz your potential partner on these points. If they can't articulate coherent answers, move on to someone else.

6. Discuss the End User Adoption strategy. Your EUT partner should be able to articulate a clear path to end user adoption. How will they support your Organizational Change Management (OCM) initiatives?

7. Have a realistic budget for EUT. Let's suppose you are a new JDE client, with 400 end users, implementing Financials and Distribution: General Ledger, Accounts Payable, Accounts Receivable, Fixed Assets, Inventory, Sales Order, Advanced Pricing, and Procurement. You could easily end up with a list of 600 or more transactions that end users need training on.

My rule of thumb is to expect an estimate of three to six hours to develop documentation per transaction. Pardon me while I do the math. $60/hour * 600 * 3 = $108,000. At the high end, let's assume six hours per--that's $216,000. Delivering stand up training, in addition to the documentation or eLearning, plus project management, both of which will be at a higher hourly rate, adds on another $100K-$200K. So we're looking at about $200K-$400K for a fairly straightforward EUT project.

8. Resist the temptation to do it yourself. If you are choking on the numbers above, you may be tempted to just go out and hire a $35 per hour resource, or do it yourself with existing staff. Keep the cost in perspective with the cost of the entire implementation--it's probably around 10%-15% of the total cost. Your end users are worth it. And if you think going offshore with EUT development is doable, I wouldn't risk that approach. The amount of back and forth communication to straighten out subtleties of language and culture will be both frustrating and expensive.

9. Keep the evaluation focused on people and processes, not just the tools the EUT firm has used in the past. If you absolutely love Lectora, for example, your EUT partner can hire that skill. What you should be evaluating is their track record with managing projects similar in size to yours, and the project manager that the partner is proposing.

That said, I am a fan of using a tool that provides "in-application performance support". That's a slightly fancy way of saying that when a user is in a JDE program, and needs help, there's an icon to click that takes him to some custom help--a document with step-by-step screenshots, or an eLearning simulation, for example.

10. Look for a balanced approach to end user training. Users can study eLearning simulations of transactions on their own, and then attend live classes where the end to end business processes are discussed in detail, along with answering questions about the detailed transaction documentation. Sometimes clients will use the eLearning simulations as classroom training materials.

Need a recommendation for a highly qualified JDE End User Training partner? Contact Andy Klee at Andy.Klee@JDEtips.com.

*For more on "knowledge leakage" watch the beginning of this webcast:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ba0urK4BNOY
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