People tend to push back on training: it's boring, it's time-consuming, it takes them away from their "real" jobs. But proper training is a crucial component in both the initial and the ongoing success of your SAP Ariba system. Here are three ways to structure training so it's targeted, impactful, and self-directed.
In the previous articles in this Change Management series, we’ve discussed a few important topics, each of which led into the next:
The next big component is training the users.
That’s not my opinion, but it is my experience that many people approach training with a less-than-enthusiastic attitude. That’s because they often envision training as sitting in a room watching slides for an hour or two a day – and they still must keep up with their actual work, which adds to their reluctance to participate.
But there are ways to make training targeted, impactful, and self-directed, so you don’t have to spend your time trying to herd reluctant people into a conference room.
We talk a lot about Best Practices in the CCP Global blog. When it comes to training, Best Practice is for the leaders of the organizations that are going to experience the most change, like procurement and AP, to understand and rank the skill sets of their teams. For the most effective change management, it’s important to understand the group, where they are in their careers, and their current and projected skill sets.
In other words, training should never be a one-size-fits all approach, because that’s a waste of time and resources for everyone.
For example, if you have a team of 10 people you need to look at them as individuals. Say one is has been discussing retiring soon, and even if they’re interested in learning something new, training that person might not be the best use of resources. But maybe two of the team members are new hires and they have great expectations and want to advance, so they’re going to be hungry for this information. They’re a great long-term investment and they’ll be eager to take advantage of the tools.
From these evaluations you’ll create a ranking or score card on the skill set of the team. Then, the person or persons in charge of change management can make determinations on the path forward. In this example, the Change Management team may train the two new people and those two will then be responsible for training the rest of the 10-person team.
Or they may find that the AP team has a lot of experience and know the skills backward and forwards. Training them could equate to just focusing on what they do today and what that’s going to look like in the new system.
On the other hand, the team in Procurement might be new to the company or their process may drastically change. In that case, they will need Basic 101 training that takes them through every step.
Along the same lines, when we’re talking about these functional teams and targeted training, we need to tailor the training to the task.
If the legal team is only going to be clicking “approve” on contracts, there’s no need to set up a formal power session to tell them everything there is to know about Ariba. We want to be able to say: this is what the process looks like today, but tomorrow you’re going to log in and you’re just going to do this instead.
Other teams, such as AP or Procurement, might be looking at a big change to their processes, which requires a lot more, and a lot more detailed, training.
Two things are important here. The first is to understand the department’s processes. For example, if a department has five main functions, then it’s probably best to divide the training up into those five functions. If there are three functions, divide it up into three.
Even then, some functions might only require 30 mins of training, some functions might require 4 hours. The best approach is to understand and modulize to make the training digestible.
The second important point goes back to the Communication. When we’re talking to those functional teams, especially when it gets to the training phase, we want to be able to reinforce the mission and vision. That means WHY we’re doing this, WHERE we are in the process, WHEN we need to bring them in, and so on.
Be sure they understand that the reason for the automation is because what they’re doing is so important and this will improve it in these ways. There needs to be a through line for how what they will be doing in Ariba matches up with what they’re doing now, even if the actual processes are different.
We want to make sure we understand what they do, translate that into a plan of what they’re going to do tomorrow, divide it up into these digestible chunks and deliver it as such.
Getting back to the idea that training is a drag, if everyone is called into a conference room and must sit there for 2 hours, there will be a lot of crucial information they won’t remember or absorb.
What’s important is the bullets.
I once was assigned to a large firm that had implemented Ariba, only to find, months later, that there was very little compliance. Most users were still going around the system and doing things the old way.
I discovered that they didn’t understand how to do their specific tasks. Their training had consisted of too much of a general overview of Ariba and not enough focused training.
Ultimately, we took a multi-pronged approach. We worked with a firm that would take a slide deck and put it into a video slide show with a voice over that showed a specific process. We asked that each video be 1 to 1.5 minutes long.
We also created quick reference guides that, were one to three pages long, at most.
That made it simple. Need to open an order? Just follow the video or follow the steps in the quick reference guide. Need to cancel an order? That’s another video or another quick read.
So, if they just need to, say, cancel a purchase order, instead of sitting through 2 hours of training learning everything there is to know about a purchase order, they just watch 1-minute video. Or read a one-page PDF.
The help desk needs to be on board with reinforcing this self-training too. If someone does open a ticket because they didn’t feel like watching a minute of a video, I would train my help desk to attach the quick reference guide and tell them to read it because they need to be able to self-serve. They shouldn’t be sitting at their desk saying I can’t figure this out so I’m going to ask a question. They should be able to click on the video or open the pdf and do what they need to do.
One of the goals of Ariba is to make every person self-directed, but only targeted training will ultimately achieve that autonomy.