The nature of training on enterprise systems
“That would depend completely on your definition of ‘completely’,” I replied.
The challenge with enterprise products like TimeControl is that they can be configured to be so many different things for so many different people. The strength of TimeControl is its flexibility. This allows TimeControl to be a multi-purpose timesheet serving the needs of many different perspectives within the organization. It can be used for time and attendance, time and billing, project management tracking, earned value, government compliance for R&D tax credits or the DCAA. And all this from the same interface at the same time.
Yet not every organization is created the same. Not every organization requires the same types of functions or tracking. Even when two clients have a similar product to like to like SAP or MS Project, those products are not configured identically either. So each implementation of TimeControl is often unique. Oh there are common elements but there are many elements that are different and not everyone even uses the same functionality.
What we’ve discovered here at HMS when we apply this challenge to training is that training is best done in layers. The first layer or phase occurs during the original implementation. If our technical staff assist with the implementation, we train the administration staff as we make decisions together on how to configure the system. This has a high degree of success but does it mean that these administrators are “completely” trained?
If your definition is, “The administrators should be able to operate TimeControl in accordance with the configuration and existing processes we have defined at the time of implementation.” then the answer is Yes.
But, let the company advance for 6 months or a year even and we find that the level of maturity in the use of TimeControl in the organization is now such that the types of questions the client would ask have evolved. Now there are questions on functionality that would have never been asked during the original implementation because the questions are now able to be understood or because the organization itself has evolved to have new timesheet requirements.
This isn’t unique to TimeControl. We’ve seen similar phenomena when we look at project scheduling tools like Primavera, Open Plan or Microsoft Project Server.
Our view is that training should be an ongoing investment. Do a little less on the first day than you’d expected. Let that training soak in; be absorbed; be implemented in practice. Then having a trainer come back or do another remote session for a few hours. Use that to advance your own knowledge but also to advance the capabilities used of the software. As new administrators come on board over time, they’ll naturally just take up training that is regularly scheduled.
Doing training in phases or layers ultimately gives the best return on investment.
Microsoft has published another article of mine on TechNet. This article is called “Cancelling your project without cancelling your career and will be of interest to both project managers and timesheet administrators as well, of course, to those managing stage gating processes, project management offices and project portfolios Continue reading
Microsoft has published an article of mine on TechNet. This article will be of interest not only to project managers but also those deploying and configuring timesheet systems as it looks at how to determine how many charge codes to have and to what level of detail charge codes should be defined. See this post for all the links and details. Continue reading
HMS Software has just released TimeControl 6.5 and it represents a major evolution of TimeControl. HMS has added a major new reporting-writing engine, a completely new link option for linking to their new alliance partner Hard Dollar’s HD project cost and estimating system and significant improvements in both performance and other functionality. See this blog post for more information. Continue reading