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Comment vous formez des employs pour utiliser la nouvelle technologie peut dterminer le succs ou l'chec d'un projet. Voici ce qui fonctionne mieux.
How you train employees to use new technology can determine the success or failure of a project. Here's what works best.

Supply Chain Technology

3 strategies for tech training  - From the pages of Logistics Management

 

Mise en ligne le 23/03/2005

Effectively training more than 100 ware-house workers to use new technology is no small feat, as CooperVision Inc. discovered last year when it installed a voice-directed picking system in its Rochester, N.Y., distribution center.

To identify the most effective training method, the Fairport, N.Y.-based manufacturer of specialty contact lenses sent managers to tour 60 other distribution centers nationwide to see how they had handled technology training. They saw a mix of training guides, videos, presentations, vendor support, systems integrators and consultants, and "train the trainer" approaches as companies sought to maximize their technology investments. After considering all the options, CooperVision decided on a hybrid strategy that had the software vendor working on the warehouse floor with in-house trainers to bring everyone up to speed.

"From talking to other DC managers, we knew that we wanted the training to take place on-site, and that our own people should be the ones handling it," says Jeff McCaffrey, CooperVision's manager of distribution and business processes. "The end users were receptive to our own employees, who understand the business, know what we've done in the past, and understand the company's goals."

CooperVision videotaped its own pickers using the voice-directed system and hired an outside company to create a five-minute introductory training video. The learning aid worked well for the company, which runs a 24/5 operation and has little time to conduct one-on-one training.

The company also began its training well before the implementation date. "We held 'town meetings' two months in advance, complete with the videos and the [voice system] units themselves," recalls McCaffrey. Once the system rolled out in January 2004, eight users from each shift were chosen to serve as trainers. Working with the software vendor, CooperVision trained those individuals on how to use the voice-directed units via a 20 minute PowerPoint presentation and hands-on instruction, then had them share that knowledge with the rest of the workers on their shifts.

That approach quickly paid off: "They walked around with the user and made sure that person was comfortable using the new system," says McCaffrey. "Within two hours, they were flying." And because the implementation went smoothly, the company soon realized cost and efficiency benefits from its new picking system.

Three Training Options

As McCaffrey and his colleagues learned from their site visits, whether a company is installing an off-the-shelf software package, introducing proprietary software, or simply upgrading to a new version of a current system, end-user training is critical to the success of the installation. Yet many managers fall short in this area, leaving workers to flounder and figure it out for themselves, says Chris Heim, president of HighJump Software in Minneapolis. "Shortchanging end-user training before going live is the most common area where companies go wrong," he says.

To avoid falling into that trap, suggests Dwight Klappich, a vice president at Meta Group in Stamford, Conn., logistics managers should embrace technology training as an ongoing process, not a one-time event that happens when a new system is introduced.

Most companies choose one of three options for conducting initial and ongoing technology training: hire the software vendor, train the trainer, or contract with a third party, such as an integrator or consultant.

There are pros and cons to each approach. Hiring the software vendor, for example, virtually ensures that the trainer will know the program better than anyone else. But the vendor may not be familiar enough with the client's business to properly train employees.

"I don't think the vendor is the best one to handle end-user training," says Heim, who favors training users from within the company and having them teach the rest of the crew. "They know the intricacies of their environment and the personalities of the people they're working with," he says. "Additionally, if someone sees a fellow worker who is able to use the system enough to train others on it, it gives the trainees confidence that they can do it too."

Some companies bring in third parties, such as consultants or systems integrators, to handle technology training. That can be both effective and costly, depending on the implementation. "The benefit of hiring an outside firm to handle training is that the good ones have extensive experience with a variety of applications and environments," says John Sidell, principal and co-founder of Toledo, Ohio-based Esync, which provides such services. "If a company lacks the in-house resources and skill sets, an integrator can fill in those gaps."

The downside of hiring consultants is that it can get very expensive, says John Pulling, chief operating officer of software provider Provia in Grand Rapids, Mich. Expect high-quality materials and training from those who know the applications well, he says, but also expect to pay a premium for such services, which don't always result in a well-trained, independent staff of workers. "This approach doesn't prompt your employees to do ongoing training on their own, leaving the firm reliant on someone else for future training," he says.

That's why many companies, like CooperVision, have adopted a hybrid approach that combines their software vendors' technical expertise with their own staffs' hands-on experience and internal knowledge. But training the trainer isn't always the best approach, says Doug Braun, vice president of customer services for software vendor RedPrairie in Waukesha, Wis. In some cases, he says, warehouse managers may select their best worker for the job, only to find that a normally great employee is an ineffective trainer.

"Looking only at who does the job best today, then expecting them to train everyone else is not always effective," cautions Braun. "If someone doesn't have the background or skills to perform that type of human education, they could fail miserably."

Train in Advance

The fact that most software programs today are created with a wide range of educational levels and technical expertise in mind makes implementations fairly easy for warehouse and logistics personnel to masterprovided they are properly trained.

Just how much a company will shell out for that training depends on the scope of the implementation, the number of users, and what types of systems were previously in use. Braun estimates that a typical training course costs $400 to $600 per user, per day, while Heim estimates the total cost for training warehouse personnel on a new system can range from $5,000 to $100,000.

In exchange for that investment, companies receive initial, pre-installation training on the product itself and its configuration. After that, the "super-users" receive their training, which prepares them to teach other employees. Such training should take place off-site, where they can focus on the task at hand, and not be interrupted by their day-to-day duties, recommends Noah Dixon, vice president of product management at Catalyst, a Milwaukee-based software vendor.

End-user training, on the other hand, is best handled on-site, say experts. That allows them to test out a system in actual conditions before it goes live. "We think it's most effective when people are trained right in their own environment, rather than in a conference room," Pulling says.

It's wise to begin training well before a system goes live so users can experiment with it beforehand, says Heim. But training too far in advance means workers may not retain what they learn, he adds. "Too often we see companies either shortchange that early training or train too far in advance, leaving a gap. The key is to do this as close to the live event as possible."

Continue the Education

Education shouldn't stop just because initial training is finished and a system is up and running smoothly, says Rod Strata, vice president and general manager at software vendor Manugistics in Rockville, Md. Strata recommends conducting post-training assessments at intervals of six months and one year after installation to ensure that employees are not only using the system correctly, but are also maximizing its features and benefits.

"There's always an initial energy and newness to the system, when everyone is onboard and ready to go. But once workers get used to it and everything becomes second nature, the training stops," says Dixon. "It's a good idea to update super-users on a regular basis to gain a broader understanding of what the software does, and get a fresh, new set of eyes on features that you didn't even know about."

Pros and Cons of the top three training strategies
  PROS CONS
1 Training conducted by the software vendor, either on- or off-site Knows the application better than anyone else May not know the user's business and its specific industry very well
Can make last-minute changes/adjustments to the program that may help workers better use the system Will only have a surface knowledge of the company's goals, mission, and strategy as it relates to software implementations
2 Training employees who then train the rest of the staff Trainer knows his or her trainees, and is familiar with the corporate culture Person chosen may be good employee, but not a good trainer
Can lead by example for other employees who may not be sure about their ability to learn the new system If company doesn't train enough trainers, there may not be enough instructors to meet demand
3 Hiring an outside consultant or integrator A good one will possess a broad range of application knowledge across many programs Can be an expensive proposition
Trainer may also have broad industry knowledge, having worked successfully with different companies in the past Trainer may lack the application and/or industry knowledge necessary for a successful experience

Traduction direct Web. 22/03/2005, en page annexe: 3strategiespourlaformation_denouvtechnol_fr.php
Author Information
Freelance writer Bridget McCrea frequently covers logistics technology and distribution practices.

 

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