Those of us born before 1980 or so remember a time when a job involved manually tracking and logging information and customized Excel spreadsheets that only a few people understood how to use and search. We also remember random scraps of paper or neatly written To-Do items on a legal pad littering our desks, and pens, paper, expensive planners and appointment books being the critical office items for organizing and staying on task.
That all changed with the dawn of computers, and as they became more affordable and widely available, new and innovative software products were developed. One software niche that has grown exponentially over the years is the business software sector. Now, business owners have any number of products to choose from to help them automate and streamline their business practices.
The problem is that computers can only do what we humans tell them to do, so these new products brought about a new challenge in the business world: effective use of the software by their employees. After all, if people don’t use the software to its full potential, you essentially have paid for what amounts to a computerized paperweight.
This brought about a new role for software companies – trainers. After signing on the dotted line and writing the check for that new business system, the next logical step had to be showing people how it works and getting them comfortable with it. For better or worse, human beings are still a critical part of business growth, and software is simply a tool to help them do their job well.
Sounds simple, right? Well, not so fast. In the fast-paced world of industrial distribution and the level of customer service it demands, company owners and even their employees find it challenging to carve out time to develop their knowledge of the product they are using to do their job. What’s more, company owners often simply don’t make room in the budget for training. Spending for training is sometimes viewed as a low priority or inconvenience in both time and money during high-growth years, and a luxury not to be afforded during the leaner years.
Let me ask you this: Do you think a marriage runs on auto-pilot, or does it need to be nurtured and fed in order to succeed?
Like marriage, if you’ll forgive the hokey analogy, you get out of your software what you put into it.
Poor or non-existent software training adversely affects your business in terms of efficiency and employee satisfaction. What’s more, you as an owner will not be particularly satisfied with your investment in that system, because you are getting little to no return on it.
Those of us here at Tribute, Inc. have seen firsthand both the adverse effects of the lack of training and the relief that training brings to someone who has been struggling to get through the day trying their best to work in a system they don’t understand very well. The extra time spent working partially in the business system and partially outside of it, which prevents your system from doing what it was designed to do, creates huge problems for your customer service levels, inventory tracking, sales analysis, accounting….the list goes on. The calls to Customer Support alone caused by poor understanding of the system are enough to put a dent in your budget.
In addition to that, if some of your staff is already uncomfortable with technology, this will serve to further aggravate their anxiety and create stress in their everyday work. In some situations, valuable people will resign.
On the flip side, empowering your employees by providing thorough and effective training creates autonomy, reduces aggravating interruptions in their day, and keeps them efficient. When your employees are efficient, they have more time to do the really important work of your organization.
As industrial distribution owners, here is what you can do:
- When you purchase a new ERP system like TrulinX by Tribute, utilize the training hours that you purchase as a part of your software implementation package wisely. Outside of training, make sure employees are utilizing the trainer system to practice frequently before going Live. This is critical to creating not only a solid comfort level of the system, but also allows you to identify process problems before they become an even bigger problem.
- Invest in continuing education of your software solution. Most software solution providers have developed a full curriculum of online, video, and consulting services.
- Set the expectation: You will undoubtedly have some resistance from employees on learning a new system. Help them understand that you are committed to helping them get acquainted with it, and expect the same commitment from them.
- When you hire new employees, splurge for a few hours of training. In the long run, it will be less expensive for you.
- Consider making a person or two in your organization the SME (“Subject Matter Expert”), and provide the training to help them get there. Having a person in-house who can help with quick problems reduces stress immensely.
- Ask your employees frequently what they need training in, and then make room in your budget for it. A little investment now always yields a large return.
The bottom line is that if your system isn’t being utilized to its full potential, everyone loses. Consider making a good investment upfront and then periodically over time, to keep your business in the best shape it can be.
Tribute, Inc. offers ERP solutions for the industrial distributor of fluid power, fluid handling, hose and accessories, motion control, instrumentation, rubber and related products. Our implementation process is a critical component that sets the foundation for success. A structured plan, which includes process management, data migration, on-site training and Go Live, is in place to ensure your team is ready to maximize the benefits TrulinX software. Interested in learning more about TrulinX? Request a demo today.