EDI veteran R.T. Crowley writes in his book "EDI Charting A Course To The Future" the following about EDI Training.
Training is, the single issue that is most often forgotten planning an EDI system.
We tend to be so eager to get into the "gadgetry" of the system that we may overlook
the fact that we need to have people trained to use it. We can make our EDI system
as close as possible to the paper-based procedures that staff is accustomed to using,
but it will still be perceived by them very different. We will therefore need to
arrange for training in EDI operation and theory...
Plans for training the staff that will have to use the EDI system should be started
as soon as we have made the commitment to create the system. In order to derive the
greatest benefit from the system, our company should be prepared to use it from the
very first day. We will not be able to do this unless the staff is properly trained,
and they cannot be trained if we have no program in place to do it. Training should
be an integral part of the EDI system from the outset. It should not wait until the
system is ready to be implemented.
The specific techniques of training in general would be best left to your company's
training manager, that part of the Personnel Department concerned with training, or
a professional training consultant retained by your company, and you should be prepared
to work within that structure to provide information on the way the EDI system works
and the theory behind it. The trainers will need this information to prepare course
materials and lesson plans if the training is going to be conducted in a formal manner.
If a more informal setting is envisioned, you may find yourself working with the
professionals to develop means by which you will train your company's staff in either
small "classroom" or one-on-one settings. Either method is valid. The important issue
is to get the information to those who must use it in a manner they can understand.
When planning the training phase of an EDI implementation there are a number of points
that must be covered. We will present them here in no particular order, for they are
all of equal importance, and that is to say that all are of PRIMARY importance to the
success of our EDI system. These points are:
The training should focus on the particular skills and knowledge that the staff
will need to deal with the EDI system. This should also include some discussion
of the theory behind the system.
The training should include a detailed discussion of the goals and objectives
that the company is trying to accomplish with the system.
All employees that will use the system should receive the same high level of training.
This MUST include the staff that will use the system on a day-to-day basis, as well as
temporary and new employees, and all SUPERVISORS and MANAGERS that will be dealing with
A training program on the EDI system must also be set up for the senior executives
(directors, vice-presidents, and the president) of the company to teach them what
the company is doing. This should include some hands-on training in the operation
of the system.
The training should be regular. Training sessions should be scheduled in advance,
and held on a regular basis so they become part of the normal work routine.
Attendance at a specific set of training sessions related to their job should
be mandatory for all employees, and supervisors/managers should be tasked with
insuring the attendance of those who report through them.
The training should be ongoing. Training sessions should never be a one-time event.
Constant retraining and crosstraining should be a part of the program for the
EDI system just as it should be for ALL training programs in your company.
The amount of time and money that is expended in a training program should be equal
to the amount of increased productivity that you expect to get out of the EDI system.
Training should not only take place in formal classroom settings, or at specified times.
Constant on-the-job training should be part of the plans as well, and supervisors or
managers should be trained in the specific techniques of this.
All employees should have the opportunity to attend the training sessions on a voluntary
basis regardless of their specific job within the company, and incentives for them to do
this should be provided.
The initial training sessions should stress the goals that the company has set in
implementing the EDI system. The eminent management consultant Tom Peters has said,
"Training [should be] used to herald a commitment to a new strategic thrust."
The implementation of a new EDI system represents just such a strategic thrust,
and the training program should reflect that.
The staff should have a hand in the development of the training program. The employees
should be aware that they have a real stake in the successful implementation of the system.
The training should be used to encourage employees to use their creativity to make the system
better, and not to discourage them from making suggestions. The system should never be presented
as "fixed in stone". The staff should be made aware that their input into the development of
the EDI system is important to the company. As we said earlier, "No one understands a given
business procedure better than those who are doing it". The staff should be aware of this
attitude on the part of management, and encouraged to assist as much as they are able.
It is impossible to stress training enough in any discussion of any type of management
methods. The amount of knowledge that we give our staff about the tools and techniques
that they will use in their jobs is directly proportional to the production we can expect
from them. The statement is an absolute. If we expect people to do a job, we must give
them power to do it, and there is no other way to do that other than to TRAIN them!