A couple of my clients use Dynamics GP. So, I monitor related forums for tips and tricks. Recently, a user (a GP All Star and legend in the making) asked how he could convince his CFO (who was all about hard dollars) to send their accounting folks to the GPUG Summit.
The issue is important enough to merit another blog post. (In December, I touched on the topic of user training in my post, What to Get Your Finance Team for the Holidays.)
User Training = Higher Satisfaction
But before I get into monetary justifications for user training, let me provide you with anecdotal evidence. Generally, I’ve found that clients that send users for training (whether user group gatherings or other types of training) are far happier with their software than clients that don’t.
It’s not just a matter of getting answers to user questions. Rather, it about getting answers to questions users didn’t even know they had (e.g. how to track benefits more easily, which third party software rarely works, cool ways to use Excel with your ERP, etc.).
How to Quantify the Value of Training
But clearly, this GP All Star will need more than anecdotal evidence to convince his CEO. So here are few quantifiable rationales:
1. Save short-term hard dollars by cutting support costs.
If your firm spends a lot of time on the phone with third party consultants, you may be able to justify conference attendance with a reduction in expenses elsewhere. Perhaps a lower consultant invoice will offset the costs of the training.
But still, conferences don’t come cheap. You have to include not only registration but also travel and time out of the office. The $1,000 three-day conference registration fee can easily run to $3,000 when you take everything into consideration.
Of course, consultants aren’t cheap either. And it may help your case to identify areas where you can say, “We shouldn’t need outside support for these basic questions.”
2. Save longer-term hard dollars by solving a business problem.
With this rationale, you’re using conference attendance to accomplish a business goal, not cut outside costs. The goal could be something like implementing a faster close or finding a better way to present data.
The advantage of this rationale is that the payoff for solving a business problem is potentially much larger than the payoff for cutting support costs. For example, if you can shorten your close from two weeks to one, the positive implications can reach across an entire organization.
The caveat is that management has to buy into the business goal. They have to feel the pain of the problem. Many executives won’t pay for conference attendance/training when they think everything’s working just fine.
3. Put the cost of conference attendance in context.
ERP software is hugely expensive. A mid-size client can easily spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on software, consulting and support. Does it make sense to spend all that money and then leave your own people to just “figure it out”?
I’d love to see some real data on training and conference attendance. It’d be great to compare companies that invest in training vs. those who don’t, and whether certain types of conferences are better value than others.
If you’ve seen any good articles on these topics, let me know.