E-Training: When Employees Crash on New Software

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 06-14-2007

E-Training: When Employees Crash on New Software

Sometimes in shifting to new systems as a result of an acquisition or merger, companies don't always have time to bring their users up to speed on how to make the most of the new software.

Case in point: Dade Behring Holdings, the world's largest company dedicated exclusively to clinical diagnostics. In 1996, Dade Behring (then called Dade International) purchased DuPont's diagnostic business with an eye to expanding its leadership in clinical chemistry.

That same year, the company began switching from a DuPont-developed system to an SAP Flexible Planning Module. Unfortunately, once it got off the DuPont system, Dade Behring, which offers a range of products, services and systems designed to meet the needs of medical labs, discovered there were problems in getting users to adjust to the new software. "We had our first experience with training in using the SAP module," says Bill Magagna, global Instructional System Design (ISD) lead for Dade Behring.

The implementation was hardly a success. In fact, because it couldn't get its users up to speed on the SAP system, Dade Behring for eight months was unable to update forecasts on the system, according to an article by John Dougherty, a senior partner at manufacturing and educational consultancy Partners for Excellence who did consulting work for Dade Behring. New forecasts had to be generated manually.

Fortunately, Dade Behring managed to surmount this obstacle. Since then, it has continued to roll out new and updated applications, including additional SAP modules as well as internal sales and services applications from Siebel Systems, now owned by Oracle. "The objective was to leverage an interactive, real-time training program. OnDemand Software was the solution," says Susan Klein, Dade Behring's director of I.T. portfolio management, referring to a vendor.

More specifically, Dade Behring has had to ensure that more than 3,000 end users employees who speak a variety of languages and serve in key customer support areas including customer management, logistics and finance& could quickly get up to speed when new software came into play. "It's our job to make sure every employee is knowledgeable and comfortable with the software applications they need to provide the best customer service," Klein says.

Given that end-user adaptation, or lack thereof, is a major reason for failed implementations, this was one of those challenges that can make or break a company.

Lesson Learned

Lessons Learned

For its most recent training initiative, which began several years ago and is ongoing, Dade Behring selected OnDemand Personal Navigator from OnDemand Software, the King of Prussia, Pa.- based division of Global Knowledge. "OnDemand Personal Navigator served as the backbone of the end-user support solution to the different business areas and customers," Magagna explains.

OnDemand Personal Navigator, a synchronized platform, supports all phases of a software rollout project life cycle from blueprinting, design, configuration, testing, simulation and documentation, to training and ongoing learning support. Its complementary product, OnDemand Knowledge Pathways, rounds out the solution with a content/knowledge repository to manage training materials.

The platform enables developers to create content in multiple languages, an essential feature for a global company such as Dade Behring. It also delivers multiple types of output as required by each member of the project team for each phase of the project life cycle. "All of the training materials are role-specific, providing users with just the information they need to know to get their job done," says Diane Seghposs, an OnDemand spokeswoman. These outputs include business process documents, test scripts, simulations, training manuals and performance support.

Perhaps the platform's most important feature, Magagna says, is that it enables companies to drive change management and achieve organizational readiness. "With a single functional group, we were able to use one solution to spearhead the company initiative of training the end users and deploying the new system," he says. "We set as our goal, effective and efficient training material. And we drove standards throughout the instructional design cycle, from assessment to evaluation. All work procedures, training and documentation going forward were to be version-controlled and quality-certified."

Typically, end users start the learning process with live instructors in a training facility, which can be situated either at a customer site or at an OnDemand location. "Training events occur at multiple sites at the same time," Magagna explains. From there, end users continue their education virtually, accessing the software from the Internet or downloading it to their desktops. Content developers also receive a disk as part of the training process for developing content. The end users train through OnDemand, and do not receive disks.

In each functional business area, Dade Behring has an "expert user" in place who can help users get up to speed on the system, brief them on systems changes, work with new hires, and help users execute a particular function that is integral to their jobs. "As an example," Magagna says, "someone in manufacturing might use the platform to learn about ordering, consuming and restocking raw material with electronic signatures. Each business area creates instruction and hands-on exercises based on specific job descriptions and business process flows."

With OnDemand, Dade Behring authors create training content in conjunction with Dade Behring's I.T. staff. Whenever there is a change to the system, the OnDemand content is updated. There is a stringent protocol and formal regulatory process for every step of the update process, according to Klein.

"We currently maintain an authoring community of more than 100 authors and instructors throughout the global community," Magagna says. "We utilized internal resources throughout the project. Subject-matter experts in each business area served as content developers and instructors. This required support and planning as well as ownership of the change management effort."

"We have more than 100 product content experts who had input into the OnDemand system," Klein adds. "Building the database required an initial investment in support and planning, followed by ongoing content ownership across the organization."

OnDemand's "live" courses emphasize content authoring, and deal with everything from creating an outline to covering best practices and items that need to be considered in course development. Additionally, OnDemand offers online courses for those who are responsible for the installation of the application and deployment of the published content.

Report Card

Report Card

According to Magagna, OnDemand has delivered as promised on a number of different fronts. "Across the board, there has been complete user acceptance in the classroom," he notes. "Our internal people liked the training."

More important, they're making the most of it, Magagna points out. "Since go-live, there have been 235 separate learning events, including certification for refreshers, new hires and changing business processes online just dealing with our SAP suite," he says.

Rapid user adaptation has been possible as well with Dade Behring's Siebel apps (Americas Siebel Sales and Global Siebel Service), thanks to the combination of classroom learning and virtual follow-up. "Self-directed remedial training following classroom instruction has been used a rate of two learning events per week prior to going live," Magagna says. "The good thing is that users are able to train online at a time that's most convenient for them."

"Training excellence is ensured, and that's vital to the company's customer excellence objectives," Klein points out. "Not only is training content consistent and accurate, but the process is intuitive."

Dade Behring is so pleased with the learning platform that it is growing its investment in the tool on a global scale and moving to training customers with it as well, according to Magagna.

And the price is right. "Costs when calculated per employee were about 40% of vendor proposed costs at the outset of the project in our manufacturing suite," he says. In fact, in one instance a major international consultancy that Magagna won't identify proposed costs that proved to be 10 times what the company ended up paying.

By any diagnosis, OnDemand turned out to be a bargain, and Dade Behring is reaping the benefits.

Dade Behring Base Case

Dade Behring Base Case

Dade Behring

1717 Deerfield Rd., Deerfield, IL 60015

Phone Number:
(847) 267-5300


Engages in the development, manufacture and sale of clinical diagnostic instruments, consumable supplies and services to clinical laboratories worldwide.

James Reid-Anderson

Chief Technology Officer::
Mark Wolsey-Paige

Instruct a worldwide workforce to effectively use new software, and to keep them current with upgrades and changes.

Baseline Goals:

  • Train more than 6,000 employees to use enterprise applications.
  • Reduce cost of user training.
  • Enhance training efficiency.

Leave No User Behind

Leave No User Behind

Even the best systems training software isn't going to ensure that users make the most of an enterprise application that's being rolled out.

So says Heidi Spirgi, president of Knowledge Infusion, a Minneapolis-based human capital management technology consulting firm. "There are really four main factors that determine whether a rollout will succeed planning, training, communications and internal marketing," Spirgi says.

"Often a CIO will only see I.T-related problems and issues in bringing users on board, but it's really a holistic process," she adds. "The company has to communicate to its employees as to why the new technology is important to the organization's success and how it can benefit the employees themselves."

Step-by-Step Plan

To ensure success, organizations should plan out each phase of the training, including the instructional material, the methods of bringing users on board (virtual training, live classroom or "brown bag" sessions, CDs, or a mixture of all three), and the means of gauging whether the training has been successful and is being retained. "A lot of times, organizations don't dedicate enough resources and time to planning. It's often an afterthought," Spirgi says.

In best cases, training is carried out by a project team made up of both technical and functional representatives and headed up by a project manager, according to Spirgi. "The functional representatives people from various business units] bring the business concerns to the table," she says. "The I.T. people, in turn, work and plan to ensure that those concerns, as well as the I.T. requirements, are met during the training process."

Typically, too, the team will include someone from corporate communications to create a marketing plan. "The goal of a marketing plan is to get employees to buy into the training, and understand how the new apps can ultimately benefit them and ultimately improve technology adoption rates," Spirgi explains.

It's often a senior executive who presents an overview of the plan to employees. Recently, Spirgi worked with a corporate client that used its HR director to describe a new enterprise application. "She explained why the company had chosen that particular software, how it aligned with company goals and its significance to the employees," she says.

The Resistance Factor

Employees should be provided with some clear motivation to make the most of the new software, Spirgi argues. There should also be a feedback mechanism in place to gauge what works and what doesn't in terms of effecting change management and acceptance.

Spirgi, however, is quick to concede that all this doesn't mean that end users are all going to welcome the changes with open arms. "A company's workforce usually consists of 30% to 40% 'resisters,' employees who because of fear, stress and other factors create internal resistance to new technology," she points out. They can be won over, Spirgi says, but only when they understand that the new technology isn't going to make their lives and jobs harder, but easier and more productive.

Three Tips for Successful


Three Tips for Successful Training

  • Create an early understanding and buy-in for organizational changes that will accompany new technology.
  • Educate, motivate and inspire the workforce to adopt a new solution through a carefully designed and executed launch communication plan.
  • Gain buy-in at all levels of the organization.