Customized, Role-Based Learning in PLM Adoption

When an enterprise is rolling out new software, it’s doing more than just introducing new technology into the environment. It’s affecting the way people do their daily work, sometimes quite dramatically.

Some people move quickly to adopt new tools and processes, but many do not. Resistance to change is natural, and the basic approach companies often take with software rollouts—a few emails with links to online training courses about the new technology—is rarely sufficient to ensure smooth and timely adoption.

To ensure successful adoption of new enterprise technology such as product or service lifecycle management software, companies need to take a more holistic view of changes in people, processes, technology, and culture.

Perhaps most importantly, they should take time to create role-based learning programs that focus specifically on how different people need to use the new technology. After all, product designers use PLM applications quite differently than colleagues in program management, supply chain, or finance.

In my own experience, I have seen successful companies emphasize three keys to adoption.

First, they develop a strategy and program to raise awareness with executives and end users of the impending changes in technology and processes. The goal is to help everyone understand and get ready for how they will be affected by the new software, what expectations they will face, and what training and support will be available before, during, and after the rollout.

Second, they create learning programs to support the change, with the intent of giving users and managers the skills and knowledge they will need to work effectively with the new tools and processes.

The best programs are customized to support different people in different roles, with a focus on teaching people what they need to get their jobs done in the new environment. They are also customized with a view toward personal and cultural preferences. For example, some people prefer in-person, instructor-led training classes while others prefer web-based approaches for self-paced learning.

This all requires real planning to ensure the timely creation of customized content and activities rather than relying on off-the-shelf programs and materials that simply highlight technology features and functions.

Finally, some of the most progressive companies are taking advantage of new “embedded learning” tools that allow users to learn about new tools and processes right while they are doing their work. Rather than schedule training weeks in advance or squeeze in online courses during off-hours, companies are making training materials available within the new applications so users can learn on the fly. This is especially valuable with new software deployments across large organizations where needs, schedules, and learning styles vary dramatically.

Organizational adoption of new technology is never easy, but building awareness of the change in advance, creating role-based programs, and taking advantage of “embedded learning” tools and techniques can greatly improve your chances.

What has your organization done to ensure adoption of new technology? Any tips for success?

Learn more about PTC’s approach to Enterprise Learning Programs for PLM.

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Photo: US Army, Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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