5 Posts authored by: dbexkens

In previous parts of this series, I talked about the value of having a Learning & Adoption Strategy in place early and discussing the questions of WHO, WHERE and WHEN we should be informing and training. In today’s blog, I would like to take a closer look at the learning and adoption content. WHAT should we be training and informing about?


The WHAT considers two important areas in a successful implementation: The training content and the information content. Especially the training content creation is a vital part of the project plan and one of the most influential factors for the user ramp-up which considerably effects future system usage. The WHAT is one of the influential factors in a Learning & Adoption Strategy as it heavily impacts all other decisions. Any changes to the training content decisions require review of all other decisions:



There is an additional aspect of WHAT covered in the users’ environment, such as guidelines and methods. This will be discussed in an upcoming blog.

Training Content

The training content definition is key to the users’ future effectivity and thus on the overall success of the implementation. In addition, the training content decisions are affecting the cost for training material preparation, training duration, instructors, training classrooms or other critical resources. The picture shows the influences from the training content decisions to other parts of the Learning & Adoption strategy decisions:



Even if we normally don’t have all the detailed information in such an early phase of planning the Learning & Adoption Strategy, we can create an estimate and a list of critical resources for general project decisions. For this we use the user clusters from our strategy, defined in the WHO evaluation:


In a first step for general training content definition we estimate the duration for the user profile with the highest need of training. This top-down-estimate does not differentiate between training delivery format of instructor led training, web based training, self-studies or others. It is the total amount of training necessary for the group of roles covered as "Heavy" users:

  • Project example “CAD Data Management”: CAD Editors need 2 days of training
  • Project example “Basic PLM Implementation”: Structure Architects need 3 days of training
  • Project example “PLM Implementation”: Part Classification Architects need 4 days of training

Note: As a brief rule-of-thumb, the total duration of all training courses in one language to be prepared in a curriculum can be calculated using the factor 1.3*number of training days for heavy users. This assumes that training for light and medium users will re-use parts from the heavy user training.


Based on the estimate of the training duration for heavy users we can estimate

  • Medium Users: ca. 50% training duration of Heavy Users
  • Light Users: ca. 25% training duration of Heavy Users

This estimation for training duration per user cluster covers the entire didactical mix of introduction seminars + basic courses + advanced seminars + advanced workshops + post-go-live ad-hoc learning + self-studies.


As soon as we collect a rough guess for number of users per user cluster and a first estimate of required training per user cluster we can calculate the overall training effort and from this derive the needed critical resources, e.g. instructors or training facilities.
In part 6 of this article, we will talk about the training calculation and the didactical differences of seminars, workshops, process oriented training and standard instructor led training (the HOW).


In one of the later steps of the Learning & Adoption Needs Analysis, a so-called “Curriculum Plan” will be created. As soon as technical and implementation details are available this plan is used as the bottom-up training calculation aligned to the users’ training needs, listing all courses, their languages or the duration. There may be differences in the calculation of the top-down approach in the strategy and the detailed course list. Practice shows that the first estimates in a strategy are usually about 20% accurate – but available in a very early phase of a project.

Of course, we shall consider additional training content for supporting roles of administrators, use-case testers, hotline agents or local mentors. The training content of these groups is normally derived from the available standard training material or taken from the end user customized material, maybe still in work. Best is to consider these supporting roles as well in their training needs, but their training content preparation shall not be part of the overall effort calculation.


Information Content

The information content definition should not be underestimated. Even if the tasks on information and motivation are not in the critical path of a project plan, its influence to users or managers has a direct impact on the system acceptance, e.g. consideration in business plans, receiving and understanding training and the system’s acceptance at first usage. A well-defined information and motivation campaign should be role-based and considering local cultures.


In one of the later steps of the Learning & Adoption Needs Analysis, a so-called “Communication Plan” will be created. As soon as detailed communication needs are worked out based on the impact analysis and the organizational readiness assessment, the Communication Plan lists all the Communication Artifacts to be created and delivered, comparable to the Curriculum Plan listing all training courses.


Even if the Communication Artifacts cannot be defined in detail in the early phases of a Learning & Adoption Strategy, we can define information content clusters and derive briefly the information strategy, the timeline and the effort to be considered in the overall project plan.

For meaningful and timely information and motivation campaign, the required resources need to be calculated in an early project phase of the Learning & Adoption Strategy. These resources should include a globally responsible person for planning, structuring and orchestrating the tasks (Learning Architect), as well as communication artifact editors, document translators, video recorders or local representatives (Communication Ambassadors) covering the input of cultural influences and needs as well as delivering artifacts to the field.


For general calculation of all information and motivation activities we use a rule-of-thumb of

  • Project Type 1 "Application Data Management": ca. 0.2 hrs per user
  • Project Type 2 "Medium PDM": ca. 0.3 hrs per user
  • Project Type 3 "Basic PLM": ca. 0.4 hrs per user
  • Project Type 4 "Full PLM": ca. 0.5 hrs per user


The amount of effort for information and motivation for each single user may not be high – but consider the overall effort if there are hundreds of users and their managers that need to be informed and motivated. Example: 500 users in “Medium PDM” project need ca. 20 days for information and communication.


The estimated workload for information and motivation can be sub-structured in the typical tasks of:

  • Ca.   5% for a general Strategy of information and motivation
  • Ca. 15% for Organization and Communication Plan, incl. impact analysis, organizational readiness analysis and adoption measuring.
  • Ca.   5% for the Sponsorship and Change Team Mobilization
  • Ca. 60% for Communication Artifact Development
  • Ca. 15% for Communication Delivery and Organizational Support

With this, the effort of information and motivation can easily be estimated for being used in early phases for project planning and resource allocation.

Summary for the WHAT in a Learning & Adoption Strategy

Here are some tips to consider the WHAT defining the training and information content in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:

  1. Estimate the overall training content (total duration of all courses in one language) by using the most heavy user training duration and the factor of 1.3
  2. Consider additional languages in the training content and the effort for translation
  3. Consider the mix of didactical methods in the training content, like instructor-led or web-based or other self-studies
  4. Consider a brief estimate for information and motivation effort in early project planning
  5. Consider one responsible person for information and motivation as well as local ambassadors

The definition of the training and information content in a Learning & Adoption Strategy is an important step in the overall project plan as a critical path in a project plan. There will be no end-user trainings available if this task is not finished in-time!


In Part 6 of this article, we will talk about the next detail of a Learning & Adoption Strategy:  the training didactics (HOW).

In the first parts of this series, I talked about the value of having a Learning & Adoption Strategy in place early and discussing the questions of WHO and WHERE we should be informing and training. In today’s blog, I would like to take a close look at the learning and adoption timeline, the milestones, and discuss these in the context of the overarching implementation project plan. WHEN should we run our information and motivation campaigns and our trainings?


In the past we have seen that implementation project plans have often been created without considering the learning and adoption work stream properly. Or, if a training work stream was considered, only generic tasks like “training” are added not aligned to other project work streams.

It is important to consider Learning & Adoption tasks and milestones in the overall project plan right from the beginning. It’s one of the major mistakes in project plans seeing the “training” tasks only related to end-users and considering these tasks standalone at the end of the project. As to be seen in the picture below there are considerable Learning & Adoption activities right in the beginning of a project:



Training Milestones

The training milestones should be aligned to the project set-up and implementation tasks as well as the go-live. As a best practice we theoretically split the overall project into 3 phases and ask the typical questions:

  • Project Start: WHO shall be trained and informed, WHERE, WHEN, WHAT, HOW?
  • Technical Consolidation and Testing: WHO shall be trained and informed, WHERE, WHEN, WHAT, HOW?
  • Go-Live: WHO shall be trained and informed, WHERE, WHEN, WHAT, HOW?

With this 3-phase-structure the Learning & Adoption Strategy considers the different teams to be prepared for supporting the project, e.g. the client’s specialists are meant to be a part of the new process definition or the testing team. Finding the project teams (WHO-question at the 3 phases) the project related milestones in these phases can easily be named. In general, we are considering the following teams:

  • (client) Implementation Team
    In practice we often see requests for training short after the project start. There is a ramp-up needed in the basics of the new software for the client process specialists to be able to work together with our process and implementation specialists. These trainings are based on standard material, maybe configured using selected content to meet the general needs. It is essential to plan and schedule the needed ramp-up to be started short after the project kick-off.
  • (client) Test Team
    Shortly before the test phase starts, additional trainings are needed for testers from the practice coming in to the project. These trainings need to be customized to the implemented use-cases. Even if the training material creation process hasn’t started by this time or is still ongoing, we prepare tailored trainings by using a mix of standard content, documented use-cases retyped for training purposes or already prepared “Quick Reference Cards” to support practical use-cases and prepare the testers for executing the tests. In addition, the test execution should be supported by a well prepared list of test cases, test case documentation and support for the test-team during the tests. Only with defined and scheduled testers’ training and support the test-phase can be executed.
  • (client) Administrators
    When completing  the project and leaving the client site, the implementation team hands over all responsibility to the local administrators. We talk about two types of administrators; the IT personnel taking care of the stable and well performing server, so-called “System Administrators”, and the personnel responsible for the workflows, the processes the user maintenance and in general the implementation’s usage in the field. We call the latter “Business Administrators”.
    Training and ramp-up plans for administrators should be considered very early in the project. Experience has shown that the administrators can give valuable input in the new system´s set-up as they know “their” system inside out.
  • (client) Hotline and Mentoring Team
    For supporting the end-users a team of local mentors and/or central remote support needs to be prepared for their upcoming tasks. Related to their individual support roles, this team is ramped-up in parallel to the end-users but with broader training content to achieve a deeper knowledge and understanding. For ensuring fast implementation value a support team ramp-up schedule and aligned milestones need to be in place for team invitation and assigning the time for these critical resources.
  • (client) Adoption Team
    In an implementation with severe changes of processes and tools, information and motivation are critical to the project success. Local individuals that have been appointed to act as “Ambassadors” should be prepared for supporting the change. The ambassadors need to be informed on the global values as well as on tool usage. By having well-balanced training and information packages for the ambassadors their messages to other employees are based on own experiences and guarantee confidence and positive excitement for the change.
  • (client) Extended Team
    The influence of workers’ councils and unions should not be underestimated. In some countries it´s even mandatory to gain their approval for changing to new processes or tools and train the staff. There should be dedicated information or training activity to achieve the councils’ and unions’ support.
    Other supporting activities and departments should be involved as well, such as the Human Resources departments. The global or the local HR departments are needed for training invitation or training room booking.
    All the extended teams need to be identified (see the WHO blog) and considered in the Learning & Adoption milestones.

Even if these teams have much less personnel than the later end-users they need to be considered due to their major impact on the project success. Only by naming and considering these teams the Learning & Adoption milestones can be listed and aligned to the overall project plan.


Some major project milestones with direct impact to training milestones are:


Learning & Adoption MilestoneRelated/influencing  Project MilestoneNote
Learning & Adoption Strategy StartProject StartL&A Strategy should be part of the project set-up, definition and planning.
Project Kick-OffProject Kick-OffShould be part of the adoption program.
Training Material EditingTechnical Code FreezeTechnical and process implementations should be finished before course customization starts. In practice, the training material customization starts before the code freeze.
Training Environment ReadyTechnical Code FreezeThe final training environment is needed for aligning the training material use cases or screenshots with the environment used e.g. in lab exercises.
Training Editorial DeadlineNo direct impact from other project milestones. Important for the following training milestones.
Training Material Printing & ShippingGo-LiveCa. 2 weeks are needed for training material printing and shipping. Calculate sufficient time for printing and shipping. Consider extended time needed for shipping to other countries!
Training Room PreparationGo-LiveEven if the preparation for already existing training rooms may be a marginal task, there is only a short time-window for preparing the rooms before training starts. Each day a training room is not set-up properly can waist 10 working days from the users!
Train-the-TrainerGo-LiveThere is only a short time-window between the finished training material and the first trainings. Any TtT session should be planned early enough … and don´t forget the trainer’s trainer, a room and a training environment!
Training StartGo-LiveThis milestone is one of the most important milestones with impact to other decisions. Consider the number of trainings to be delivered in the time window and the resulting number of trainers or rooms!
User Support StartGo-LiveThe user support start can be defined as a date and a real milestone. In practice, we often realize that not all users start working on the new system at the actual go-live date because of processes, different local start dates or by users’ fear during the first days. Consider an increasing user support for the first days or weeks as an “extended” milestone.
User Support EndGo-LiveAnother extended milestone: a decreasing user support team follows the practice of decreasing user requests. There is a milestone where the project-related user support is ended and softly passing over to the daily business of user support. 


Tip: In project plans, create a dependency from technical tasks to training tasks. If technical tasks will be delayed the training tasks should be delayed as well!

Tip: In the project plans, add the training tasks to the critical path. If training task prerequisites failed in keeping their deadline the training work stream should not be made responsible for keeping the go-live date!


One of the most important relations between the technical implementation work stream and the training work stream is the milestone of “Training Environment Ready”. A simple calculation of this milestone is:

training hot phase duration = training phase + trainer and classroom prep + training material prep


In the simplified example below we can easily calculate the milestone of the “Technical Code Freeze” as related input parameter for the training hot phase:

  • x weeks of end-user training
    Depending on the number of users, user profile and training needs, training sites, …
  • x weeks of training classroom preparation
    Including trainer preparation for delivering customized trainings, room preparation and training material printing & shipping or eLearning material set-up
  • x weeks of training material preparation
    Heavily impacted on major decisions such as re-use of standard training material, grade of customization, didactical delivery methods or the need for translation of the customized training material


Calculation of milestone of the “Technical Code Freeze”:


This calculation is one of the first estimates done in a Learning & Adoption Strategy. In later project phases, this calculation will be verified and detailed, based on other decisions.

It is essential for a successful project to consider the critical path of the training “hot phase” in the overall project plan. The more client-specific implementation and customization is needed the more user-specific training material needs to be prepared. Not to mention the time needed for translating the training material in international projects!


Adoption Milestones

There are adoption milestones in parallel to training milestones. Even if the adoption tasks are very important for a valuable and successful implementation, these milestones for informing and motivating users and managers normally don´t have a direct impact on the go-live and are not in the critical project path. Examples for adoption milestones are

  • Project Kick-Off
  • Manager Information
  • User Information
  • Gathering manager input for risk analysis
  • Organization readiness check
  • Training invitation
  • Training feedback analysis


Learning & Adoption Milestones in Practice

In practice, it sometimes happens that even major milestones from the technical or process implementation are not met. The training team can absorb some time delays but only with additional resources and budget. For example, if the technical implementation is late. In this case, the training material preparation can start or being continued if already started. But finished training material needs to be reviewed and updated to represent the latest technical changes so the users can be trained according to the actual system.

In order not to delay the training milestone of the editorial deadline, additional authors need to be staffed on a short term and additional budget for review and rework tasks is needed.

Tip: Consider there are a maximum number of authors to work in parallel based on different technical topics or other editorial tasks like the translation.

Tip: Consider the author’s ramp-up time and support from the technical team if questions come up.

Note: You cannot add any number of authors for training material creation to compress this task!


Learning & Adoption Questions and Decisions Influencing Each Other

In a Learning & Adoption Strategy the decisions influence each other. When it comes to the WHEN considering the milestones, work packages and timelines aligned to other project milestones, some decisions of WHO, WHERE or HOW may need an update. So the definition of WHEN shall never been seen as a standalone task.



Summary for the WHEN in a Learning & Adoption Strategy

Here are some tips to consider the WHEN defining the milestones in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:

  1. Define the Learning & Adoption milestones as soon as possible. First, use generic tasks and durations relative to the go-live.
  2. Consider the Learning & Adoption milestones in the overall project plan.
  3. Align the required Learning & Adoption milestones to technical milestones
  4. Consider the project teams and administrators as well as end-users.


The milestones defined in a Learning & Adoption Strategy share the same importance as the milestones for the implementation or the data migration. Only well-trained, informed, motivated and supported users will contribute to the aspired project success and value. Without defined and monitored Learning & Adoption milestones the project success is at risk from the start.


In Part 5 of this article, we will talk about the next detail of a Learning & Adoption Strategy considering the training content or curriculum (WHAT).

In my previous articles, we talked about the value of having an early Learning & Adoption Strategy in place and the question of who shall be trained. In this part of my little Learning & Adoption series, we will take a closer look at the users’ sites as an influencing factor of your strategy: WHERE does our staff need to informed, trained and supported?


While your Learning & Adoption Strategy is being defined, you already need to look into the required resources. This might surprise you, but one of the most critical resources we are dealing with in training projects are the training rooms. In previous projects, we have often seen that training rooms are not available where needed. Or, if available, the rooms are already booked for months in advance. Not to mention the technical equipment which is sometimes insufficient. Often, corporate training rooms use discharged computers from the offices – which are most likely not sufficient to support hands-on trainings or workshops for new implementations.


Certainly, training rooms are only one part of the “where” to be considered in a Learning & Adoption Strategy. However, it’s essential to calculate the required rooms, check availability and reserve them as soon as possible. If the local ability to execute training is not given there will be a need to change other Learning & Adoption decisions, such as the didactical methods.  Instructor-led trainings (ILT) might need to be changed to other methods, such as Web-based training (WBT). I will discuss the HOW decisions in a separate article, and you will see that the WHERE and the HOW decisions do heavily impact each other.


For receiving a simple and useful overview on the overall local needs it has been shown as feasible to split-up into three focus areas on the WHERE:

  • Information Sites
    In general, all sites with users shall be declared as information sites. All users being affected by a system or process change shall be informed before the change appears or the training invitation is published. For proper information planning a so called “Organization Readiness Map” should be created based on a change impact analysis to see the need for information and motivation per site. The organization readiness analysis should include the nature of change and change impact containing topics of
    • Strategy: Vision, Model, Business Strategy
    • Technology: Methods, Procedures
    • Organization: Structures, Processes
    • Culture: Leadership, Communication

Based on the expected change impact and the organizational structure of a site the category of an information site can be defined, for example

    • Information sites with major impact
      "Major" information sites need a well-planned and prepared campaign, appropriate communication artifacts, a dedicated and well-trained person called “Project Ambassador” and, in addition, there should be multiple communication loops to measure the success of the information and motivation:
      define adoption goals --> plan communication --> execute --> measure --> define adoption…
    • Information sites with medium impact
      "Medium" information sites need the same communication as major sites, but may have a reduced effort of the Project Ambassador or reduced communication loops
    • Information sites with low impact
      "Minor" information sites still need appropriate communication aligned to the users’ roles and the manager´s information needs. The information and motivation campaign may be set-up mainly as a one-way-information and multiple loops are normally not necessary.


The “Adoption Site Map” shows a summary based on an organization readiness analysis:



  • Training Sites

At sites where enough users are located to fill-up classrooms of scheduled instructor-led trainings, classrooms shall be planned early. The influencing factors are

    • How many users per training path are located in a site?
    • How many classrooms of different training classes will be offered at a site?
    • Are instructors available to deliver the variety of courses at a site?
    • How many ILT training days shall be delivered at a site?
    • What is the effort to prepare a site as a training site?

As a rule-of-thumb for the calculation of a training site the following formula can be used:
hardware and network costs + preparation costs < user´s travelling costs to other training sites. Of course other influence factors shall be considered, such as the needed flexibility of users being trained on-site, future needs of on-site trainings after the project or needs from other projects.

For identifying the training sites there are some typical questions to ask:

    • How much different training is needed at this site? Will the classrooms for ILT be filled?
    • Is it a “must” having ILTs at this site? Can users at this site receive their training by other didactical methods such as WBTs or virtual training classes (Virtual Classes – VC)?
    • Can users travel to other sites?
    • Is a training room available, fully equipped and worth being called a “training room”?
    • If available: can a room be prepared as training room?

Practice has shown that a “Training Site Map” is easier to understand than tables listing this type of information:



Tip: Even if a contact person at a site confirms having a training room in place, ask for a checklist to be filled out in order to classify the training room’s equipment and evaluate in regard to the project needs. For example, ask for the number of computers, the computers´ age, the network performance, the number of chairs and tables, windows, lighting, power supply, restrooms near to the training room or beverages supply. The term “training room” is very broad, depending on whom you ask!

  • User-Support Sites

The early definition of sites where on-site mentors shall support the end-users during their first weeks of the new system’s usage is essential for calculating the training needs of the mentor user group. This user group is one of the most important factors influencing the end-users’ motivation after the go-live. Supporting the end-users means guaranteeing a successful and valuable implementation. Thus, the mentors need to be informed, motivated and trained as a separated group early and extensively.

In addition to a local mentor, a project-specific central support hotline may be planned and established. The central support hotline’s tasks are:

    • Coordinating the local mentors
    • Collecting user questions and system issues, tracking and analyzing incidents
    • Suggesting additional training or information based on the system implementation status or user requests
    • Creating and updating central FAQ information
    • Supporting the local mentors as their dedicated 2nd-level-support
    • Creating workarounds and tips & tricks and informing the local mentors
    • Supporting end-users without a local mentor at their site
    • Reporting implementation issues from the field to project management, process management and technical teams
    • Contact point for the general IT-Support

Again, a picture tells more than tables. The User-Support Map shows the number of local mentors (blue bar) needed per site/per week and the location and duration of a central support hotline (red bar):



Each of these 3 activities of training site definition, information site definition and user-support site definition needs its own analysis, estimations and decisions to be considered in the Learning & Adoption project. Especially the training site map needs higher attention, even if the effort for creating the map is less. But the impact on costs for training delivery and the impact on the training didactics are often underestimated. At the time of defining a Learning & Adoption Strategy the first draft of a training plan should be created showing how much training rooms in a certain time frame are needed at a site.

Here are some tips to consider the WHERE in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:

  1. For getting an impression of the local training culture ask for experiences from previous implementation projects. Focus on questions about the didactical mix between ILT/VC/WBT and consider the feedback in the new project.
  2. Check with corporate or local Human Resources (HR) departments if there is a team or budget for supporting change management. Involve HR as soon as possible.
  3. Contact the local unions and worker’s council as soon as possible. Check-out their influence and opinion in employee training.
  4. Check if there is already an existing key-user community in place. These key-users may be the best persons to leverage as mentors.


The estimates made in a Learning & Adoption Strategy may be accurate by +-20% only. But having some inaccurate estimates and a very early follow-on action like booked training rooms is much better than having perfect effort calculations … but too late.

The next step following a Learning & Adoption Strategy is the Learning & Adoption Needs Analysis, where the details will be worked-out. These details and decisions are the Role-based Training Plan, the Communication Plan and the User Support Plan; all based on the major decisions decided in the strategic planning, such as the already booked training rooms or suggested number of mentors.


In Part 4 of this Learning & Adoption blog series, we will talk about defining the milestones of training and end-user information projects (WHEN).

In my previous blog, we already talked about the value of having a Learning & Adoption Strategy in place early.

Today, we will talk about the people we would like to address with our strategy. In other words: Who needs to be informed and trained?


At the time when a Learning & Adoption Strategy is defined and  the  major decisions for end-user communication and training are taken, some essential information is not yet available, such as detailed role descriptions for end-users or named user lists. But for estimating the end user needs the user profiles and the expected training duration need to be taken into consideration.

This is essential in order to provide enough budget and resources but not to over calculate – and waste time and money.


For calculating the end user needs without knowing their detailed roles user clusters are being used in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:

  • User Cluster “Light Users”
    • Ca. 30% of all end users (example from PLM projects)
    • Less actively working in the system. Mostly using the system only as readers or data consumers
    • Infrequently using the system
  • User Cluster “Medium Users”
    • Ca. 50% of all end-users (example from PLM projects)
    • Actively working on the system and manipulating data or leading by influencing process steps
    • Frequently using the system, e.g. on a daily level, but only on a short duration
  • User Cluster “Heavy Users”
    • Ca. 20% of all end-users (example from PLM projects)
    • Creating data and actively influencing data and processes
    • Frequently using the system, e.g. on a daily level with several long-term sessions




Experience shows that these 3 clusters are sufficient to calculate the end user needs on a strategic level. If needed, additional clusters may be added, such as Ultra-Light Users or Ultra-Heavy Users.

These additional clusters may be used if significant differences of training duration or other factors are expected from one of the clusters of Light Users or Heavy Users.

The question of “Who shall be informed and trained” in the Learning & Adoption Strategy is answered as soon you can list the number of users per cluster, e.g.  “In total we have 123 Heavy Users to be trained. These users are clustered as Heavy Users because of … “.


Using the end user clusters, a high-level estimate can be made. Here are some tips to estimate the number of end-users in a Learning & Adoption Strategy:


  1. Look at the ROI calculations (Return on Investment).
    What are the needs and benefits that have been quoted when the management decision for the new system has been made?
  2. Look at  the number of licenses purchased or planned for the new system.
    There should have been an estimation or ROI calculation on management level in the  project’s start phase.
  3. Ask for the numbers of users used at the server sizing.
    There should have been a calculation considering the future server or network performance.
  4. Check the previous systems and ask for the end-user lists or software maintenance bills.
    But consider additional values intended in the new system by    involving additional users in the new processes supported by the new system.
  5. If available, ask for the process descriptions, storyboards, test-cases or procedures.
    These documents can give you an impression how the new system is meant to be used, the inclusion of different departments and the impact of the new system and the processes involved.


One of the next steps in the Learning & Adoption planning would be the Needs Analysis. This will refine the details, such as actual number of users per site, the detailed learning paths and training content per path related to the end-user roles or the communication flow. Thus, there will be additional opportunities to influence numbers on multiple levels defining the needs and a communication plan, curriculum plan or training and user support plan. In practice we have seen that even differences of +-10% in the user cluster estimates made in the Learning & Adoption Strategy only influence the overall final work package by 2-3%.


However,  for providing management with early information and estimates on effort and timeline for end user enablement in an efficient way, it´s essential to know the actual number of users as early as possible. This number is one of the major drivers for most of the other decisions in a Learning & Adoption Strategy, such as WHERE, WHEN, WHAT, and HOW.


Stay tuned for a follow up blog discussing  another detail of a Learning & Adoption Strategy, the WHERE.

In practice it´s often seen that project plans, governance structures and even ROI calculations (Return on Investment) focus on hard facts, such as software cost, process benefits, implementation and customization efforts and rather neglect the “soft” topic of user adoption. So many projects initially do not consider the full efforts required for getting the users up to speed, and – likewise important – to get their buy-in for the new solution in order to avoid unnecessary downtime before and after the go-live which heavily impacts  the expected value.


Adding additional budget in the late project phases usually forces project managers to save effort and budget in other ways or limit adoption budgets to the minimum which heavily adds risks to the project success. In addition, important project milestones need to be moved out if the needs for user training are not considered early enough. This could even result in a delay of the  go-live.


Here are some reasons why you should build your Learning & Adoption Strategy early:


  1. Budget needs for end-user information, motivation and ramp-up
    An estimated 20 % of the budget is required to realize a basic but effective Learning & Adoption program. This budget will support general project decisions around internal information flows and end-user motivation and education. A Learning&Adoption Strategy defines the information and ramp-up needs, milestones, effort and with this the budget needs for this upcoming important project task.

  2. Defined project milestones considering end-user needs
    General project milestones should be defined and reviewed with project stakeholders for accurate project controlling. The milestones of the Learning & Adoption work stream such as  milestone “Training Server” should be  aligned to technical milestones, e.g. “Code Freeze”.

  3. Risk Management for Go-Live
    Considering the Learning & Adoption needs, and having all internal team ready to support the implementation, the risk of project failure is minimized. Only with well prepared and motivated end-users the intended major project goals can be achieved, including process changes, and ultimately, financial goals.

  4. Saving time and money
    A well planned training process results in minimized user downtime and keeps the business projects on plan. The early knowledge of costs and needed man-power to be spent in end-user training activities or supporting ramp-up tasks allow managers to consider and influence the company results.


If a long-term implementation project is planned, the Learning & Adoption Strategy should be part of the initial project planning and general mobilization phase. This may be even 1-2 years before a go-live. The average preliminary lead time for a Learning & Adoption Strategy for typical PLM software implementation projects is 7-9 months.



In a Learning & Adoption Strategy, some important questions for end-user enablement shall be considered:


  • WHO to be informed and trained (user-roles, number of users)
  • WHERE to train and inform (user sites and training sites)
  • WHEN to inform and train (training and information milestones)
  • WHAT to train (training curriculum)
  • HOW to inform and train (training and information format and didactical methods)
  • WHY to train (consideration of corporate goals in the Learning & Adoption Strategy)


Based on these questions the Learning & Adoption Strategy will define general decisions regarding end-user enablement. These decisions will guide later project steps being part of the overall picture, such as the communication plan, the training plan, the user support plan, the training curriculum definition or the early management information and training team staffing.


Here are 3 general rules of thumb for a successful Learning & Adoption Strategy:


  1. Establish and plan a Learning & Adoption Strategy early enough
    Only if a Learning & Adoption Strategy has been defined, the full project output can be considered i.e. only then an overall project budget calculation, ROI consideration or project milestones will be meaningful.

  2. Ask experienced specialists for executing the  Learning & Adoption Strategy
    The execution of a Learning & Adoption Strategy requires specialists in planning and execution of a go-live event. This includes practical knowledge of information and motivation of managers and end-users as well as training planning, mentoring estimation or definition of didactical methods. This requires more than just asking an instructor from previous implementations estimating the training costs or copying budget estimations from other projects. Every project is unique and only a tailored approach may lead to results.

  3. Discuss the Learning & Adoption Strategy
    As a project sponsor or a project ead, ask the Learning & Adoption Strategy leader to explain the decisions and suggestions. In an open discussion the major influencing factors can be modified, e.g. for following a design-to-cost solution. If you have the lead in creating the Learning & Adoption Strategy, you should plan for a kick-off meeting to  define  the key-performance-indicators (KPI) influencing the end-user ramp-up and performance  to shape the expectations of your management.


To avoid issues with end-user enablement, reducing the overall project and implementation risks and finally ensure the expected project goals, the Learning & Adoption Strategy is a vital part of the project set-up. Experience shows that most of the successful implementation projects contained a well-planned and executed end-user training and motivation work stream.

In Part 2 of this article, we will discuss more details of a Learning & Adoption Strategy in respect to end user profiles and number of users (WHO).

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