Saturday, February 23, 2013

Estimating the Cost of Dynamics CRM Implementations: Part 6 -- Training

No software implementation is successful without adoption, and most enterprise solutions require training in order to be adopted.    Training is often shortchanged in Dynamics CRM and xRM implementations. 

You should include training in your project plan, and start work on training materials as soon as use cases are created for the solution.     Analysis, development, testing, and training all should be tightly connected so you end up training to the requirements and usage scenarios you have identified.

Several options are available for training on CRM, including:
  1. Custom hands-on classroom training in a lab environment, tailored to your specific implementation. This is the most intensive and expensive option, but is appropriate in many cases, especially for critical and complex solutions.
  2. Standard CRM classroom training.  Microsoft authorizes training centers around the world to deliver the standard approved training for its products. 
  3. Video training.  The content may be similar to classroom training and even allow exercises and interaction.   One advantage is that it can be done at any time, and the cost does not increase based on the number of users or times that the training is used.
  4. Commercial training materials.  Microsoft and third parties publish training materials such as books and videos which are a great way to learn Dynamics CRM.
  5. Train-the-trainer. If you hire a professional services firm to develop your solution, you may want to have them train your training and support staff. Many organizations have professional trainers on a fulltime or part-time basis.
  6. Hybrid training.  A combination of these training approaches may be best for your organization.
  7. Free training videos.  Microsoft and its partners have published hundreds of free training videos on Dynamics CRM that are available on YouTube and microsoft.com. These are great for getting a quick response to a specific "how do I" question.
In terms of cost, classroom training at a training center is several hundred dollars per person per day (often about $500).  In person custom training is sometimes charged based on the number of students or at a flat rate of $2,000-3,000 per day including materials.    Online training materials and training subscriptions are often less than $100 per person. 

Remember that the generic training materials are less expensive, but not tailored to your solution or implementation.    In general, these materials are good for IT professional rather than end users. 

A good place to start for online resources is http://crm.dynamics.com/en-us/support-overview

You need to understand your users in order to choose the correct training approach.    Is traditional classroom training effective?   How much time can users spend in training with their other job responsibilities?   Will they be overloaded with information in a multi-day training session?

In addition to end user training, you will want to provide training for system administrators and other IT professionals.   You may also want to train developers for maintenance tasks and enhancements to the system.   You may need to customize some materials so they related to your particular implementation, but advanced admin training materials are readily available.

Generic product training is most appropriate for IT staff.   End users are usually better off with training geared toward their particular implementation, including forms, reports, and workflows that are unique to their organization.

Don't wait until the end of your implementation to begin training.  User acceptance testing is a great time for initial training of a subset of users.     An incremental rollout or a pilot is also a great chance to refine your training approach before it is too late.

Refresher training is a good item to include in your budget.   It can help renew enthusiasm for the system and improve user satisfaction. 

See our Dynamics CRM implementation cost calculator

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