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Discover How Training Maximizes Your PLM Investment

Congratulations. You just bought Arena’s awesome product lifecycle management (PLM) solution to make the management of your bill of materials (BOM), quality needs, and product development processes easier. But owning a solution is one thing — knowing how to use it is another.

Whether you’ve been using Arena PLM and QMS for years or you’re just getting started, Arena Customer Success Training Manager Mary Beth Romak’s classroom training will help you make the most of your new applications.

In part two of our interview with Mary Beth, she talks about the keys to creating training best practices.

Arena: How important is training to PLM or QMS?

Romak: An ex-colleague of mine who was a CEO of a successful software company once said to me “You can develop the best widget in the world but if your customers don’t know how to use it it’s no good.” After a customer purchases and implements Arena that’s not the end of our work. The Customer Success department is named just that because we want to ensure that our customers get the best implementation, training, and support for our product.

Arena: Is training often overlooked?

Romak: Many times training is pushed to the end of an implementation due to lack of resources, schedule creep, and oversight on the amount of effort required. It’s much better to include training throughout an implementation than to leave it for the end. Learning is done in bite-sized pieces. If customers are learning the software as the Arena Solution Architect is configuring it, then they will be better prepared to pass the learning on to the rest of their company.

Arena: Does training differ per industry?

Romak: You’d expect me to answer “yes” to this question, but instead, I’ll say “not really”. People are people and we all learn in the same ways regardless of what industry we work in. While there are definite differences between industries in the data they collect and in the processes they perform, training them on Arena PLM is pretty much the same. Good configuration management principles span across every industry and that’s what we at Arena try and teach our customers.

Arena: What are some of the greatest training success stories that you’ve seen?

Romak: Whether it’s helping turn around a stalled implementation, reactivating shelved software, transferring paper-based processes to Arena PLM, bringing together employees from different groups to learn and collaborate on new processes, showing users how PLM will make their jobs easier; all of these make for successful training.

Arena: What benefits does PLM training have on an organization?

Romak: That’s just it, PLM spans across the entire organization and it’s a way for many departments to collaborate together when producing a product. When groups are trained to use Arena PLM so that they are all adding value to a process it makes employees feel that they are directly contributing to the success of their company.

Arena: What are some key things to avoid in training?

Romak: This makes me chuckle . . . avoid long lectures, avoid PowerPoint slides with lots and lots of words, avoid teaching someone something they won’t use or they’re not interested in, avoid not giving people enough time to absorb what they’re learning, avoid not letting people practice what they’ve learned. Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”

Arena: What organizational heads should be involved in training?

Romak: Anyone who is a process owner needs to be involved. They will be the expert on their process and they need to decide how users will get trained on their process and who will be the trainer. Most of the time we “train the trainer” and then they are the Super User who goes about training other users. It may be as simple as a person who approves a Change Order once a month and can be trained in 15 minutes, or a Change Administrator who controls and monitors Changes every day, all day long that needs a full day of training.

Arena: How does new Training Record Management help with training?

Romak: Many industries, especially those that are heavily regulated, require that training records be kept for all employees. There are many training management solutions on the market today that will do just that but are not tied to a company’s product record. That’s key. By using Arena’s training management solution, a customer can link an employee’s training to a product in PLM. For example, a new product is developed and the parts, bill of materials, and documentation are all under change control in Arena PLM. The same concept when an employee is trained on an update or revision.

An employee that needs training on how to build that product can have a training record directly associated with an item such as a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). By having that SOP under revision control in Arena PLM, and the employee’s training record associated with it, there’s a mechanism for alerting that same employee whenever that document is revised and they need to be retrained. Keeping all of this information in one repository with associations is efficient and safe.

A Training Manager using this feature can create curricula, assign training to users, notify users that they have training tasks, see the status of each employee’s training, and know who needs to be retrained. It pretty much puts a bow around it.

Arena: What are your final thoughts on the power of training?

Romak: All human beings are continually learning. No matter how educated you are there’s always something that you can learn. Keep an open mind, stay inquisitive, ask lots of questions, and learn something new every day. With Arena Training Management you’ll have the peace of mind that you are in constant compliance, there will be no Warning Letters to deal with, and its automation will greatly simplify your life.

To learn more about Arena Training click here.