Item by Item (IBI) Releases Discrete Manufacturing Training Courses and Learning Paths on Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance and Operations

IBI has announced today the release of 65 new micro-courses and 4 new learning paths for D365 Finance and Operations.

DALLAS, TX, November 21, 2018 /24-7PressRelease/ -- Item by Item (IBI) has announced today the release of 65 new micro-courses and 4 new learning paths for D365 Finance and Operations (F&O). The new micro courses will teach learners skills within discrete manufacturing functional area of D365 F&O. The courses are organized and presented to learners within four new learning paths: Manufactured Product Manager, Manufacturing Planner, Production Clerk/Analyst, and Manufacturing Cost Analyst."We are proud to offer these additional courses and learning paths to make our customer's learning experience more comprehensive. It is our goal to continuously improve our learning platform; not only the learning experience and monitoring capabilities, but also the depth of content for D365 Finance and Operations," said Elif Item, CEO of Item by Item.The new micro courses and learning paths will be available immediately within IBI Learning Platform to existing learners as well as new ones.Item by Item (IBI), provider of IBI Learning Platform, delivers quick, convenient, and cost-effective online and mobile training to Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance and Operations implementation teams and end users.



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with Sarah D. Morgan

Micro Courses Make This Microsoft D365 Online User Training Easy to Consume

As part of our LeaderTrain program at LeaderHire we are proud to introduce Elif Item, Founder of Item by Item (IBI), a Microsoft D365 Finance and Operations online training company. Interviewing Elif brings up AXAPTA nostalgia, where in 2003, I attended one of the first Dynamics AX 3.0 training classes in the US and met Elif’s husband, Cem Item, VP at Sunrise Technologies. At that time, Elif, was working at then i2 Technologies, as a Training Solutions Lead and has now founded her aptly named company, Item by Item. Today, Elif gives us a clear understanding of the IBI platform including its user micro courses and assessments. You’ll enjoy the dialog – like her training, it’s easy to consume!

Click below to read the interview with Elif Item.

MSDW Podcast: Meeting the training needs of Microsoft D365 FO users

MSDW Podcast: Meeting the training needs of Microsoft D365 FO users

MSDW Podcast: Meeting the training needs of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance & Operations users

Our guest on this episode, Elif Item, founder of Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations training firm Item by Item,  has worked with AX and D365FO for more than a decade and recently took her years of consulting and project-based work and translated them into a new video-based training platform designed to offer smaller, digestible units of educational content for companies deploying D365FO.

We talk about Elif's history in the Dynamics channel, her new company, and D365FO customers' training needs.

How to create a Training Plan for a D365 F&O implementation

Creating a comprehensive training plan is key to a successful implementation of D365 F&O.

Recently we have put together these diary entries for MSDynamicsWorld to help their members to gain better understanding of the training plan creation process, considerations, and success factors.

I hope you find them helpful as well...

Diary 1 from Project Manager: What is our Project Manager planning to do to make sure all end users are trained?

Diary 2 from Training Coordinator: How is our Training Coordinator taking online training into consideration as a part of the training plan?

Diary 3 from Training Coordinator: It is time to focus on make-or-buy decision for the remaining of the D365 F&O training we need to deliver to our end users.

2b or not 2b?

In the last several years, assessments progressively viewed as bad and ineffective in most of the learning communities. The argument against “standardized tests” starts with early education and continues to adult learning. Most of the objections stem from the environments in which the assessment scores become the goal of learning rather than a tool to improve learner’s understanding. In today’s blog we are trying to answer the question of; 2b or not 2b? Assess or not?

Let’s say you train buyers in your company about Purchase Order Workflow in D365 F&O in a classroom environment. At the end of the training, you give everyone an assessment to measure their understanding of the topics covered. One of the learners get a really low score from this assessment, while most others got better scores. This is not an acceptable assessment score based on your company expectations.

What happens next is the key in making the assessment a useful tool. If you use this score to compare the learner to other learners, label him as “not mastered the skills”, and not follow up in a constructive way, you would miss a great opportunity.

The key is to use the assessment as a diagnostics tool to understand what learner needs to improve and give him additional chance for success. If you follow the below steps, you can unlock the potential of the assessment that you have done.

  1. Review the assessment results with the learner privately and determine the areas that he needs to work on.
  2. Help him to revisit these areas by giving him extra time, materials, or instructions. He may even have to attend the same classroom training again, focusing on the areas that were not mastered.
  3. Reassess his skills later and see if there is improvement. If you follow these steps with some encouragement, there is no reason why the learner will not improve his learning and score.

Ultimately, when you are providing online or classroom training, your goal is to make sure each learner reaches his full potential, learn the topics, and apply them to his work life. Assessments can be useful in this process to diagnose problem areas and motivate the learners to do better.

When you are discussing online or classroom training with your training providers, make sure to ask appropriate questions:

  • Do you have assessments?
  • Can learners retake assessments?
  • Can learners revisit materials after taking an assessment? Etc.

The answers to these questions will tell you if these assessments are designed to score and categorize only, or to improve learning.

As far as the assess or not question; we say 2b for sure.

Guest Blog: The early bird gets the worm

We’ve all heard that expression that emphases that starting a task early will yield a better reward or result. I feel that this adage can be applied to ERP training as well. Item by Item (IBI) Learning Platform is an excellent tool that is going to allow employees to get high quality, online training for Dynamics 365 earlier than has been typically possible. Do you want your employees to get to be Early Birds?

 After having worked over the last 13 years on numerous Dynamics AX (now D365) projects of various sizes and in a multitude of industries, one common thread that has tied all these projects together is the need for employee training. Proper employee training on ERP projects can contribute to a successful rollout that quickly achieves the software’s desired outcomes. On the other hand, when employee training is left as an afterthought, projects often struggle to get off the ground, causing frustration, poor adoption, and sometimes even financial losses. Fortunately, there’s a product like IBI Learning Platform that can help employees get the necessary training they need, sooner.

I stress that word “sooner” because I’ve seen it happen, time and time again, where during a Dynamics project, training is given, but only right before go-live. To be fair, there are some good reasons for training employees just before a go-live, but this does not mean that employees shouldn’t be trained much earlier as well. Typically, classroom training is given to employees a few weeks or days before a go-live. However, this is often too late for employees to be able to dive deep into topics that affect their day-to-day jobs. As such, this classroom training skims over the surface of the software and leaves employees feeling frustrated as they neither learn the software basics comprehensively, nor learn how to do their specific job in the new software.

The way to combat this training conundrum is to get users into training much earlier. However, this is often hard to do in the traditional classroom training method as it takes too much time to create the learning materials and creating a schedule that works for everyone is quite difficult, especially when there isn’t a sense of urgency. As such, I see the perfect solution in IBI. Using this tool, a company can provide access to their employees to do tailored, comprehensive D365 training, in a flexible format – several months before a go-live. This will allow employees to get a very thorough understanding of the out-of-the box Dynamics 365 platform. Subsequently, when it is closer to go-live, traditional classroom training can be used to further enhance employees’ knowledge of D365 and at the same time, company business processes and/or customized functionality can be taught. In this dual approach to training, employees can benefit from self-paced, online training, as well as classroom training that is job specific. Using the IBI learning platform for the initial training will allow for the classroom training to be more in-depth and company specific. This is a recipe for success.

James Earles

Solution Architect, Dynamics, Microsoft EMEA

 

FDA approved the latest insomnia cure; traditional classroom training

How many classroom trainings have you been to where you felt like taking a nap? These are the trainings where instructor lectures with minimal exercises since he has to cover so much content, the classroom is packed, learners are not engaged and keep checking their phones, and you wonder if this training is a waste of your time.

Okay, maybe this example is slightly exaggerated…

I also hope you got to experience that one great classroom training; you loved how the content was organized and the course was designed, the instructor was knowledgeable and engaging, the other learners were nice and inclusive, the class was the right size, and you felt like you gained skills and knowledge that you can apply to your day to day work.

What a contrast between the two different classroom experiences? What made the first one so bad but the second one so good? There is not a silver bullet answer to this question.

In my opinion, three key actions will help you to create a great ERP implementation classroom training with desired outcomes.

  1. Assess the need for a classroom training
  2. Consider knowledge levels of learners
  3. Invest into design and delivery of the classroom training

Assess the need for a classroom training

“Do you really need to teach this topic in a classroom?” is the first question you must answer. Classroom trainings are expensive and time consuming. When they are done well, they can be very effective. They should be used when they are needed the most.

To determine if you need one, you should do the following evaluation;

  • Split your ERP training content into topics based on difficulty and complexity from levels 1 to 5, 1 being simplest and 5 being most complex.
  • Use the general guideline that level 1 through 3 topics should be delivered through online trainings, newsletters, and other similar ways in which the learners can self-consume them. Levels 4 and 5 topics should be covered in a classroom. These are the topics where instructor can elaborate, discuss different scenarios, answer questions, and learners can collaborate with each other to reinforce the skills that are gained.

By focusing on level 4 and 5 complexity level in your classroom trainings, you will make the most of your training investment.

Consider knowledge levels of learners

It is very important to have learners in a classroom that have the similar level of expertise and knowledge about the ERP system that you are implementing. This will make sure the classroom training is most effective and it can build on top of the skills that learners already have. If learners are at very different knowledge levels, the classroom training can leave everyone frustrated; the beginners will feel rushed and advanced learners will feel like they wasted their time.

Below is a list of actions you can take to prevent that from happening;

  • Provide online training prior to classroom training to bring the learner’s knowledge to desired level
  • Monitor learner’s progress during online training period and make sure they are encouraged and engaged
  • Assess learner knowledge quickly prior to or at the beginning of the classroom training to make sure they are at the level that you were expecting

Invest into design and delivery of classroom training

Instructional design and delivery is a deep topic as there are many studies and theories about each. If you create classroom training only for the topics that you absolutely need, you can make them much more effective and engaging, instead of rushing the design and development processes and creating a training that will put the learners to sleep.

For ERP classroom training, I found the following guidelines help the most;

  • Create ERP content that is skill-based and applicable to learner’s jobs.
  • Split the content into small consumable chunks, not more than 20 minutes in length
  • Curate your content with each class delivered so that it gets better. Listen to feedback and add more relevant topics and remove things that are not useful.
  • Reinforce your content with exercises created using interactive learning techniques like puzzles, pairing up, tournaments, storytelling, and polls.
  • Make sure the instructor is someone who can connect with the audience, enthusiastic, speaks clearly and with authority
  • Make sure the classroom environment is comfortable, organized, has fresh air, and appropriately lit. For ERP training, you should not have more than 15 learners per class.
  • Provide coffee, water and snacks. Snacks are very important, as they become conversation pieces and keep learners alert and engaged.

All ERP training presents a value in return of the investment that is done towards it. Classroom training is a crucial part of this investment. You should examine the need carefully as well as the scope to find the best equilibrium between classroom and online delivery for your ERP implementation training.

Houston, we have a problem! End users are revolting!

It seems like you are getting close to your ERP implementation go-live and finally things are coming together. Testing has progressed, you have good amount of data to review and use, and project team can walk through business processes end to end. There is growing excitement within the project team and discussions start about go-live readiness.

That is when you start hearing some rumblings from end users; people who will be using the system on a day-to-day basis. You call a meeting to discuss their concerns. When go-live readiness comes up, they hold no punches.

“I have not spent enough time in the system”

“How am I going to do my job?”

“We are really short on staff, I cannot send all my employees to 2 weeks of classroom training!”

“Someone showed me the system few months ago, I don’t even remember how to login.”

“We have this other big initiative and cannot focus on training at this time.”

“I don’t feel ready!”

You tell everyone that a comprehensive communication and training plan is in place and you will be in touch soon. If you have already planned and taken steps to be ready for this day, you did great! If not, you need to start pretty quickly.

First of all, you are not alone. Project teams and leaders get easily consumed by day-to-day challenges and end user training can be overlooked. We put together a 7-step plan that can help you.

1)    Come up with a list of introduction topics. Some examples are; What is ERP? What is the system you are implementing? Why are we implementing this system? What are the goals and objectives of this project? Who are the key players? What has been accomplished up to now? What are some key design decisions made? etc.

2)    For each topic, you should create a slide, video, picture, newsletter, or another creative media and place them in a calendar to be communicated to end users.

3)    Create a blended training plan. Your plan should start with online training and continue with classroom training. You should cover standard skills to be gained in online training and focus on complicated and modified areas in your classroom training. With the blended approach, you will not only empower end users to take control of their learning, but also minimize the time they have to spend in a classroom.

4)    As end users go through online training, continuously monitor their progress and encourage them to finish materials in a timely manner.

5)    Determine topics, authors, and trainers for classroom training. Make sure the classroom training materials are split into easily consumable chunks. Make classroom sessions short, precise, and focused on the skills that are being taught.

6)    Create a schedule for the classroom training and make sure end users have already completed appropriate online training before they attend.

7)    Execute, evaluate, adjust!

Unless end users are trained on using the system, you cannot expect to see all the efficiencies of your investment. Keep in mind that an ERP system can only deliver all of its benefits when properly used. For these reasons, you need to view end user training as a crucial part of the implementation and invest the time, money, and resources it deserves.

Focus more on skill, less on content

In recent years, there has been a lot of discussions about what kind of training content companies should provide to their work force, regardless if it is in a classroom or online.

Traditionally, trainers have been focused on teaching a block of content. For example, how Inventory Management module of Microsoft Dynamics 365 (D365) Finance and Operations work. The content would include the list of functions this module has, types of journals that can be created and posted, variety of transactions that are created as a result, etc.

Blocks of content are usually hard to teach and difficult to retain. There is large amount of materials to cover. In most of these materials, the learner needs to figure out which specific parts to pay attention to. To make matters more challenging, we have an ever-changing work force who is young, computer and mobile savvy, and quite impatient. These factors can make any training that covers a block of content dry and ineffective, even when delivered by a very skilled instructor.

More and more, the training thought process is moving towards teaching skills, not blocks of content. Studies show this is a much more effective and engaging approach. There is still a place for content as it gives the learners a “high level” view when used sporadically and in a focused manner.

The primary priority of a skill-based training is to teach how to perform skills and or tasks. For example, how to create a counting journal during physical inventory in the warehouse. With this approach, the learner will immediately know if the topic at hand is relevant to his job or not. If appropriately reinforced with hands on exercises, real life examples, and proper context, the learner will be able to walk away from training with a new set of skills and will feel accomplished and empowered.

Designing effective and engaging courses has never been easy. As course designers, subject matter experts, and consultants, we can for sure create content and deliver it to learners. But when we get to that finish line and look around, we want to find learners finishing with us, who are equipped to perform the tasks they are supposed to.