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BearingPoint's PeopleSoft Roadblock: Training-Resistant Consultants

By Larry Barrett  |  Posted 2006-02-07 Print this article Print

A new software system can trip up a company when top managers and others resist training. What can you do to avoid this trap?


BearingPoint's implementation of PeopleSoft's OneGlobe financial software suite hit some rough patches. Part of the problem was the laissez-faire attitude many consultants had regarding training for the new software system.

Some company officials admitted that training sessions were poorly attended and upper management looked the other way. In their defense, these consultants were busy raking in huge fees from clients and probably felt justified skipping out on the classes. Especially when their quarterly bonus checks arrived.

Here's how project managers can convince highly skilled, highly paid employees—such as physicians, attorneys or consultants—to take training seriously.


Accountability from top to bottom. Destroy the notion that training for a new software system is "below" anyone in the organization. That means the CEO and the CIO need to attend these classes, too. It's hard to justify blowing off a training session when top executives find the time to attend.

No matter how experienced the employee, there's always something new that can be learned, advanced or questioned during these sessions. Often, specific configurations for individual business processes—think invoices for clients or project scheduling—can be hashed out and clarified during these classes. And if someone is so knowledgeable about the particular software being installed that it truly would be a waste of his time to make an appearance, he should be drafted to teach the class.

Keep your own house in order. Companies don't put in new software to boost their technology portfolios; they put it in to boost the business. And those systems are often vital to the company's dealings with its customers. "Failing to be up to date with its own software gives a company a bad reputation," says Jean Hey, a vice president at the MIS Training Institute in Framingham, Mass. "Not only that, you're giving a bad reputation to the software that you're installing, and your clients will have serious questions about your entire organization."

CIOs need to convince everyone in the organization that understanding the new system is crucial to maintaining the company's credibility with its customers.

Show them the money. Because consultants and other highly skilled individuals are often the organization's cash cows, they actually might need the most training on the internal software system. They may need it to log their hours, schedule their assignments and collect their fees. If they don't know what they're doing, they'll waste valuable time that could be spent out in the field.

Convince these consultants that for every minute spent in the training session, it will save them an hour in the office or in the field stumped at a keyboard, trying to figure out how to file a report. Nothing motivates these top earners like the prospect of having more time to generate more billable hours.

Everyone can learn more. The top consultants at firms such as BearingPoint are in those positions because they're brilliant and experienced. But even they will admit they might learn something—even if it's just a time-saving tip or workaround—from even those most basic training classes. Security issues, especially in Windows-based shops, change by the hour. Having the opportunity for even a few hours to learn about the latest worm, the next wave of patches or exactly how this new system will differ from the previous system is worthwhile for anyone in the organization.

QUESTION: For year three of Sarbanes-Oxley, do you expect to spend more or less time on documenting your internal controls? Tell us at baseline@ziffdavis.com.

Story Guide:

Main Story:
Compliance: How BearingPoint Lost Its Way

Senior Writer
Larry, of San Carlos, Calif., was a senior writer and editor at CNet, writing analysis, breaking news and opinion stories. He was technology reporter at the San Jose Business Journal from 1996-1997. He graduated with a B.A. from San Jose State University where he was also executive editor of the daily student newspaper.
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