The Value of User Training
In today’s competitive business climate, companies looking to improve their gross margins and increase productivity are increasingly looking for ways to boost employee performance and effectiveness. Training programs, often a target of budget cuts, will help organizations achieve corporate objectives and enhance their overall corporate culture.
The high cost of doing nothing
The major component in the success of any automation is the people who use it. Therefore, effective end-user training is essential for any software used within an organization. Just like we only use 10% of our brain, I say we only use 20% of our technology’s capabilities. I frequently see users “taking the long way around the barn”, as my Dad would say, when accomplishing their normally daily tasks in a program. This isn’t because they want everything to take twice as long to do. It really boils down to “they don’t know what they don’t know”. Untrained or poorly trained users cost significantly more to support each year than a well-trained user. These untrained users affect the company bottom line every year through:
How to Start a Training Program
The best place to start is with the users. When I create a training program I always survey the users. This is a great way to not only determine their level of knowledge on a software but it also provides them with a vehicle to help author some of the training. This will ensure three things:
- The trainers material will be relevant
- The users will be engaged since they helped author the content
- The time spent will be laser focused and cost effective
Determining the Best Training Methods
To maximize returns on investments, organizations should develop a training program which matches corporate needs and types of users with available training. Engineers have different training needs than say Executive Assistants, so their training should be as unique as their job description. Not only is the training unique but the learning environment should vary as well. Here are two very different training approaches that both work well when applied to the right users:
- Group Training – This type of environment is best when the content applies to multiple people or a department within your organization. For example, if you’re rolling out Office 2013 to the entire staff a training session on the feature changes in 2013 would be a great group session. Or if you are switching from CAD to SolidWorks it would great to train all your engineers together so they can feed off each other as they learn.
- One-on-One Training – I do a lot of personal training taylored to a specific user. This is extremely beneficial for CEO’s, management, or key personnel. From time to time there are items that they need some advice or training on that is propriatary and can’t be shared with others within the company. A private training session accomplishes the task in a confidential matter. One-on-One sessions are also great for specialty items like Social media training. Most people know something about social media but they have specific questions on links, campagin strategy, what is best to post where, etc. A personal training session targets the exact questions they are looking to answer.
Repeat, Repeat, Repeat!
The last point, but one of the most important in my opinion, is to schedule future training. This is the component that is most often missing. Have you ever gone to a great seminar and upon leaving you think, “I can’t wait to start applying the things I learned today”, but then reality sets in and you never use your new skill? Follow up is the key to enhancing what your users learn.
- Set a time for further training. The average user only retains a portion of what they are taught so future training is essential to the learning process. Training should not be something that is done once a year but a continuous processes in mini stages.
- Give your users tasks to perform that are relevant to the training they just received. This will give them an opportunity to hone their new skill.
- Encourage your users to share tips and tricks with one another. This helps create an internal support mechanism not to mention a team mindset and culture.
For more information on training strategy or sessions feel free to call the BITS office at 440-478-0102.