Career / Management

Why User Training is as Important as the Project

by Leslie Rutberg
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Published on December 15, 2017

IT pros of a certain age will remember the phrase, "If you build it, they will come." While this might be perfectly applicable wisdom when it comes to building baseball fields, it's not as accurate for the implementation of new business technology.

You can upgrade everyone to the latest version of Office, but without any Office 365 training, your users won't be taking advantage of all the new features and capabilities you paid for or your ticketing system will be flooded with support requests and you can kiss productivity goodbye for the next several months. If user training via a thousand tickets sounds like your idea of a waking nightmare, you may want to have something better in place before your next system upgrade goes live.

You're going to need to allocate time and money for user training, which means getting your boss on board. Here's how to make that argument:

Deployment is not adoption

With large IT projects, whether you are migrating to a new system or upgrading to the latest version of your solutions, making sure the system works as intended is half the battle. You can have everything ready to go and deploy to the sound of sad trombones rather than the trumpets you were expecting because no one is actually using the systems you built. For example, we've all heard stories of users who have been provided all the tools for security, like two-step verification and password management, but still secretly passed around an unsecured Excel file with the keys to the kingdom.

This is not a failure of technology, but one of evangelism. When you plan for a change in tools, you have to think a bit like a marketer and envision what would make your users want to use the tools you're giving them. For example, if those users had adequate security awareness training they might have understood the stakes and been motivated to use the systems they were given. And some end-user training, like security awareness, is required as part of a security compliance program, so you may very well be getting double value from your end-user training.

Training can be a potent way to get your organization excited about a technology change and ready to hit the ground running when you release new systems. But it does require forethought.

Planning for Success

New implementations always require a project plan, you have to sort out who is responsible for what, how timelines will work, etc. An important but often forgotten piece of those project plans is training pre-rollout.

Be clear about how training will work and who is responsible. If training isn't accounted for, it can lead to a total failure of the implementation.

Take this cautionary tale from a study summarized in Harvard Business Review where "a very promising implementation effort in a large communications and computer company went off the rails for many months because of inadequate infrastructure."

One of the central issues was that the developers who produced the new technology hadn't provided adequate training, and no other department had thought to, so the new system couldn't be used.

Don't assume that the appropriate documentation and training resources are available to your organization. By the same token, re-inventing the wheel benefits no one.

We've also heard of IT teams being asked to build Excel tutorials. You've got better things to do than explain pivot tables, and there's good quality Excel training already out there. So it may make the most sense to look into enterprise training solutions that can be made easily accessible to your team so your team is free to tackle the IT challenges without getting lost in the weeds.

Training is a Verb

Functional end-user training isn't one-and-done because technology releases in never-ending waves of updates. So, the best end-user training programs are ongoing. Users understand that regular training in the safe and effective use of their business tools is expected and required. For example, at CBT Nuggets, when we are issued new equipment we are given training that shiny new iPhone comes with Anthony's iOS 11 course.

But we are also expected to regularly train at least a few hours a week, and to look for mandatory training and IT maintenance alerts which is why when our IT team heard about the recent High Sierra exploit, they already had effective systems in place for alerting the entire organization, and proving simple documentation for fixing it.

This kind of training infrastructure requires buy-in and commitment from the top down, and if your organization doesn't have that, yet, consider setting them straight with resources like this post about the cost of a potential data breach. Or you can remind them how much capital investment they have tied to technology solutions your team doesn't have the bandwidth to deploy.

However it happens, our holiday wish for your IT team is that you be gifted with end-user training that seriously reduces your ticket load and significantly increases your chances of project success.

Browse our end-user training today.


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