Technology training can be painful. We all know it. It is often viewed as a “necessary evil” when implementing new technology with the sole purpose of giving the end users just enough skill to get their jobs done. If done correctly, technology training can be much more valuable in far less obvious ways than the users just being able to get by. If you are investing time and energy into tools and technology, but then not taking full advantage of what the products offer, this should be considered in the overall cost.
The focus of this post will be on telecommunications training, but the information is applicable in most technology training situations.
A seasoned professional trainer seeks feedback during training. If the training is live and in-person, the audience will provide non-verbal feedback through body language. They should also be given opportunities to ask questions. Class questions or discussions not only serve for clarification, but can also open the door for discussions of actual usage patterns. Web-based training is typically far more cost effective, but loses the ability to gauge body language, so it puts a higher emphasis on leader-requested feedback. In either case, user feedback is a valuable tool. Typically in a new technology rollout there is some degree of change required from the users and some degree of flexibility offered by the technology itself, so using this feedback can help administrators of the new technology bridge gaps between what the system can do and how the users will use it.
For example, in a new Unified Communications system rollout, standard user training highlights any changes in call routing. Taking in good feedback from the users during training can help the technician proactively make adjustments and make the system more user-friendly before it goes live. Users that are able to get past basic functionality issues can focus on better adoption.
Establishing Product or Process Ownership
When a new product or process is implemented, it doesn’t just magically happen. Someone advocated for it, someone agreed to pay for it, and someone agreed to support it in the future. Therefore, someone should own and take pride in the product or process being implemented successfully! I know that isn’t very concrete, but stay with me.
However you define success of a technology project, successful projects have strong owners internally and externally. If you are the company buying the technology or process, having a strong change-agent take ownership of the project gives the users a voice, it gives management insight and supervision of progress, and it gives the vendor a communication path with both. Now, how does that relate to training? The product or process owner should be heavily involved in the training process. They should provide feedback on the content, timing, attendees, and communication of the training plan before the training even starts. Then, if at all possible, they should participate in the first training session. This will allow for quick company feedback on the content and delivery so that it best suits the business. It also proves to local staff that they have a voice and a means for resolving any conflict that may arise. Establishing the perception of ownership with users can help to identify and communicate common issues. In addition, that local owner will be able to offer more company-specific examples of how the technology can be applied to the users’ daily jobs. All of these factors point to a faster, more proactive and accurate implementation. Having a more focused, proactive training and implementation will allow users to move past the basic learning so they can adopt more of the technology and take advantage of the tools available.
When rolling out new technology, one of the toughest hurdles is the concept that “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Companies can struggle with implementing technology at the peak efficiency without understanding what all a product can do and how it will be used. A trusted technology advisor will guide and educate you through the process, but a much greater understanding of the technology is gained when people actually start using it. Technology training does not and often should not end with the initial project. After the initial change of migrating to the new technology and the business has had a chance to work with the new setup, it is often recommended to provide follow-up training. Follow-up training can take many forms: advanced user training, post-project question and answer, train-the-trainer, or any combination of those. In any of the forms of follow-up training, you are providing a platform for either users or power users to take the newly acquired knowledge of the technology and develop more specific questions for the local project owner and/or technicians. By allowing users a platform to ask more focused, business-specific, process-driven questions, we allow the technicians to tailor the technology to the business or correct misinterpretations of technology uses.
New Unified Communications installations can include voice, video, instant messaging, collaboration tools, reporting and metrics, and any number of call routing changes that would affect users. A typical user will focus their initial training attention on the minimum functions that they need to continue doing their job. Providing the additional forum for advanced user training can either introduce new items or reinforce previously covered items. Often, the covered topics represent items that are included as part of the installation but also can represent potential drivers for efficiency.
In addition to continued education for users, continued touch-points and education for product owners, decision-makers, and heavy users can uncover new service need opportunities. New features, functions, and possibilities are always becoming available and a trusted advisor can lead you through understanding the costs, benefits, and risks of all of the hot products in the technology area.
If you’re about to implement new technology and are concerned with making sure the technology is fit to your business needs, or concerned that your staff will struggle with adoption, contact us at 800. 274.3978 or email us.