In a day and age where IT plays an increasingly larger role in business processes and operations, one of the largest challenges every company faces is in software migration and adoption. While IT historically has been a faceless entity behind the end user workstation, there is increasing pressure to better partner IT with business initiatives to increase project ROI and better justify the cost of resources. Because of this new pressure are some important things to keep in mind when training new end users: User Needs, Training Delivery, Work Instruction Documentation, and Budget.
Arguably the most important part of end user training and education lies within IT’s ability to understand business user needs and expectations. Regardless of training delivery method, IT implementations will fail if users are not given training relevant to their specific needs. Therefore, it is important for IT to have a good understanding of current business processes and the groups involved in each process. By setting training goals based on the work expectations of end users, IT can train users on how their business processes function within new software, rather than on the technical capabilities of the software itself. From there, IT can train users based on technical familiarity, which can avoid overwhelming novices and save time on training technically skilled workers. As a result of understanding user needs and expectations, IT can forge effective relationships with end users that create constructive dialogue and feedback on the changing needs of the business.
Due to an increasing breadth of options in employee training, businesses are now able to provide employees with different ways to learn new software used in the workplace. While traditionally classroom seminars provide standardized training and education for end users, many businesses are finding that such methods are unscalable and too rigid for its users. Therefore, it is important for IT to consider the scalability needs, ease of access, and scheduling needs of its users in order to provide trainings that best fit the different needs of its end users while efficiently managing cost. Whether this is a classroom lecture, a weekly conference call, or an online web video, IT should carefully consider the different needs met through each delivery method.
While trainings, webinars, and online tutorials may be useful in initial software education, work instructions allow end users to help themselves without creating additional resource constraints for IT after implementation. Providing work instructions from a step by step work perspective as well as a technical capability perspective will allow different users to find the most business value in accessing an education repository. Work instructions also provide a great deal of value in continuing education. As employees continue to use their technology and gain familiarity with its applicable uses, the sophistication of requirements and needs may also increase for some users. Work instructions therefore can provide cost efficient education for end users long after an implementation is complete.
Training failure typically falls under two categories: IT’s inability to understand business needs, and a lack of budget for IT to provide adequate training resources. Typically successful training requires 10 to 13 percent of the project budget, but training costs are often underestimated and training budgets are the first things cut when a project is too expensive to implement. When setting a project budget, it is important to not only consider the monetary needs for effective training, but to also consider the monetary losses resulting from poor training.
As the lines between IT and the business continue to blur, it is ever more important to consider how training end users meet the needs of the business. Not only does effective training increase the potential for a maximized project ROI, but effective training in the present will allow IT to provide more useful and cost effective services in the future through continued dialogue with the business.
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