The Importance of Training: Part 2 – train the trainer

By - December 2, 2014

Continuing on the topic of training from my last post, The importance of training: Part 1 – the training plan, I will discuss train-the-trainer activities in more detail.

A good training plan will include a Train-the-Trainer Phase. Although this requires some preparation in the earlier phases of the development lifecycle, it will reduce costs associated with end-user training in the long-run. It also ensures that organizational business processes are baked into the software teachings.

Train-the-trainer preparation should start during the Planning Phase to make sure that it is clearly outlined. This typically includes:

  • Identifying who will be responsible for training activities – the size of your company will dictate the number of resources that should participate. For example, a small company could have a single administrator in charge of training the entire workforce, whereas a mid-to-large size company would typically have several representatives from multiple departments or locations (i.e. department manager, division administrator or a full-time training team) responsible for these activities.
    • The ideal person will have intimate knowledge of the business processes for their given area. I would recommend identifying current product champions and incorporating them as a trainer. These resources typically demonstrate a higher learning curve when it comes to technical business acumen and are more accepting of change in their working environment. They are also the type of employees that enjoy helping others with general “how-to” questions and identifying efficient short-cuts for departmental business processes.
    • It’s important to remember that not every person is a “natural” at speaking in front of an audience. Additionally, your managers may not be well-versed at teaching and need some instruction on how to present the information in a way that students can understand and later remember when performing their job activities. This is where a good implementation partner can help!
  • Plan a train-the-trainer workshop – this type of program is conducted prior to end-user training, and is designed to ramp up the business team members responsible for on-going training activities after you complete the implementation, upgrade or roll out.
    • It provides the team an opportunity to learn new solution functionality and features. This allows them to become familiar with new screen layouts, ask questions about system workflows, as well as determine if existing shortcuts are still available to end-users.
    • Because these resources are already knowledgeable of the current solution, this exercise allows them to identify potential issues (or missed requirements) that are vital to existing business processes or workflows.
    • This also helps facilitate ownership to the new solution. Incorporating the feedback these users provide helps solidify the design, while enhancing what is spun out the Development Phase.
  • Create the documentation that will be used to train end-users – the training documentation requires the authors to be well-versed in organizational processes and procedures. Therefore, it’s important for the training team to prepare their own documentation, rather than the implementation partner. At McGladrey, we help our clients by providing templates and assisting in formatting the material, but encourage the business to incorporate the details.
    • Documentation is a critical element to a training program. It acts as the foundation for ongoing knowledge transfer within the company’s workforce, especially when trainers and skilled power users leave.
    • This activity should be assigned to one or two people from a given functional area. Ideally, the person assigned to handle training from an assigned department or functional area should be dedicated to documenting processes and developing a reference guide used for training activities.
    • Since this documentation will be used in end-user training prior to going live, comments and feedback received can be evaluated, and potentially included, to better align training activities moving forward. Remember, this documentation is supposed to evolve with your business processes – modifications and customization “tweaks” will take place throughout the life of your solution, so why wouldn’t your training material be updated as well?

 A final note that’s worth reiterating: Although the business team should own this phase of the implementation, it’s your implementation partner’s responsibility to help develop the content in an easy-to-follow format, as well as help the training team develop basic skills to present the content in an effective manner.

This should provide you with insight into what is addressed when developing the Train-the-Trainer Phase of your training plan. In my next post, I’ll wrap up my discussion on training with an overview of end-user training and developing a way to evaluate its results.

If you’d like to discuss more about your training plan, or your implementation of in general, please feel free to reach out to me directly at eric.blevins@mcgladrey.com. RSM LLP is the largest mid-market consulting firm with offices across North America. We offer a full range of technology and management consulting services that include implementations, solution optimization, process improvement, development and support. For more information regarding our services, please contact our professionals at 855.437.7202.

By: Eric Blevins – Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner Kansas City

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