One of the keys to success for any new software rollout is training for your team. It is also one of the most commonly missed steps. Why invest in new technology and fail to show your team how to use it? Software vendors may claim their applications are intuitive and easy to use, but your staff will still need training to understand how these new tools impact their day-to-day work. Without that, you’ll never realize the full benefits of your new technology.
Of course, training is not limited to technology. In fact, technology now enables you to provide world-class training resources to your team on nearly any business topic you can imagine. Here are some ideas to get your team on the road to success.
Software Application Training
Most software applications offer online training. When you select new software programs, training should be a critical part of your assessment, as quality training programs can make a huge difference in the success of your project.
Options vary by vendor, but most offer an online training portal. Contents may include videos, demonstrations, online tests, and downloadable user guides. The best portals allow you to select a curriculum, assign it to individual team members, and track progress as they complete their training program.
Even if you already have software in place that you’ve been using for some time, it’s worth reviewing whether your team could use additional training. Maybe they could use a refresher, maybe there are new features, or maybe there is more they could do with what you already have. Don’t assume that everyone is already making the most of your software just because they’ve been using it a long time.
Microsoft offers a variety of free and paid online training. Nearly everyone in business uses Microsoft Office, and undoubtedly there are tips and tricks that could improve your team’s productivity. Visit https://support.office.com for their Office support portal, which includes how-tos, troubleshooting tips, and training videos and tutorials.
For more in-depth training on many commonly-used software program in business, including even more resources for Microsoft Office, check out http://lynda.com. Their affordable subscriptions give you on-demand access to thousands of training programs. The more people you train, the lower the cost per person. Their training includes popular programs from Microsoft, Adobe, ACT!, Google, QuickBooks, and many more. There is something for everyone here.
Learning Management Systems
Sometimes you need training about non-technology topics, but technology can still play a key role. Check out a category of software known as “Learning Management Systems” (LMS for short). These products track your team, their training assignments, and their progress towards completion. Some LMSs offer canned training on general business topics, which will get you started. With others, you can create your own online training using their presentation tools. It’s just a matter of determining what features will serve your company best. The real advantage of programs like these is that to use them, you have to think through your team’s training needs and create a plan for them. Training becomes a routine part of their work instead of a “nice to have” that never gets done.
Some LMS providers, like SkillSoft and SumTotal, stand out above the rest for their huge library of business-related training topics. They have training classes on technology topics as well as a full gamut of business skills. Need to train your financial people? Select the accounting curriculum. Want to help your managers become better leaders? Assign them to communications and management training courses. Are you focused on customer service? Pick a few classes on delivering an amazing customer experience. Subscriptions to these tools are not cheap, but if you make good use of them and require your staff to take appropriate coursework, the investment can have a huge payoff.
Visit http://www.edx.org, for an amazing array of world-class college courses. Founded by Harvard and MIT, this website publishes online courses from top universities around the world. All classes are free, and there are hundreds of choices. Sign up key members of your team for top-notch business school classes, or find coursework in your industry (architecture, engineering, etc.) to keep your people up-to-date on the latest ideas.
Another incredible online resource are the well-known TED Talks, at http://www.ted.com. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, began over 30 years ago as a way to spread great ideas. Talks are usually 10-20 minutes long and cover a wide range of topics. You are sure to find something relevant to your business. These can be great motivational topics to share with your team. Pick a relevant topic, watch it together, and spend time after debriefing how it applies to your business. This can spur creative thinking and generate fresh new ideas.
How to Plan a Successful Training Rollout
One of the surest ways to fail at a training rollout is to point people at a training website and tell them to go get trained. It will never hit the top of their priority list, and that means it will never get done.
In order to get results, create a well-defined training plan. If you are using a Learning Management System, you can create the plan inside the LMS and then easily track your team’s progress. However, for small teams you can do something as simple as an Excel workbook. The elements of a training plan include course assignments by person, duration of each course, and schedule/deadline for completion. Some courses will apply to your entire team; you’ll assign other by role and skill level. Be sure to allocate time in their day to take the training classes, instead of piling it on top of an already full schedule. Be realistic about the time needed and how it fits in with the rest of their work. It takes time and dedication to make this happen, but you will be amazed at how your people flourish when you demonstrate commitment to helping them grow.