Confessions of an Operations Guru Turned Legal Ops Novice, Part 9:
The 3 Prongs of User Training in Software Implementation
Training. The step that your entire implementation rides on. The point at which you’ll determine whether this software is a success…or a failure.
Ok. That was a little doom and gloom. We don’t have to go that far (today). But training your users (the people with accounts in your software), and training them well on the features that actually matter to them is what determines if your software gets used – and used properly with the intended benefits – or is left to gather dust, so to speak.
So, training. How do you do it and how to you make sure it’s successful? Having done this a number of times myself, I have a three-pronged approach:
1. Vendor Training Programs
When you’re selecting a vendor, ask about their training programs. Some vendors, like Bigfork Tech, include user training in their implementation programs. Many also have additional training packages if you want to spend dedicated time on specific features, train in smaller groups, or get new users acclimated without expending staff time
Understand how the training will be performed. At Bigfork Tech, we live by “Demonstrate, Observe, Repeat.” We show how a feature works, observe how the trainees attempt to execute the task themselves, then repeat by demonstrating again with adaptations for any issues we saw during observation. At other organizations, I’ve seen training happen through live and pre-recorded webinars, or simply training videos with no live/question-asking component.
Understand what kind of ongoing training opportunities the vendor offers. Is any covered by your support package? Do they have a knowledge base, video library, or written training guide to assist your users? Who can access the ongoing training opportunities – just the administrators or all users?
2. Recruit “Power Users”
My “power users” have saved me many times during an implementation (and in ongoing training with new/existing users). These team members are typically people who are technologically adept, have a interested stake in the software, and desire to see the implementation succeed. They are users that you invest additional training and resource in so that they can be the go-to expert on their team.
Utilizing power users reduces training cost, spreads out expertise, provides purpose/buy-in from the power users, and can sometimes help you navigate around office politics. Plus, your main software administrator will have some of the burden removed from them so they can
3. Office Hours
Whenever I implement a new software as the main admin, after the first 1-2 weeks, which are dedicated to onboarding, I set office hours for when I accept questions and resolve problems. There are always exceptions for emergencies, but I don’t promise to respond outside of those hours. I hold a high percentage of office hours at first, then taper off as my team gets their feet under them. There are two main reasons I do this:
- I’m always balancing the software administration with the other requirements of my job. This helps me manage my time as a holistic employee better while still prioritizing the implementation.
- People figure things out when you don’t fix it for them right away. By not making myself immediately available, they more readily search for their own answers and often learn more by experimenting than they would if I just showed them every time. Only about 5% of your users are going to explore the software on their own. Expect the other 95% to only explore when they’re forced to.