News Flash: Proper training leads to successful implementation
For most of my adult life, I’ve been involved in the training realm in some form or fashion and I have to say, it is probably one of the most important and under used tools in corporate America today. One of my favorite witticisms is “You don’t buy a fighter jet, set it on the top of an aircraft carrier and tell who ever is walking by to jump in and fly it in combat.” It’s a recipe for disaster, but that is what happens every day in the corporate world. We are asking the people on the front-line to do the impossible. And why does this happen? There are as many reasons as stars in the sky. For example, “Because management says that they do not get value from the training and it is just as easy to keep it in-house and they’ll eventually get the hang of it.” Another reason is, “If we can just get this new tool, there will be money in the budget next year to train everyone.” Well, I’m going to tell you, if all your employees are not fully trained and comfortable with a positive buy in, you are setting yourself and your company up for failure. In a few years, you will be looking for a new solution only to repeat the cycle over again. There is a reason that they say “Hindsight is 20/20.” It is because you can clearly see the mistakes that have been made. Now, the question at this point is, can you learn from these mistakes and create a positive implementation without repeating the sins of the past? I say, “Yes you can!!!!!” The first step is to establish KPI’s (key performance indicators) and continually monitor them. You see, the problem is that most companies do not have the capability to measure the value of the training. Why you ask? They do not even have a baseline of the existing performance that exists in the company. To prove value, there must be something to compare to. For instance: data showing performance increases, more money being made, and happier employees are just a few examples. The second step is dedicating an appropriate amount of the budget to training. There are many instances where companies buy the most business savvy tool with budgets exceeding millions of dollars and what is dedicated to training? Usually about 5 to 10 percent of the IT budget when a more realistic number would be in the 18 to 20 percent range. We all know that in this day and age you have to fight for the small budget you get. What I am saying is that with more of the budget dedicated to the REALISTIC needs of training, the implementation has a greater chance of employee buy in and a greater chance of success. The third step is to spend the budgeted money wisely and pay for a professional trainer. The trainer should be involved from the beginning of the implementation. The trainer needs to have time to understand the current process in place and what the new process is going to be. This will enable the trainer to develop custom training that’s relevant. On the initial implementation, it is imperative that your staff receive the same information that is consistent and presented effectively. Using the train-the-trainer process can lead to a lot of standardization problems. Let me break this down. You have a trainer come in and train four company individuals who are expected to go back and train all the staff. The problem with this is that no two people pull the same information from the training. There will always be differences, no matter how small, that will surface. This is the point where standardization starts to disintegrate. These four trainers will go back and individually train users or groups on what they learned, which may or may not be the same. You then have a domino effect and create groups of users doing things differently. So what are my training Options? 1. Web based training that can be hosted on the company’s internal LMS (Learning Management System), which provides a good option for consistency. This option can be used multiple times increasing ROI and normally will have some type of test that ensures the learner picked up on what is being presented. Make sure that you negotiate ownership of the content produced in the training contract. Be aware that one hour of web based training takes up to four weeks to create. 2. On-site training classes with labs are another very useful solution. This gives a group of learners, usually no more that 15 at a time, for two hour blocks, the ability to learn directly from the instructor. MAKE SURE THAT THE TRAINING IS CONDUCTED ON SOFTWARE AND ON EQUIPMENT THAT HAS BEEN THOROUGHLY BEEN TESTED FOR BUGS. Training on an unstable platform will create doubt in the users and prime the implementation for failure. 3. Online live training can be used to link groups of people together via conferencing software. Users can log on a computer and listen to an instructor and also have access to a lab environment. 4. "Train-the-trainer" on-site classes. While I am not a fan of train-the-trainer type classes, after the initial implementation phase is completed, conducting a train-the-trainer class is not a bad thing. This ensures that all the trainers received the same initial training and are now having those skills reinforced with an additional training class. It can be included in the contract for the actual trainer to provide standardized material for the train the trainer staff to utilize. These are just a few of the things to consider related to training your staff while also ensuring a positive implementation. Every training option has pros and cons which need to be weighed. Preparation in the beginning increases the chance that success will be achieved in the end.