It’s inevitable that implementing new software has an impact on the daily routines of the employees. The business has developed, the current software doesn’t fulfil the needs anymore or there’s new software required for digital transformation. Once the decision has been made to start with new software, another investment (besides the financial investment) should be thought of: investment in user training.
Investment in training, a financial and employee benefit
For many reasons investment on training is important. From a management perspective we’ll start with the fact that it will enhance the ROI because the software adoption by the users will be one pillar of your project success. To be sure the employees will adopt and embrace the new software, a user training is key. Without training, people tend to hold back on using the new software, but also use it “as they see fit” which will be less structured and results different internal procedures that are not very beneficial for the company’s ROI. But what is the best way to get the most out of the training sessions? Dave van der Heijden, trainer at Efficy in The Netherlands has some tips and advice for you.
Training, a shared responsibility
In one of the previous blog posts, we already explained how training will benefit the implementation of a CRM-project. But how do you setup a training that really benefits the company, the new software, but above all: the employees. First of all it’s the responsibility of every department together with the management team. Involve the HR department, but also the (internal) communication department and if available in the company, of course the training department.
So, let’s take a concrete look at the steps, situations and conditions that need to be checked to get prepared.
Divide your users into groups (Regular users, Key users, Application managers)
Try to have a maximum of 8 people per group, to ensure there will be time to ask specific questions and to minimize the chance that people lose attention.
Make sure there is at least a manager or key user present at every user training session to answer company specific questions, to show involvement in the project and find out which questions arise per group of attendees.
When you put people from a single department in one group, this will be very effective. Mixing people from different departments will have the downside that people lose concentration because they don’t need and want to know about functionalities they don’t use in their daily tasks. But… Sometimes it helps the company in a positive way when people know what their colleagues are doing with the new software.
People are different:
Every person has got a learning curve of its own. Some people will be fast, while others will be slow(er). Most of the times you will know your people and therefore know if they will pick up new things fast or not. By mixing the “faster” people with the “slower” ones, you make sure that both kinds of people can learn from each other. If you would put the same kind of people in separate groups, it would be easier for the trainer to adjust the speed but in our opinion it’s better to mix and end up in the middle (speed wise). This also avoids the ‘I have been put in the slow group, so I am not good enough’-feeling.
Arrange a dedicated training room
Most of the training sessions take 4 to 8 hours and will drain energy from the attendee mentally, so when the physical things are optimal it will be better. Make sure the dedicated training room is equipped with enough comfortable seats, fast computers, beamer or big monitor/TV and possibly air conditioning. As you would expect, when the conditions are good the people will have a better focus.
Limit possible distractions
People entering and leaving the training room and the use of mobile devices will have a bad influence on the training. Also inform the trainees to try not to discuss company related processes. Of course, there will be discussions needed about how the software will be used – and these are very important – but it’s better to discuss this in another meeting instead of during the training.
Take care of the inner body
As mentioned in item 2, the training requires a lot from the trainees. Don’t forget drinks (water), possibly some snacks (cookies) and a healthy energy lunch.
A positive management speech at the start or the end of the training session, explaining what this new software brings to the company and the improvement on their daily processes, can make them see ‘the reason why’ and gives a motivation boost.
We are not in high school anymore, so a cheat-sheet is not forbidden. You can have different cheat-sheats, one company specific version and versions per department. It’s an ‘HowTo’ for the use of the software. For example: for the sales department, in case of new CRM-software you could have an ‘How to add a company / contact’ and a ‘How to create an opportunity and describe how and which fields should be registered’ (i.e. Register the city in all capital letters).
You can’t expect miracles after one user training. Follow up session(s) are important. These are small (1 hour) sessions every other week during the first 3-6 months where the (key) users can evaluate and discuss about the new software with the management. This can be both for how the people are using it, but also for extra needs or changes to the software based on suggestions from the users. For example: If the ‘city’ field needs to be registered with all capital letters, the software could be changed in order to automatically capitalize the letters if they are not.
Think about introducing a bonus system for people that use the software correctly. You can think of targets like creating an amount of new contacts/companies, creating an amount of opportunities, closing the number of incidents, but also suggestions on how to make the software even better etc. etc. Use gamification to make it attractive and interactive.
It’s a question of effort
Training is not as much a financial investment, but an investment in human effort. From everyone within the company, from senior management, till the employees that will work daily with the new software. Working together throughout the departments is key and with a good preparation, offering the trainees the right circumstances to learn the new software, user acceptance will be improved.