CXO

Lack of formal end-user training program makes IT look bad

It's a classic story. A new technology is rolled out in the company but no one bothers to show the end-users how to use it.

In a recent blog, I talked about an IT trainer who had been demoted because his supervisor thought he lacked people skills. That blog prompted another TechRepublic member to write in with other questions about training. She wrote:

I work for a large company with at least 350 people in IT, but no training department. One of our biggest problems occurs after a project is completed, and we turn the finished product over to the business. We may have trained a few key individuals, or we've rushed on to the next big project - no looking back. Those key people may not have the skills or the will to train others, then the others get discouraged and refuse to use the product.

Since we have offices throughout North America, and now some jobs on other Continents, the lack of user engagement is widespread, and our work is not used. Naturally, complaints follow and the IT staff appears incompetent.

Do you have advice on the best way to encourage management to adopt the idea that training begins in IT? Do you have any Lessons Learned or Best Practices articles for building and maintaining a Training team?

It amazes me how some companies don't see the value of proper end-user training. They're willing to pay thousands of dollars for a new product that is supposed to improve productivity but aren't willing to do the one thing that will help with that product's adoption in the enterprise. A good end-user training strategy will make new software deployments more cost-effective.

And I understand how frustrating it is for IT when they're work is not used simply because end-users don't know how to use it.

If your CIO agrees with you about the need for a formal training program, he should create a business case for it. (Here's a piece from Patrick Gray on what you include in a business case.) Be sure to include as many numbers as you can to make your case, stressing the bottom-line benefits. Without them, the concept of training can seem kind of soft to those who don't get it.

Once you get something approved, you can set about making the training program effective for all the end-users. One of TechRepublic's regular contributors, Deb Shinder, wrote a great piece on how to plan your end-user training strategy before software roll-out. In it, she talks about how you must determine end-user needs and decide the best way to deliver the training. Another source for what to expect in your training courses is a blog written by William Jones called, Keep your training classes useful with these four rules.

I'd like to pose a question to all TechRepublic members to get an idea of the training situation for your companies. Please take the poll below.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

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