Tech & Work

You know what's important about end-user training? The end user

End-user training is often a huge fail because IT pros don't consider the needs or the learning style of their audience members.

Let's talk about training a little bit. Training end-users is probably one of the most important aspects of successfully rolling out a new technology in an organization, yet it is also one of the most poorly executed tasks.

I recently attended a training session on a new enterprise tool. I walked away thinking that that was an hour of my life that I would never get back again. I'm not one to criticize but... (I really am, I just put that line in there to give my regular readers a chuckle.)

Here are some ways that I think the presenters could have done a better job:

Tailor the presentation

The tool I was being trained on was one that would be shared by several properties in our business group. But guess what? I don't care how Group A or Group B will be using it. Why would I? I've got enough on my plate and no room on the docket for strolling through 700 features that I will never use. Maybe you used the one presentation across the board to save time? Honestly, I don't care. If you can't take the time to customize the presentation for my benefit, then don't invite me.

Use examples

If I will be using a tool to perform x, y, and z, then I want you to walk through examples of x, y, and z. Show me a typical example of MY work and how it will be done with this tool. You can go through and point out all the bells and whistles but unless they have a practical application, then count me out. I've got work to do.

Consider the old tool

I think it would be really cool if engineers had to really get to know the old application end-users are using before they start adapting or creating a new app. Because I think that's the best way to understand the usability preferences end-users are accustomed to.

It's also a more straightforward way to explain the new tool to me. "In the old tool, you had to do this to accomplish this task. In the new tool, this is how you'll be using it." Draw some comparisons FOR me and show me you give a crap about how the new tool will affect my work.

A friend of mine, Jeff Davis, wrote a great piece on IT pro presentations in sales meetings that bring up some other excellent points. I think both of our takeaways focus on one main aspect of presentations: Know your audience and proceed from there.


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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