In most companies, there are as many departments as there are software applications to run the departments. There is accounting software for the accounts payable department and database software for the inventory and stock departments. The design department needs its share of graphical programs. Let’s not forget the messaging and network software that holds it all together.

Choosing the right training for your users can make or break end-user confidence. Most training companies offer the basics in applications such as Microsoft Office, Outlook, Lotus Notes, and Adobe. What happens when you need a customized training package? What you may not realize is that most training companies will offer a customized solution to fit your training needs. Choosing your training wisely is the key to a well-balanced base of knowledge.

Keep a database of user questions
So you’ve found a training vendor that will train your users with a customized training package. Now all you have to do is put together a training package tailored to your company’s needs. There are many ways to decide on specific software to learn. I have found one way to help me sort through the different applications in our company and zero in on only the software that will benefit us the most. Every day I get flooded with calls asking me how to do something in a particular piece of software. How do I print envelopes? Where is my proposal that I just spent eight hours working on? What does it mean when it says, ”Invalid system disk, please insert a bootable disk and press any key to continue”? If I write down each question that comes across my desk, I can assemble a training package that is tailor made to my users’ needs. I even categorize them as to which piece of software is in question. Now not only do I have a solution to many of my help desk questions, but I also have a pretty good idea of the software in need of the most training.

Collaborate with your training partner
Once your training data is collected, it’s time to bring in the vendor. Set up a meeting or ask them to come in and observe your day-to-day operations. Let them see firsthand what kind of training is needed. Finally, give the data you have collected and let them decide if their program can be fitted to your needs. In fact, I make sure my training vendors install the different software we use in my company so they can test it on their machines and get a firsthand look at the applications. In most cases the vendor will welcome this approach because not only does it allow them to learn your specific needs, but it also broadens his or her own knowledge base. The more they know, the more business they can generate. Everybody wins in this situation.

Most of the software out today is user friendly. With a little tweaking here and there, you can develop a solid training strategy. This will make your users work more efficiently with the company’s software. Also, the more knowledgeable your users become in using the network, e-mail, and the different software packages, the fewer headaches you will have.

Matthew Mercurio is the manager of information systems for Clear Channel Broadcasting. Follow this link to send Matthew an e-mail.