Don't make training an afterthought

Have you ever been involved in training that was not well planned or was simply an afterthought? A TechRepublic reader tells how focusing on the project at hand while neglecting the training that will be needed down the line affected his company's telephony integration.

“What is the lesson I learned? When you’re working in state-of-the-art technology, be sure everyone who touches your project knows the full scope and goals, especially those responsible for training.”

These are the heartfelt words of Marc Hopkins, one of our TechRepublic readers. He recently responded to a Training NetNote that asked, “Does telephony training exist? If so, what type of training is conducted, who conducts the training, and who is trained?” Hopkins wrote us about his company’s recent experience with telephony integration and how an oversight regarding training affected the project.

The problem
“Both the current and forecasted growth had overloaded the Cincinnati-based company. The addition of offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, and Birmingham, as well as a planned presence in several other cities, made the company’s communications infrastructure a top priority in early 1998.”
Mark was part of a team that redesigned his company’s entire communications structure, utilizing integrated and centralized voice and data. A major part of the project involved overhauling the company’s Internet and interoffice data connections.
How did training fit in the picture?
“Our RFP required vendors to offer system training to the users as part of the package deal. My mistake was not to inquire further about the training, or about how much training experience the vendor had with multiple location systems.

"Because our integrated communications system turned out to be the first of its kind, the training department for the vendor we choose could not have been prepared for the level of assistance our staff would need. Unbeknownst to us, the training group was understaffed and overworked. As such, we had to train 80-some staffers in cattle-call-style sessions. The young lady charged with this task did admirably well considering the circumstances. I was able to sit in on all training sessions and steer her through the rough spots in which she was unfamiliar.

"The vendor worked with us to correct the training disaster, and should be commended for the extra effort. The vendor also worked with our training and administration staff to resolve all of the little issues that have come up over the last 18 months since the install. We now have a dedicated in-house training coordinator as well. We still conduct telephony training one-on-one, and system administration training happens very informally.”

The lesson
“What is the lesson I learned from this? When you’re working in state-of-the-art technology, be sure everyone who touches your project knows the full scope and goals, especially those persons responsible for training! The new challenge? Training users on an ever-sliding scope utilizing a state-of-the-art communications infrastructure.”

Marc Hopkins is a 10-year veteran of communications and IT. Based on his experience with broadcasting and computer technology, he calls himself a “Digital Communications Engineer.” He holds degrees in music, psychology, and communications, and is pursuing CCNP and MCSE+I certifications. In his spare time, he works as a freelance producer in music, television, and theater.

If you have experienced training issues during a corporate project, we’d like to hear about your trials and successes. Please send your training stories to us at the TrainingRepublicmailbox . If you would like to comment on this article, please post your views below.

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