Training is a critical and often daunting phase of any solution deployment within an IT organization. Project launches are often pushed back due to delays in training and fear that the user community is not prepared. Hours are burned developing custom product manuals that are never used. Below are some tips to help your IT teams build a training program that will support the success of your project.
Develop a Training Plan
Take time to analyze and document training needs and an overall approach. The analysis should produce the list of users that need to be trained, segmented into different roles. Within each role, determine the tasks the users must execute to successfully perform their jobs and the skills that must be learned to accomplish those tasks. From there, develop a training methodology. This includes defining course objectives, the target audience for a particular course, media characteristics, training criteria, and costs. Finally, establish training milestones that are incorporated into the overall project plan. This will ensure that any training deliverables are aligned with the project phases and will not create any delays.
Train (and Fail) Early
The training activities should not be squashed into a phase between testing and GoLive. The tasks and milestones of the training plan should span the life cycle of the project. During the build and testing phases, solution testers will need to be trained on how to use the solution so they can effectively test. This is an opportunity to begin building the training materials and curriculum. The training should be kept simple (not exhaustive) and focused on the nuances of the solution functionality. The testers need to be allowed room to navigate and guide the workflow on their own. This will provide the training team with an understanding of what tasks/utilities are intuitive, and what are confusing. The feedback received will help to build targeted training materials.
Use Mixed Media, not Manuals
Some organizations exhaust considerable resources on lengthy user manuals that are often not used and/or quickly become outdated. A diverse mix of clear and concise materials will be better leveraged by the user community and are easier to maintain. PowerPoint slides are excellent for driving instructor-led courses. These should be supplemented with “cheat sheets” that the trainees can use once the class is complete. These sheets should include distilled information that will help them complete their jobs – short cuts, work flow instructions, toolbar options, etc. Short video recordings are also excellent tools to demonstrate “how to” show-and-tells. These should be kept to 3 minutes or less. Finally, develop an internal FAQ or “wiki” page that lists common questions/answers on the new solution. This should be interactive and updated frequently to ensure that the information is pertinent and constantly evolving.
Identify business cases
Hands-on training is a critical component of IT solution training. In order to keep the training sessions focused, the instinct is to develop step-by-step instructions to guide the trainee through a particular use case. While the user will be able to complete this specific example, they may not understand how to use the tool without direct instruction. Each trainee should be challenged to identify a business case that they have experienced and attempt to work it within the solution during the training session. If users can do their jobs, the training has been a success.
About the Author:
Mark Bower, Solution Architect - Evergreen Systems
Mark will be providing instruction on ServiceNow SysAdmin, based on the Calgary release, on May 12 & 13, at Knowledge13 in Las Vegas. You can also meet Mark in Evergreen’s Booth #1125 during the ExpoNow hours on May 13 - 15. For more information on Knowledge13, click here.
Mark has over 11 years of experience in IT Consulting. He is ITIL certified, and has served as both Solution Architect and Project Manager for more than thirty IT solution and process implementations/transformations to date. Mark currently architects and leads ITSM deployments for Evergreen Systems.