IT's top 5 training mistakes

It's all too natural for IT to cast blame on end users when new or upgraded systems hit problems, but rather than pointing fingers, IT should instead consider its own role in training miscues, experts advise.

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As a result, Unisys University, a companywide training group, partnered with IT to deal with training issues after the fact, when the software landed on people's desktops. "There was a flurry of calls about 'how do you do this?'" recalls Weston Morris, chief architect with Unisys's strategic programs office for Microsoft products. "It was an expensive proposition."

This time around, Unisys is taking a proactive approach to end-user training. It is preparing to roll out Windows Vistato more than 30,000 users, starting this April and continuing through 2009. Unisys University and IT are again co-handling the Vista training, Morris says, but this time, training will begin before the software hits the desktops.

Among the initiatives is a collaborative effort with Unisys' early adopter community to identify common trouble spots and create customised training exercises that will address those concerns.

Unisys is also putting a program in place that requires users to complete the training on Vista and get certified before they're upgraded to the new operating system. “We want make sure [users] have a basic understanding of the technology so they're not going to be calling the help desk with silly questions they should be able to handle if they took the training,” Morris explains.

One area that companies frequently overlook when it comes to upfront planning is future requirements for training after the initial deployment, Morris says.

After a period of time on the new software or hardware platform, users typically advance to more sophisticated functions, but training typically doesn't cover those capabilities. As a result, users are left to muddle through on their own.

In addition, without proper training on more sophisticated new features, users often don't graduate to new functionality, and companies in turn lose out on some of the business benefits for which they purchased new systems in the first place, notes ITrain's Murphy.

Another concern: Most organisations have changing staffing situations and fluid business processes. With all that change, it's often not clear who's responsible for updating training curricula and materials to reflect the current computing environment, notes RWD's Begley. “Someone needs to take ownership of training materials to make sure the incoming people don't get static and outdated information,” says Begley, who makes the case that individual business units - not IT - should take ownership of that role.

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