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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Mistake No. 3: You didn't follow standards training models.

Training a user community on a major business system like ERP or on a new operating system like Windows Vista involves a lot more than showing employees how to navigate a new desktop or run a specific report. Major system upgrades mean major upheaval to the way users work, and technology training should help users embrace those changes.

“Users need to feel comfortable with change - they need to know what's happening and how it affects their role,” a concept the training community refers to as “organisational readiness,” says Begley. “IT doesn't typically consider organisational readiness as part of the training. What they typically look at is building competency.”

In a similar vein, professional training companies like RWD stress the importance of formal learning models - that is, best practices for teaching different kinds of learners - as critical to a training program's success.

Organisational readiness and learning models are outside the scope of what most would consider general IT acumen. But according to Begley and other training professionals, for a major training program to be a success, it needs to be based on some formal approach.

RWD's learning methodology, for example, encompasses a preparation component that tells users what to expect and explains the specifics of how business processes will change, a run-through of what the new transactions will look like, a “try-it” phase where users can test-drive the system prior to going live, and a support stage where help is accessible on an ongoing basis. IT's skills are focused on the run-through stage of training, but not the other areas, Begley says, and that can lead to ineffective training, she maintains.

Standardisation in training materials is another area where IT often falls short. Users need multiple reference points for learning a system, notes Intelligo's Kelley, be it step-by-step instructions, quick reference cards or Web-based training. That material should be delivered and maintained in a standardised way.

“Lots of times, there's high turnover among the people who do initial training for the 'go-live' stage,” Kelley explains. If the original trainers have left and standardised training materials aren't available, “after a while, things get passed along as tribal knowledge, which over time decreases the ability of people to work in the system,” Kelley warns.

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