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. 4: You're training out of business context.

IT is quite comfortable with instruction on the particulars of how to use a particular CRM package or how to securely configure a laptop or wireless network, but the training often stops there. What's missing is teaching users how to use that new business system to augment traditional work patterns. To do so, IT trainers need an understanding of how a particular business function like marketing or procurement works, knowledge they don't always have.

“The purpose of end-user training is to help a company be more productive in making money,” explains ITrain's Murphy. “That means the trainer has to understand the business and organisational functions, and that's where very confident technicians often miss the boat. They're focused on the details of their equipment rather than the whole purpose of having that equipment for a department to run more effectively.”

Menno Aartsen, a former technology executive, learned the importance of business context years ago when he trained an early generation of users on laptops at three divisions within Verizon. The IT training team made a point to emphasise how mobility could change users' work patterns - a key point given that many rank-and-file employees at the time thought of laptops as simply desktop-replacement machines.

So rather than simply instructing users on how to use docking stations or what to do with USB memory devices, the training team demonstrated how the mobility afforded by the new laptops could help workers log on remotely at night to get ahead or catch up on paperwork during their commute, new practices at the time.

“Rather than just rolling out laptops to executives or important managers so they could carry around data, we looked at a broad spectrum of users and positioned mobility as a tool that could enable new kinds of work,” Aartsen says. Almost at once, a vast majority of the newly empowered workforce was willing to stay connected on the weekends and during other off-hours, he recalls.

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