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Training is not a one-off event

 

Training sessions should be organized as closely as possible to the moment when users need to apply what is learned. This principle has been used for many years to plan training sessions in preparation for a go live. It is an effective way to prevent “skill slip” that situation where attendees have forgotten most of what is trained by the time they have to apply it and thus minimizing the effects of the Ebbinghaus forgetting curve.

The key users or trainers, frequently employees who have participated in the project, deliver these training sessions for their colleagues. They show them the new processes and provide the opportunity to get hands-on experience through exercises. Nothing wrong with that.

Unfortunately, it often seems to be the case that end users do not have enough skills and knowledge to do their jobs successfully with the new system.

What is going wrong? I will gladly share three of my findings:

1. The training comes too early

How can a training, that is planned so close to the go live date, come too early? That has to do with the fact that people learn best when there is an urgency. If this urgency first presents itself during the initial training session, because employees hear about the business case and the changes the project will bring for the first time, this will most certainly lead to resistance.

This is where change management is critical – early on you need to create a base level of support for the project among employees and inform them about the consequences of the project for their roles. This will put them in a learning mode when the time comes for training and reduce the resistance level.

2. The training is too short

If employees do not have enough knowledge and skills to do their work properly, the solution for this seems obvious: give them more training! An IDC-study shows that for certain applications providing only two hours of additional training will lead to significantly  better employee performance. Also, the effect on the reduction on the number of helpdesk tickets with extra training can be found in this study.

3. The training stops before go-live

Before the new application is being used, the training programme is often finished and marked as complete by the project manager. This does not make sense since, in “real life”, users are confronted with situations that were not covered in the training sessions – and for which they need help – after the go-live. This would be an ideal moment to deliver additional training to them. By measuring the actual usage of the application and analysing the results, e.g. with SAP User Experience Management by KNOA, training gaps can easily be identified. This will prevent future operational errors from happening and make sure that the application is used in the way it was intended.

Since applications are now being updated on a regularly basis, it is important not to stop training its users before the go-live. Especially when you are using cloud applications, new versions are available multiple times a year. Using a training strategy in which employees are continuously are being effectively and efficiently upskilled is therefore more important than ever.

I would love to hear from you what other findings you have when it comes to training your users. Please leave your comments so we can learn from each others insights!

[This blog post was previously published on the Dutch SAP blog site. You can find the original post (in Dutch) here.] 

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