Any time a new software system is implemented, the move may cause frustrations and stress among employees. Proper training is essential to alleviating these frustrations and to realizing the overall success of the project. Training should not be haphazard. Instead, company leadership should plan for the implementation as it would any other critical business function.
Here are a few tips that company leaders should consider regarding training:
Make the Case and Set a Timeline:
Management needs to begin by making the case for the new system. How will it help? Why is the move necessary? Then, leaders should establish a realistic timeline for deployment. Explain that this is a marathon, not a sprint. Make sure to say that everyone will have a chance to give their input. This builds buy-in and a sense of ownership among frontline users.
Create Cross Functional Teams:
Management may want to assemble an initial team of employees from different departments and roles that will interact with the system. This team will be the first group to test drive the system and identify areas that work as intended and areas that need improvement. Each member should represent their particular department, report back on the project’s progress, and solicit input. This approach can also produce side benefits: by bringing people together that might not normally interact, new relationships and connections can be formed. People can better understand the challenges and processes of other business units.
This seems obvious, but it is often neglected. Company leaders must carve out dedicated time for training. Don’t force people to do it on their own and squeeze it into their already hectic days. Group training is the most common approach, but one-on-one time may be more appropriate in certain situations. Set a regular training schedule so people can plan accordingly. Make these sessions as productive as possible by preparing agendas, setting goals, and assigning homework for the next session.
Get the Basics Right, Then Move into Advanced Features
Again, seems obvious but a strong foundation in the basic functionality is critical. Be careful not to overload trainees by moving too fast. People learn at different paces, and some may be too eager to move on to the next step. Bad habits are often formed as a result of going too fast. For those who do learn quickly, ask them to coach those who are lagging. Once people grasp the basics, then move on to the advanced stuff.
Establish an Off-Line Demo Environment Before Going Live:
Also known as a “sandbox”, an offline demo system can be tested at length before the system goes live. This way people can acclimate and learn without the pressure. If mistakes are made, that’s great! Mistakes at this stage are a good thing! Have users report problems and frustrations in the regular training sessions. Consider a formal mechanism for logging these issues. Then, analyze what happened and adjust the system accordingly. Minor changes or instruction at this stage can make an enormous impact.
There are very few people who can master a new system without any instruction. Practically speaking, everyone needs some level of training. The most important aspect of training is that it cannot be disorganized or inconsistent. It must be thoroughly planned. This will increase buy-in, build confidence, and identify problems along the way. With an organized and systematic approach, the company should realize higher adoption rates and fully realize the value of the system.
For more thoughts on training, please visit our previous blog post, “5 Training Resources for Dynamics CRM” (https://www.crmsoftwareblog.com/2012/01/five-training-resources-for-dynamics-crm/)
by 2B Solutions, Alabama Microsoft Dynamics CRM Partner