There is no right or wrong way to deliver your training, but there are preferable methods depending on the number of users involved, the training topic, and the location of your trainers and trainees.
In some cases, it’s optimal to have a multi-day onsite summit in which all users meet . In other cases, it is better to conduct virtual training sessions and record for future reference. There are many different training methodologies, including demos, hands-on exercises, homework, and so on. Giving thought to which methods will work best for your users is crucial for proper planning.
Not everyone will want or need a certification program, but sometimes they are necessary – especially with more advanced users, customer administrators, or integration and development roles. Having a well-constructed certification program implies that anyone acquiring a specific access level must complete a training series and pass a specific test or set of exercises. This is typically managed by the platform owner or training manager. With a strong certification program that requires ongoing renewal, you ensure those who have the most advanced access to your platform are properly trained and up-to-date with the latest changes.
Certification programs do not have to be complex. You can create training modules yourself or work with an outside agency, like Relationship One, to develop them for you. Sophisticated training platforms can be used, or simple, on-demand videos can be created for trainee access and updated as needed. Exercises can be completed and reviewed within your sandbox instance. As you consider your program, think about what kinds of certification make sense for your organization.
Training Materials and Documentation
As you craft the the outline for your curriculum, document the training materials required before, during, and after your training. You may want your users to freshen their skills on basic capabilities before your actual sessions. It may also be important to have documentation, exercises, or reference guides available for use during the classes themselves.
Similarly, homework documents, reference documents, and the like should be crafted in advance so they are available after training. Never underestimate the time required to design thorough and proper training materials – they almost always take longer than you expect.
It’s also never too early to start working with the internal team that manages your file-sharing system. You’ll want to ensure there is a centrally located repository so all users can access the required training resources. Working on document access in advance will make for a smoother process.
Training Management and Responsibilities
Before you start training, define clear roles and responsibilities for training management and sessions. Communicate who your trainees will be for each session and what their responsibilities will be throughout the process. If your session is live, define who will set up, facilitate the training, review homework, provide real-time support, handle audio/visual requirements, and so on.
When virtual, many of these still apply, with the additional requirement of knowing who will handle trainee questions and typical housekeeping items. Make sure all of these plans are in order so everyone is clear on their role during the training.
You will also want to structure your training team to manage post-training needs. Who will answer follow-up questions? Who will be in charge of reviewing homework? If you are building a certification program, who will maintain it, manage approvals, and review tests? There certainly needs to be “point person” for your training, but there are often many other roles that must be clearly defined and communicated.
Last, but certainly not least, as you define training process for your current users, keep in mind your future needs. Remember, completion of your training program is just the beginning. You will continue to have new users, thanks to turnover and new hires. Keep them in mind as you identify your requirements, delivery methods, and certification and/or testing procedures. Plan for both short-term and long-term needs, and define your internal responsibilities accordingly.
Unless there is a major change in your organization—such as an implementation, migration, or restructuring—training can get less attention than other strategic projects. However, given the importance of proper usage and governance to your organization’s overall success, training should be at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
I encourage you to take a few minutes to do a quick mental check and compare your users’ platform access to their skill levels. Are there gaps? Do these gaps raise concerns? Could they lead to improper usage, bad data, poor reporting, or broken processes? If yes, then consider a thorough training audit for your organization. It could be the difference between success and failure.
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