It's probably obvious that when you introduce a completely new software platform at your company you should have a training plan ready. But what you might not have realized is the importance of establishing such a plan when you're rolling out a newer version of something familiar—such as Office or email software.
The truth is when migrating to newer versions of software, training can help prevent productivity loss. Beyond that, short training sessions can help users maintain their skill sets while highlighting new features that can boost their capacities of using the software.
Here's our four-step software rollout plan:
Step 1: Identify users' specific needs within the software you're deploying.
Your employees' time is valuable and limited, and you can demonstrate your understanding of this by personalizing their experiences. For example, PowerPoint can be a valuable tool for all employees within a company, but it's used differently by various roles and departments. By allowing your employees to understand their real usage of the application, you can not only prioritize training topics, but also determine your training priority for different users and departments.
Step 2: Communicate to those who will use the software why they and the company need it.
Some people just resist change—a frustrating fact for those who are introducing something new. If your users understand the purpose behind the change, however, they may be more likely to embrace it. And the more willing they are to accept it, the more likely they are to pay close attention to training. Further, this is an opportunity to listen. By addressing specific concerns, you're also mitigating fear or discomfort among those who may not be as technologically minded as others.
Step 3: Plan training early and time it accordingly.
Ideally, your users will be exposed to their new software prior to deployment. Webinars and demonstrations of new features are great ways to get them excited and helps reinforce that open communication you encouraged in Step 2. With that being said, you don't want to train them months before they'll actually be using it. Instead, time your training closer to deployment and make sure you're targeting the right users. If it's a totally new software, you may want to segment them into appropriate training groups when possible, as referenced in Step 1.
Step 4: Anticipate and limit IT-support needs by preparing for life after deployment.
Every rollout needs its champions—primarily those who can help others use the software. Identify your coaches and subject-matter experts prior to deployment and have a plan in place for your users to ask for their support. Training a few of these experts in advance can make the process considerably less expensive in the long run, as it can help to prevent mistakes or the need to hire outside help. You may even want to consider having a coach or two on your help desk for a temporary period for relevant questions. And always have additional learning opportunities ready for your users, so they can target specific parts of the software where it matters most to them.
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