You should not overlook technology training as a way to both reduce wasted time and maximize the return on investment for that technology. While employees may use applications like Excel on a daily basis, incomplete training leaves many unaware of some of their more advanced features. When otherwise simple tasks are performed the hard way again and again, the time wasted is a direct consequence of undervaluing employee training. Even many seemingly thorough training programs in fact lead workers toward the same doom by the nature of their design, being largely mechanical without training a perceptive understanding of the application. This is important, as the proper fixes can significantly increase productivity, lessen the burden on other company resources, and eschew potential disaster.
Change the way training is managed
From middle management that cannot directly measure effectiveness, to the immediate practical concerns of IT, it seems that technology training is a burden poorly borne within many organizations. However the pie is divided, it is often without regard to the whole; and as organizational efficiency suffers, time is wasted in more ways than one. Many potential solutions to this problem exist depending on your situation, but they should all revolve around improving communication. Forging partnerships between HR, IT, and other stakeholders such as dedicated training groups is crucial to the success of a coherent training system; management of training must be as systematized as the training itself if you want to attack lost time at its source.
Develop your training programs
Nothing breeds inefficiency like not following the book in the first place. An effective training program has structure and follows standard educational models, taking into account different learning styles and what professional training companies call organizational readiness: ensuring that employees feel comfortable with system changes and how their roles are affected. Such a system keeps employees connected with standardized training materials and various preparation components, going well beyond competency-building and the scope of departments that have traditionally been in charge of training. To minimize time wasted organizationally and individually, you will need to go all the way in following modern standards and building integrated, standardized programs within business units and partnerships.
Accept training as a requisite part of the process
Plan for technology training up front. With the role that technology now plays in the workplace, it is no longer economical to blame the end user when employees are inefficient and waste time. For best results, it becomes the responsibility of the company to cover its bases by placing a higher priority on training interests. Too often, that responsibility is handed off to a faction with more immediate concerns, and training ends up a last-minute scramble in the hurly-burly of office life. According to McGladrey, a good training program should account for 10 to 13 percent of a given technology spend, yet end-user training is rarely factored into the total cost of system rollouts. If you want to save time while distributing resources where they matter, you would do well to plan for it up front and avoid compromising what is arguably the most important part to get right.
Emphasize training skills
When delivering training, it is important that instructors be skilled in training delivery specifically. It is more useful to connect with the audience and present information in an engaging manner than it is to simply be an expert in the field, which can result in convoluted or oversimplified explanations. Ineffective lessons waste many resources, time among them. In keeping with the increased training priority, you may want to consider hiring staff with skills and experience of this nature, or otherwise outsource the training position to specialized educators. Using people in the roles they are best suited for is efficiency itself. Training and communications should be made a core competency of whoever is directly involved.
Connect training to employee life
Communicating with and understanding training recipients is a big part of designing a comprehensive and effective program, but it is equally important that the relationship with technology go both ways. Employees must understand and value the training as much as the company does, or else they will feel that their time is being wasted. Training should be opened up to them directly and made available as a useful tool to continually explore, rather than exist as a peripheral requirement to be overleaped. To this end, you might ensure that training and employee interaction with it are ongoing, supplemented by open classes and up-to-date training materials such as blogs and videos. If training is to be a solution for wasted time, it must be fully integrated into the lives of its beneficiaries in order to work, creating natural efficiency in practice so as never to feel burdensome or arbitrary.
Finally, you can minimize wasted time by training directly for productivity. Instead of imparting abstract competencies, your program might focus on how technology changes the business process specifically, without losing sight of that context in the technical details. When you have access to a valuable technology, you should figure out how to make full use of it. The technology is there in the first place to help the company be more productive, so use it to that end. If instructors trained in business functions could present it not just as a nebulous "tool," but as a method of doing something, they would encourage the kind of understanding that allows all resources to be used to their fullest potential.