Not Getting What You Expected From Your Software - Part 1 of a 2 part series

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If you are not getting what you expected from your software, you’ll be surprised to learn that it’s probably not the software’s fault. PC based accounting software has been around for quite a while now and most of the popular products are mature and can do just about anything necessary to run a business. We find the most common cause is how the software is utilized in the business. In this first of two parts, we’ll talk about user training.

For most businesses, good employees are the most important aspect of a successful and thriving operation. But what makes an employee good? Can you make them better by paying them more money? Not really. We do know there is a relationship between compensation and ability. In most cases, more knowledgeable employees cost more money. But paying an employee more money doesn’t make them more knowledgeable. It is money invested in training that makes an employee more knowledgeable.

One situation we see is the false economy of minimizing training when acquiring new software. It’s the most optimistic place to cut corners but the most expensive in terms of lost benefit. Much of the value in the price of the software is lost when the users have inadequate training to operate it. If the users got half the training they needed, you can’t expect all of what the software is capable of doing. We find that effective user training for newly acquired software is a combination of classroom instruction with structured labs and on-the-job training during the initial implementation period with hands-up access to over-the-shoulder instruction while processing actual business transactions.

But even the best initial training doesn’t mean you will continue to get everything you expect. Within a few years, you’ll probably have some employee turnover or job reassignment. How do these new employee learn the software? If they are instructed by the departing or promoted employee, there’s a good chance that they will learn bad habits and inherit their predecessor’s limited understandings. Cross-training other employees as backup operators will help bridge new employee assignments and preserve the value of prior training. Also within a few years time, the software itself will have changed as new versions are released to keep up with current technology and competition. Without refresher training, employee utilization of software features lags further and further behind the software’s capabilities.

Here are the types of user training you should plan for:

  1. Initial training for newly acquired software covering each application module and system operation. At least one person should achieve Lead Operator level proficiency per module.
  2. Hands Up training with an instructor on site for first few days when going live.
  3. Backup Operator level cross-training for employees who will fill in during periods of volume overload, Lead Operator absences, and for transition during employee turnover.
  4. New employee training for established installations; an abbreviated initial training curriculum that is supplemented by on-the-job assistance from co-workers.
  5. Refresher training for all users to reinforce proper operation and procedures.
  6. New software release training identifying the differences with prior versions and new features.

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90 Minds
90 Minds Consulting Group is an 
association of proactive consulting professionals who combine technology skills while still operating their own independent companies.

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