Implementing a new technology solution across your business is no small feat.
After mapping out your business specifications, securing executive buy-in and carefully managing the project, your work is still only half done.
One of the biggest factors in successfully adopting technology occurs after the implementation itself: training. If you don't have a training plan in place, your new solution is unlikely to be adopted across your company, and you won't enjoy all the benefits of the digital transformation.
The key is to take a process-centric approach, which will allow you to cover all your bases and provide your entire team with training that makes them feel confident using your new technology.
Read on to learn how to develop your training plan – from choosing the right methods, materials and resources to facilitating your digital transformation into the future.
Forming the outline of your training plan
You should start developing your training plan long before the technology solution is deployed. Ideally, your training plan will start to take shape as soon as the design for the new technology has been finalized. At this point, you will have a good idea of how the technology will function and how it will be used by your entire team, which is critical information for a comprehensive training plan.
Now is the time to think about your employees – the end users. There are two important factors any good training outline must address: the technical skill level of the end users and the array of learning styles of the end users.
1. Think about your end users' technical skills.
Your teams use technology in different ways and for different purposes. As a result, your employees will vary greatly in their technological knowledge, familiarity and comfort. Take all competencies, skills and use cases into account as you build an outline for the training plan. This will ensure that your training plan serves its purpose to bolster the companywide adoption of your new technology.
2. Consider different training methods.
Remember that not all your employees will learn in the same way. Consider using a diverse mix of training methods, materials and resources that hit all three learning types: kinesthetic learners, auditory learners and visual learners.
Kinesthetic learners learn by doing. They want to dive in and practice a skill. They enjoy simulations and other types of training that immerse them right in the technology itself, such as gamification-based exercises.
Auditory learners learn by listening. They are best served by traditional training methods such as seminars, lectures, and lunch-and-learns. They also benefit from opportunities to ask questions and talk through problems with another person, which might make mentoring opportunities a valuable part of your training plan.
Visual learners learn by seeing. They learn well through online tutorials, training videos, and presentations that incorporate graphics, charts and text.
Identifying the needs of the employees who will be using the new system is essential, as their needs will guide the initial outline for your training plan and the development of the training sessions.
Designing your training plan
With an outline formed, you're ready to create the step-by-step guide to conducting your training. Here's how you can flesh out your outline and create a foolproof training plan.
1. Provide clear structure.
Without a clearly structured training plan, your employees are likely to become confused and frustrated with the training and, in turn, with the technology itself. Worse, a poorly organized training program can make the new solution appear more difficult to use than it really is. Your teams will be less open to trying out the technology – never mind using it on a daily basis – if it seems to be less user-friendly than the existing business process.
Design your training program logically. Each part of the training program should focus on a learning objective or skill employees should attain before they move on to the next section. Start with the simplest skills and build up methodically from one skill to the next. By structuring your training plan in an accessible way, you emphasize the usability of your new system. It also provides your teams with a positive experience from the very beginning of the digital transformation and increases the likelihood that they will want to use the technology.
2. Decide who will lead the training.
A good trainer must be equipped with both technical skills and communication skills to effectively train your employees. There are a few ways to go about identifying a good training leader: You can outsource your training, manage it in-house or use a mix of both methods.
If you use in-house trainers, such as managers or members of the IT department, allow plenty of time for them to get comfortable with the training program and the new technology before they are expected to train others. Make sure final preparations have been made to instruct trainers by the time the new technology has been implemented and is being evaluated. That way, training can start as soon as any bugs have been ironed out and the technology is deployed to all employees.
3. Define when the training starts and how long it lasts.
Training should begin as soon as your new technology is deployed, which means you should provide clear communication before the deployment date about when the technology will go into effect and what employees can expect.
Look for ways to turn your deployment announcement into a training opportunity. Award a prize to the first 10 employees who use the technology to complete a particular function, or give a demonstration on how an employee used it to close a sale right after it was deployed.
If you've chosen a variety of training methods and designed a program that methodically moves from skill to skill, your training program will naturally take more than a few days to complete. Any good training program will likely stretch over months and may even last up to a year to bring your company to full adoption. While this might sound like a long training period, it ensures that your teams have plenty of time to adjust to the new system and practice working with it.
After all, digital transformation is a big change, and you want your teams to feel confident using your new technology on a day-to-day basis by the end of the training.
Making the most of your training plan
Even after your training plan has kicked off, you can take action to ensure its effectiveness.
Monitoring technology adoption rates allows you to see how quickly your teams are adjusting to the new system. You can also check whether the technology is helping you improve the metrics your company is focused on, such as more sales, better customer retention or greater efficiency. If any of these numbers are below what you expected, it might be because your employees are struggling to use the technology.
Actively seeking employee feedback will help you understand areas where your teams are unable to use the technology to its full potential. Feedback straight from the end users can give you the information you need to offer further support in the learning process. Provide feedback mechanisms to all employees. Consider creating feedback groups of employees across your organization to get the full picture of the end-user experience. This will allow you to make any updates necessary to refine your training program and boost companywide adoption.
Creating a robust training plan and continuously evaluating the program isn't an overnight project. A well-developed training plan with clear structure will make a lasting impact on technology adoption. By following these guidelines, you can usher in a new technology that supports your teams with their work processes and drives transformative business value for your company.