The Top Five User Training Mistakes

And here we go! The fateful date, circled on the calendar, is fast approaching. Your new information system’s going live date is coming up, and with it, anxiety is on the rise, because everything needs to be ready and perfect on D-Day. Integrated tests are complete, the production launch plan has been fine-tuned, but have you thought of everything? We often say that a successful implementation is measured based on system usage rates. Therefore, it would be unfortunate to neglect the training of users.

Flooding users with documentation

Let’s be honest. Which consumer truly reads the instruction manual when making a new purchase? Often too theoretical, and filled with unnecessary information, this documentation is mostly used during nights of insomnia! When it comes to user manuals, we must concentrate on critical processes performed by each user, and avoid providing information on functions that have no meaning for him or her. Once the user has read the information, or after a training session, he or she should rather have understood how this system will change his or her life at work.

On top of this, do not hesitate to use plenty of screenshots. Humans always prefer images to text. Adoption and acceptance rates will benefit from this.

Keeping the client on the sidelines

All this is nice and well, but that consultant doesn’t know anything about our reality!

I understood everything during my training, two months ago, but it’s another story now that I’m alone. Where is the guy who trained us?

Yu have probably already heard before the above sentences. The success of a user training session is linked to the client’s involvement in it. Naturally, end-users grant more attention and credibility when they are trained by their peers. Furthermore, identifying super users greatly facilitates appropriation of the system by the users, and allows the client to keep information within the organization.

Consequently, we prefer the “training the trainer” method, where the consultant trains super users, who in turn train end-users. Of course, the consultant remains available to answer questions during the various training sessions. If this option is not feasible, it is essential that a credible employee adequately introduces the consultant to his or her colleagues.

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Not allowing users to practice

Let me share with you a classic saying: “practice makes perfect”. In other words, there is no better way to understand a new system than to use it. To do this, do not cut out any steps.

During training:

  • Favour demonstrations over slideshows
  • Ask users to do the same thing as you do
  • Provide many varied exercises
  • Involve users; “In your opinion, how do we…”

After training:

  • Make sure a testing environment is available
  • Provide additional exercises

Not establishing success criteria or refocusing your aim

Hallway chatter is natural and inevitable. It is often then that real fears and impressions come out, even if written or verbal feedback was asked for. As a manager, it is crucial to take these informal comments into account and to take action if the situation requires it. Like in marketing, word of mouth is very important in the implementation of a system and one must detect the positive and the negative vibe – and act to dissipate fears.

In the biggest projects, it may be useful to ask for formal feedback on the training, or to correct exercises to make sure the information has been understood. It is then possible to convey additional information or provide extra exercises. Missing the target the first time isn’t as serious as not realizing it.

Ongoing traini…what?

Just as sometimes we leave a gourmet restaurant with an appetite for more, it is possible for users to crave extra information. This is a good problem! Once basic functions have been transferred and users are capable of completing usual, daily tasks, it is necessary to train them on more advanced functions. For example, how do you conduct advanced research? How does Outlook interact with the new system? Sending “information capsules” or newsletters represents a good way to convey this information.


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