Training Your Staff to Use New Software? Here Are 7 Questions You Need to Ask

Sep 21, 2020 | Inventory Apps, Training

If you’re bringing a new piece of business software into your business, you might think you’re in for an easy ride.

Developers are doing everything they can to make their software as accessible and intuitive as possible – and the average user is more digital-friendly than ever before.

And to an extent, that’s true. But it’s not the whole story:

Today’s modern software is more powerful and advanced than ever before. And with so many businesses relying on their software for their processes and results, the standards for your users are higher.

No matter what kind of software you’re using, you need to get your teams to a point where they’re confident, comfortable – and producing results without errors on a daily basis.

The right training takes planning and preparation – and it’s one of the most important parts of bringing a new piece of software into your business.

So we’ve put together 7 crucial questions you need to answer before you put your training plan in place.

Ready? Let’s start with an easy one:

1. How many of your staff need training with the new software?

This one’s a no-brainer – but the key word here is ‘need’.

In an ideal world, every person working in your company would have mastered your inventory and accounting software.

But when it comes down to the reality of training – time, money, and results – you won’t always need every person to be fully trained in everything before you can start to make progress with a new system.

Most companies will naturally follow a ‘Just in Case’ approach: making sure everyone knows everything about the software before they start putting it into practice.

But we like to recommend a ‘Just in Time’ training approach:

Instead of spending huge amounts of time on the initial training – overwhelming your learners and teaching them advanced processes they don’t really need – you can give your learners just enough training to get your new system going and working without errors.

(And you can worry about the more advanced stuff later!)

2. How similar are the different roles in your company?

In most cases, it’s easy to separate your staff into different groups for different training. Your warehouse workers need to learn about your inventory software, and your accounting teams need to learn about your accounting software.

But in some cases, there’s an overlap. There’s a crossover between different roles – like a warehouse manager who needs to use both inventory software and third-party logistics (3PL) software on a daily basis.

(Or if you’re a smaller company, your staff might wear different hats at different times, filling in for each other’s roles as they go.)

So when you’re planning your training, it’s important not to obsess over job titles and departments – look for the real-world tasks and responsibilities that each person has within each of your teams.

3. How does your old software compare to the new one?

If you’ve ever made the switch from a Windows PC to an Apple one, you’ll remember how jarring things can seem at first – despite the fact that the two systems are constantly borrowing ideas from each other.

And when it comes to switching between two software systems, things can be even more disorienting for your learners.

If you’re doing a straight upgrade – like moving from Sage 200 to Sage Cloud – your staff probably won’t need as much training. They’ll be familiar with the layout, the names of the functions, and how to navigate to the places they want to be.

But if you’re making a clean break from one developer to another (like switching from Sage to Xero), you should expect a steeper learning curve in the beginning – and you’ll need to be ready to dedicate a little more time and training before your staff can feel comfortable.

4. How capable are your employees when it comes to using software?

This isn’t an easy question to answer – and the bigger your teams are, the harder it is to have a close understanding of each person’s abilities.

So let’s take a look at the two extremes:

One member of your team is always glued to their smartphone. They type at lightning speed, they live on social media – and they’re always talking about the latest apps and online sites.

Another member of your team doesn’t have a computer at home. They take all their notes by hand, they rarely use the internet, and their smartphone never seems to leave their pocket or their bag.

If you’ve got a business that’s full of the first type, they might only need minimal training to get started with a new system. But if your teams are mostly full of the second type, they’ll probably need a little extra help and time before they feel confident and proficient with something new

5. How hands-on does your training have to be?

In general, there are two schools of thought when it comes to training your staff – and finding the right balance between the two extremes can make a huge difference to the costs and time you need to bring your people up to speed.

On one end of the scale, there’s the self-learning approach. You can set your teams up with a trial account of the new software, point them to a library of online guides and resources, and let them play with the new system and learn through experimentation.

On the other end of the scale, there’s the show-and-tell approach. You can guide your learners through structured sessions, demonstrating the new software and walking them through every new stage as they come to it.

The self-learning approach is fantastic for smaller companies without a training budget – or businesses who don’t have the resources to assign a dedicated trainer for days or weeks at a time.

But it won’t always get you the best results.

When your staff teach themselves how to use a new piece of software, they’re bound to hit roadblocks. They often learn slowly and create bad habits – and they won’t always find the most efficient ways to get the results they need.

So if you’re training a team of more than three people (or you really need to get your new software up and running as soon as possible) we’d always recommend that you take a more involved and hands-on approach to your training.

6. What’s the best way to group your learners?

We’ve helped all kinds of businesses to prepare and deliver their software training.

And in our experience, the best training results come from small, focused, and relevant groups of learners.

And in our experience, the best training results come from small, focused, and relevant groups of learners.

So no matter how many people and departments you need to train, you should always divide your groups by:

  • Size (ideally, no more than 5 people per group)
  • Role (so people are only learning what’s relevant to them)
  • Department (so each team is learning with the same people they’ll be working with)

7. Which of your processes need to change?

Before you can start to train anyone (and before you can even start to plan the sessions), you’ll need to get a high-level understanding of how your new software will fit into the processes your business follows.

We call this the ‘Process Adaptation Workshop’ – a dedicated session where you can map out the new processes you’ll need, and see exactly how your different teams will need to change and adapt the way they work once your new software system goes live.

If you’re not sure where to start, an app like Skore can be a huge help. You can plan and map the processes you need to change, and get the deep analysis tools you need to track your progress and make sure everyone’s on the same page.

Ready to start bringing your teams up to speed?

Getting your staff ready for a whole new system is never easy. And the bigger you company, the more complicated things get.

So if you’re looking for a little extra help with your training (or a team of seasoned experts who can take on the whole job) – give us a shout or book a free call, and we’ll help you get up and running with your new software as quickly as possible.

Not sure where to start?

Take a look at our Free Pre-Training Checklist – with all the steps you need to take to plan and prepare for the training ahead

Click here to download the PDF version of ‘Training Your Staff to Use New Software? Here Are 7 Questions You Need To Ask’

Think You’re Ready To Train? Here’s the Pre-Training Checklist You Need to Get Started

Getting an Idea of What You Need:

  • Have you mapped out your current business processes in Skore?
  • Have you worked through your processes to see which ones need adapting?
  • Do you know how many people you’ll need to train?
  • Do you know which of your staff will need more time than usual?
  • Have you identified any overlap between your teams’ different roles?
  • Have you compared your old system to your new one?

Choosing the Right Approach:

  • Have you decided whether you’ll focus on self-learning, or ‘show and tell’ training?
  • Have you set a limit for the size of your training groups?
  • Are your groups assigned to keep teams and similar roles together?
  • Do you know the minimum amount of training you’ll need to go live? (‘Just in Time’)

Getting Ready to Train:

  • Have you assigned a team leader to track and monitor the progress of each team?
  • Do you know the KPIs you intend to measure?
  • Have you set a target for when you’ll complete the training – and the key milestones you need to hit?

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