We have a very user-centric philosophy at RibbonFish – which is why we focus so hard on the usability of our solutions. But even the simplest of applications will require enterprise users to be comprehensively trained.
The key is to make this process as simple as possible.
One thing that characterises our approach to solutions is that we keep the users involved throughout the process. For us, this is a key element of IT consulting.
The hardest thing about training users is getting them familiar with something completely new. If the application is alien to them, it will take much longer to complete training and maximise the potential of the new system. But if the users have a sense of familiarity, even so ‘trivial’ as to have witnessed the basics of the user interface, it makes things much easier.
Depending on the wishes of our client, we like to involve the users through the development process. Whilst remaining sensitive about exposing users to the unfinished article, in the long run, we believe that it is helpful to keep them familiar with the feel of the application.
I mentioned remaining sensitive because in taking this approach, developers need to be aware that an unfinished application may alarm some people.
But by involving key users (e.g. individuals in management positions), you not only familiarise them with the development, but you may attain valuable user feedback along the way. Flagging-up issues early is far more efficient than waiting until user-testing or soft-launch, so being open to this feedback will hopefully reduce the chance of missing a launch deadline due to last minute issues.
Whether it is a CRM, project management or sales forecasting development, holding monthly / bi-monthly meetings or demonstrations to a select group of key users is a superb method of familiarising them with the application. Users are much more adaptable to a new system if they have a rough idea what to expect, rather than if the finished article is dumped on their laps unexpectedly.
Training will always be required, and will always be important in order to maximise the potential of a new business application – but it can be a much smoother process if the consultation and development process establishes an experience and familiarity to the product among the prospective users.
What are your ideas about user training? Please share your experiences with business applications training below.