You just bought a brand new software, now what? Or maybe, you bought that software five years ago, and you still have no idea what you are doing, but you are finally ready to actually use it. Sound familiar?
Chances are, the company you bought it from has a prescribed training plan and options, but which one do you pick? Most companies choose based on budget, but that’s not always the best solution. Not all training methods work for everyone. Learning styles, past experiences, time management, workload, and more, can determine what will work best.
Let’s look at the most common training methods:
I mean, after this past year, I think everyone is over it, but honestly, it’s probably the most valuable tool that has kept our businesses moving forward. It’s a great way to fit smaller sessions into your workday. It’s time-efficient and gives you access to people you usually would not have.
What to watch for: It’s easy to cancel sessions. “Next week, I’m too busy this week.” Guess what? You are going to be busy next week too. Don’t get caught in the trap; make the time. Also, some companies will charge you for cancelled sessions.
Heading onsite to a shop is my favorite way of working with a client. It gives a trainer total exposure to how the shop runs; to physically see how they work, you can identify issues and offer valuable suggestions. Communication online can be challenging; this way, you are face to face and can eliminate misinterpretation.
What to watch for: You need to block off time for your staff to learn. Ensure everyone knows who is in training and for how long, so they interrupt them as little as possible.
Self Directed Learning
This is the most cost-effective method – at least on paper. There are tons of free learning tools online, but I find it the most difficult method if it is your only method. It’s great for a refresher or if you want to expand your learning in one area. With this method, you want to know your learning style.
What to watch for: Without direction, or a solid training plan, it tends to fall off the rails leaving the user frustrated, which costs time and money. Hours could be wasted trying to figure something out; that could be a quick question and answer to a trainer.
Michele’s Perfect Training Plan
In a perfect world, I believe the best training plan is a blend of methods, with a twist.
The twist is throwing in what I call Project Work: working with a professional to build your software for you, based on your needs. I can’t take my 12+ years of experience and teach it to you in a week. A professional is faster and doesn’t have the interruptions you have. They also have the benefit of having seen hundreds of different setups and will be able to foresee issues and make suggestions.
Having someone build the bulk of the work for you means when you start learning the software, it looks like your business, with your language. The reality is, our industry is booming, and we have a shortage of staff. Do you have time to have one of your employees step away from the day-to-day to set up and learn the software?
While each client and software will have specific needs, this is what I feel is the magic formula:
- Project work: Have a professional build the bulk of the work for you. Discuss with them what that might look like. They will be faster, so this can speed up a timeline.
- 3-5 days onsite training: Sometimes, this is beneficial before your trainer starts the project work. And sometimes they are two different people.
- Online follow-up sessions: Onsite training can be like drinking from a firehose. It’s exhausting and it’s impossible to retain all the information. Scheduling follow-up sessions is a must. Even if it’s only a 30-minute check-in.
- Repeat Training 1 year later: You will fall into habits. “That’s the way I’ve always done it” is like death to your growth. Revisiting the training can be a great refresher or a great way to expand on the current skills. You’ve had a year’s worth of practice; you are ready to level up.
Fun Fact: There are government programs designed to help manufacturing businesses get more training for their employees. Check with your local government organizations to see what’s available.
- Play the long game. Start with basics and build the knowledge as you go. Experts weren’t created in a 2-hour training session.
- Ask for one dedicated trainer, build a relationship with them, they’ll get to know your business. If it’s not possible, ask them to take good notes to leave for the next trainer. Also, you’ll learn different things from different people.
- Keep a question/idea notebook with only software-related info. Easy access for when you get a trainer on the phone after a busy day, and you forget what you wanted to review.
- Is this the right person to be involved with the training? What is this person’s position in the company, and does this meet the expectations for their position.
You’ve invested good money in your software, so investing in training is the next step to maximize the potential. Plan for it!
Michele Hoy is the owner-operator of Clear Build Solutions.