Your company just spent millions on new conference rooms throughout the campus and in other office locations, and now you want to maximize that investment and push employees to make use of these systems.
However, your internal IT team might not be experts in conferencing technology, and end users haven’t been thoroughly trained. That leads to headaches and constant support calls that don’t rise to the level of a support call.
If end users don’t know how to use the equipment, that investment is effectively wasted and the conference rooms become zombie meeting rooms. The same is true for virtually any piece of technology your IT team brings to the enterprise, whether it be hardware or software.
IT professionals can only do so much training themselves, but if they themselves aren’t experts on the technology being implemented, you still aren’t maximizing your ROI.
That’s why IT departments need to work with technology vendors of all shapes and sizes to help train end users and get the most out of these costly investments, says Mark Geary, managing director of Rally Point Consulting.
Your technology vendors should be your end user training partners
Vendors like manufacturers and integrators – especially if they’re older companies that have been in business for a while – should be trusted partners upon which your IT teams can lean for expertise and advice.
That means constant communication about your firm’s business plans and where technology providers fit into those plans. If those business needs necessitate new technology, that relationship should provider for some form of end user training.
Depending on the size of your business, your human resources department would include that training in with your firm’s learning program.
“They will get with the vendors, they will get all the training, they’ll put if they have an LMS, like a learning management system, they’ll put it on the LMS,” Geary says.
Regardless of how that training is delivered, customers should bring up training when discussing service and installation contracts, Geary added.
However, technology providers will issue that training in a variety of ways. Some will even outsource the training to a third party, while most will provide some kind of online resources like videos, manuals, FAQs and other materials.
You still need internal champions
Technology providers want your organization to be happy with the investment it made, and your organization wants to maximize that investment. That means both the customer and vendor have to work together to achieve those goals.
One way of doing that is designating internal champions in your organization who will be responsible for absorbing the training from vendors like manufacturers and integrators and disseminating that information to lower-level IT teams and end users.
Those internal champions can help spread the vendor’s message about what the technology can do for them to the most granular level, so employees buy in to the new way of doing things.
“Somebody internally has to be the internal champion that says, ‘The end users have to do this,’” Geary says.
Those champions could be vice presidents or divisions, managers or IT staff, as long as they are in a leadership position and can be an effective change agent acting on behalf of the vendor.
Getting more engagement from technology providers
According to Geary, organizations can get more interest and engagement when it comes to end user training when your intended use of a piece of technology is actually new to the provider.
Simple tasks like creating an account, singing on, adding a new address and usability functions should be delegated to online learning.
“So that’s when you’re going to get a lot more interest from a vendor when you’re pushing them out of their comfort zone, or making their product better,” Geary says. “They’ll engage more it’s in their best interest.”
A one-size-fits-all approach to end user training may not work in a large organization with a variety of positions in different departments. The person delivering that training should understand how their audience thinks about technology and deliver the training in a way that makes sense to them.
For example, the training for a customer relationship management platform intended for salespeople should be delivered by a salesperson.
End users that aren’t in IT positions don’t need to be trained by technology experts, Geary says.
“It’s not typically tech guys,” Geary says. “It’s people that understand human behavior.”
Virtual end user training is always more efficient
In most cases, your technology partners will provide training via online resources. If the vendor is large enough, they’ll have a customer care team and support staff that can provide training as needed.
In rare cases, technology providers may even come on site to deliver in-person training. This can be to the entire staff or a select few internal champions that would propagate that knowledge to the rest of the team.
“The problem is, that’s expensive,” Geary says. “They don’t give that away.”
On-site training from technology vendors is becoming more rare, and the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t even the catalyst.
Bringing in a technology evangelist from one of your partners isn’t even the most efficient way to train end users since it takes up valuable time and pulls your employees away from their workstation.
“On-site training is becoming more and more rare,” Geary says. “Not just because of COVID, but just because of the capabilities of conferencing. It’s the capabilities of being able to show what you’re training on your system itself.”