If you’re debating the best ways to train employees on a new software rollout, there’s good news: You’re already ahead of the curve.
For many organizations, post-deployment training is an afterthought. But for a rollout to be successful, training the end users needs to be a parallel process. Today, there are options, including custom modules, microlearning, and project-based LMS installs, that allow you to deliver tailored, timely and task-oriented learning content. But the training still needs to be carefully planned to ensure optimal results.
To ensure a streamlined rollout with minimal confusion and loss of productivity, it’s important to understand learning Modalities, embrace Microlearning, Market your new tools and processes, and Maintain the system and knowledge base. These “Four Ms” will make a big difference in the speed and success of your new software rollout.
The first thing to consider in building a learner-centric strategy is modality. Employees require different approaches in order to learn how to be proficient with new software. Depending on your organization’s demographics and prior training methodology, the right approach could be a combination of visual, auditory, tactile or experiential learning.
Next, consider the technology learners will use to consume the training. It might include desktop or laptop PCs, tablets or smartphones. Don’t forget to include the tried-and-true methods of instructor-led training (ILT) and on-the-job training (OJT) as well. Tailoring a strategy to include multiple learning modalities will help your employees learn the new material to the best of their ability.
Microlearning breaks courses or modules into smaller, searchable units or activities with a specific learning outcome. This process enables learners to consume complex software programs in bursts and at their own pace while also providing a tool for reinforcement when a task is forgotten.
You’ve probably used YouTube for a quick tutorial on an at-home repair or a tricky Excel function. Rather than sit through a day-long course on basic home wiring or advanced Excel features, you can use a short video with screenshots and step-by-step instructions that help you install a new doorbell or use pivot tables. In a learner-centric program, this methodology promotes a culture where the learner is in complete control of how much they decide to consume, based on how much they feel they can retain at that moment.
While it’s often forgotten, marketing is a crucial component of successful software rollouts. Leaders decided that the new software would be beneficial to the organization, so share that story with employees. Marketing becomes even more crucial when it’s not just an upgrade but a switch to a completely new system.
Employees will always ask, “What’s in it for me?” when trying to prioritize their time between completing their daily tasks and completing training activities. Answering this question is especially crucial when ILT isn’t part of the overall solution. If employees feel like they’re part of the solution and their needs were taken into consideration, they are much more likely to give their best effort. It’s vital to communicate clearly why the new rollout and the training that comes with it are so important. Enlisting multiple department heads to provide input adds credibility.
Proactive maintenance and support of the new software closes the loop on a successful rollout. Having the support of IT during rollout guarantees that appropriate levels of knowledgeable staff are available during the crucial first few weeks. Including your training staff, who are competent with the new software, as additional resources is also beneficial during this change management period.
Operating under the assumption that you can’t always retain everything you learn, a self-service knowledge base is also a great tool for employees to refresh their skills. This base is where those microlearning assets come into play; learners can access them on demand to stay productive without requiring external assistance. The knowledge base will decrease the number of calls to your help desk, allowing service agents to handle more complex questions.
Planning a training program in parallel with the entire rollout schedule helps ensure a smooth transition for end users and limits interruptions to productivity. Keep the “Four Ms” in mind as you form your strategy, and you’ll find that rollouts can be less disruptive and more beneficial to your key strategies than they may have been in the past.