Software Training: Do We Need it? Who Should Provide it?
You just invested in updating your hardware and software, now you are being told you should spend more money on training. Can’t your staff just figure out how to use the programs? Isn’t the software user friendly? Do we really need to invest in training with a software consultant?
If your system is kept current, and the staff is particularly tech savvy, likes to read documentation or really has time to figure things out, then a new software version may not be a big deal. However, if you are updating a system that is several years old (even 3 years old) or you hire a staff member that is unfamiliar with the system, some professional training could be a big savings of time, money and frustration!
If you are purchasing new software, training is usually beneficial. Even if you suffer from insomnia and love to read manuals, the manuals don’t know your operation and can’t focus on your specific needs. Tips and tricks that can save time are often not included in a user’s manual.
Peer-to-peer training for new hires may seem like an attractive option for the business to save money. First you must decide how well the user really knows the system. Often people have “figured it out” but don’t know the most efficient way to do the work. If this user provides the training, you may be perpetuating the “this is the way we have always done it”, rather than learning new efficiencies. Also take into consideration what duties your current employee will have to ignore or postpone while they train the new employee. Existing employees may resent having the additional, unrewarded, responsibility of training a new hire. Sometimes “just one more thing” to the boss is “JUST ONE MORE THING” to a harried assistant. Even an employee who knows the program well, and is willing to train someone may not be the best person to provide training. There’s a difference between doing and teaching. For the new person to get the best start with the program, it is important to have someone who knows how to train not just how you do it.
If the employee who did the job previously is leaving your company, the training may be rushed and your new hire may be left without someone who can address ongoing questions. Your departing employee might have more on their mind than the nuances of exactly how your software is used, and may skip over seemingly unimportant functions and processes. Again, if their own training was neglected, they may not even know how to use the programs as efficiently as possible and can inadvertently pass on bad habits to the new hire.
Professional training on new software can help your staff get quickly started working efficiently and effectively. A good trainer will know multiple ways to present the material to help each user learn. Training can be provided one-on-one, customized for your group or as part of a bigger group, depending on your needs. While on the surface a class may seem less expensive, training for you specifically will be focused on your needs and learning style, and may provide a higher benefit for the cost with less wasted time.
With a new version of software, as little as one hour of training time can give your staff a sense of security in using a software that looks different than what they were used to. Training can make your staff aware of new features or streamlined processes to perform tasks and give tips and tricks for short cuts and efficient use of information.
Training can provide the tools to work effectively, accurately, and efficiently and may help with improved habits. User questions can be addressed in a group setting so that information is shared, potentially reducing the chance for increased consulting fees due to different employees calling with the same questions.
Prior to a training appointment with Time & Cents Consultants, LLC., we ask our clients to submit a list of questions or areas on which they would like to concentrate, and features they use frequently, so that we can tailor the session to client needs and maximize the value of the time spent. For instance; if we know beforehand that a staff member is bringing “invoice layout customization” to a session as a question, we can arrange to get the layout customized prior to the session so that all employees can see it, be aware of any changes in appearance, and be trained on any new steps to use it.
Your software consultant uses the systems they work with and has experience with the software in many environments. In addition, consultants network with each other, host, monitor or sponsor web boards associated with your software, and attend conferences, web based presentations and classes each year. Your consultant is a great source for tips and tricks on shortcuts and easy procedures that allow your staff to better utilize your systems, streamline information and processes and increase productivity.
Penny Wise and Pound Foolish
Clients sometimes refuse training on the basis that it’s “too expensive” or “takes up too much time” for the administrators in the office.
Let’s think about that… For a client that is new to a software program, we might recommend about 2 hours of training. In the case of a billing management system, we also recommend a short conversation or review to answer any questions prior to or during the first billing process with the new software.
Say that results in 3 hours of Consultant fees and an administrative staff that has a good grip on your software program. Errors will be reduced, data will be more accurate and your billing process will be more timely. In other words: you get your money faster and your staff is able to attend to their other responsibilities promptly.
Now, let’s consider that “Time Really is Money”: How many Admins do you have in your office? How much do you pay them? Add it up to an hourly cost. How much of their time and your money are you willing to sacrifice by letting your staff “figure it out”?
An untrained staff may be able to get the billing out eventually, but is this why you invested in the current software? Or was your aim to streamline the billing process in order to reduce the time it takes while improving accuracy and get it out on time? Are you having to do things again, or manually because you didn’t anticipate reports you might need when setting up the system?
Think about it – then give us a call! We’re always happy to schedule remote or onsite training. We can do an Introductory training for those users new to a product, a detailed training for staff who use particular features regularly, or a refresher or update training for the users who want to brush up on their skills or learn to use new features effectively.