The ART of delivering software education

According to IDC research, 80 percent of IT managers believe effective training is critical to the success of IT. But as Susan Merriman, Worldwide Lead, Emerging Technologies HP Software Education explains, a lack of effective education is still a major cause in software failing to deliver its expected value. In this blog post, she discusses why there’s a gap between the perceptions of education’s importance and how it is delivered. And she reveals how HP is working to make it much easier, and cost-efficient to create effective enablement programmes.  

 

The education disconnect

With enterprise software underpinning every facet of business, ensuring it delivers the intended value is essential to efficient operations.

 

But technology can be complex to deploy and if things don’t go according to plan, the business performance can suffer. We are often called in to look at failing projects, to see what’s gone wrong. Usually the deployment has progressed according to plan. So, if there are no obvious problems with the software, what’s causing the problems? In a significant number of cases, the answer is education.

 

While many businesses acknowledge that education is essential, they recognize that delivering effective education is challenging. So much so, that HP research found that 38 percent of software is underused or not used at all[1], with a lack of training a root cause of this ‘shelfware.’

 

So why is a belief in education failing to result in effective enablement programmes?

 

The challenge of delivering effective enablement

We see three main reasons as to why training can be ineffective:

  • Business support: Managers are often reluctant to free people to attend training. There’s also a growing complacency around the need for training. Because everybody is more IT literate today, there’s an assumption that users will learn on the job. Consequently, if budgets come under pressure, training is often cut. However, enterprise software is not the same as consumer applications. And while great strides are being made to make software more intuitive, training is still imperative if people are to get the most from it.
  • Up-front training: Typically companies invest in training at the start of projects. Unfortunately, people often quickly forget what they learn in one-off training and issues arise when they start using the software. In addition, one-off training tends to be generic. But people’s interaction with the software varies according to their job and enablement needs to be tailored to end users’ specific roles. Furthermore, organizations are dynamic. There’s a continuous flow of new joiners while other people move to new roles or leave the business. Consequently, over time, even with the best up-front training programmes, competency in the software dilutes. In turn, its value is compromised.
  • Single-format training: Where companiesdo offer a continuously available training resource – usually a learning portal with a range of content – it’s often not updated as software changes. In addition it can fail to support the wide range of learning styles that exist within a typical team. The problem is that if enablement is not relevant or fails to engage people its impact will be severely negated.

 

There’s another important issue at play which explains many of the above problems. To date, companies have lacked a simple, cost-effective solution to develop effective enablement programs. In short, delivering enablement is far easier said than done.

 

New thinking is needed

Creating engaging IT training courses is demanding for several reasons:

  • Diverse training needs: Training materials must be easy to access by all staff and be tailored to support the different ways in which people learn.
  • Limited resources: Creating training manuals, courses and tutorials requires people who are expert in the software. These experts are more often than not among the best IT resources that the business has, so they often get pulled elsewhere.  This can delay the preparation of enablement programmes.
  • Complex software: Enterprise software can have thousands of features – all of which need to be captured and simply articulated by the training materials.
  • Keeping up: As new software releases are deployed or workflow processes are modified, all training content and documentation and support needs to be altered too.  

 

Developing training materials can be time-consuming and expensive. This is even more so the case especially with multinational organizations that are faced with training large numbers of users in multiple languages. For some time we’ve been looking at how to help companies more easily create more effective enablement programmes. Our answer is HP’s Adoption Readiness Tool (HP ART).

 

HP ART

ART is a single-source development platform for the creation of simulation-based enablement courses, documentation and performance support content.

 

ART comes out of the box with content built by HP’s subject matter experts. Enablement programs can be launched immediately, saving you a huge amount of time. The programs can also be easily customized to your software’s unique profile, using ART’s authoring tool, and it is automatically translated into 30 languages for an organization-wide enablement program. The tool can also be used to create enablement programs from scratch.

 

 

 

In addition, ART enables the rapid production of job aids and simulations. This feature is ideally suited to addressing the particular problems identified by calls to the help desk. Now any features preventing full productivity are rapidly addressed while helping to reduce support calls.

 

Additional efficiencies are gained from ART’s publishing options. Learning support content can be output to a wide range of documents including:

  • Business process manuals
  • eLearning and classroom course material
  • Test scripts
  • Hands-on practice simulations
  • Job aids and more

All documents can be quickly republished every time a process is changed.

 

The key to ART is that users can access enablement anytime, anywhere online, and the range of content available supports different learning styles. For instance, people can elect to take full training, select relevant modules or quickly refer to bite-sized job guides to help them overcome specific problems fast. Allowing teams to access versatile training at convenient times overcomes any reluctance within the business to allow people to spend time learning.  

 

Overcoming training hurdles

We’ve made progress in providing education and IT teams with the efficient solution – a solution that has been a long time coming – to produce engaging enablement programs. These programs address a fundamental issue: the fact that your software is only as good as the people using it. By delivering effective enablement programs, your people will gain competency up to four-times faster, your project risk will be reduced, and you will be more likely to achieve the business outcomes that first motivated your software deployments.   



 

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