Systems training programs can quickly spiral out of control if you don’t plan and execute them systematically. This article takes a deep look at systems training from an expert’s viewpoint to help you stay on top of the game.
In this article, we will discuss:
Keeping your employees updated on the latest enterprise software is not as simple a task as it might appear. If not approached with absolute clarity and meticulous planning, it can turn into chaos. And the bottom line bears the brunt. This article takes a closer look at the planning as well as the execution aspects of a successful systems training program along with a few pro tactics to steer clear of the common pitfalls. We will give you practical points for running successful systems training programs so that you can reap maximum value from your technology investments.
We spoke to our expert, Angela Mager, a Principal Consultant at Assima, to uncover the winning tactics as well as the slippery slopes of systems training. You can use these directions to make your systems training efforts a resounding success – every time. She shared practical tips and tricks based on her 17+ years of experience in the industry that you can start using today to improve your systems training outcomes.
Important Prerequisites – The Foundation
Begin With The End In Mind
Without a clear vision, anything you do is already on the road to failure. And systems training is no different. As a business leader, you will have to develop a crystal clear picture of what exactly the outcome looks like. You need a clear set of training requirements. That’ll enable you to stay focused on your desired results despite all the hurdles along the path.
Show a Strong Commitment
With clear outcomes in mind, you now have to commit. Your people will sense your commitment from your actions and they will take this venture seriously too. A slight hint of being casually committed to your systems training program will result in non-seriousness from others.
In the Big Picture
There are several myths about what systems training is or isn’t. So let’s have a look at the big picture for further clarity.
Angela told us that systems training needs to be viewed as part of a whole. And the whole is your systems implementation project. Software implementations are strategic decisions by organizations to meet a set of specific business outcomes (operational efficiency, process changes, standardization, customer success, etc.)
In short, systems training is a means to reach some predefined business needs. The figure below is a graphical representation to keep you reminded of what it actually is:
What Systems Training Isn’t
Before diving deeper into the subject, we find it best to state what systems training is not – but assumed to be.
Systems training isn’t an isolated activity – It isn’t a standalone training event that ends when it ends. It emerges from a business need or goal and must be sustained and continuously improved.
Systems training isn’t an end in itself – It is simply a vehicle to get somewhere. Systems training results will be lackluster if the destination isn’t clear.
Systems training isn’t only about systems or training – It’s about people and the culture of your organization too. Your people and their idiosyncrasies should not be ignored.
Systems training isn’t a magic lamp – It has the potential to train your employees on the use of certain software. That’s it. Don’t rub it for miracles that it isn’t made for.
Systems training isn’t soft skills training – Training can often be diluted into an exercise without accountability and quantifiable objectives. Systems training is different. It has concrete achievables and learning results are visible right away.
Systems training isn’t optional – It’s an absolute necessity if you want your massive technology investment to not become a sunk cost.
What Is Systems Training Really About?
Systems training is about CREATING NEW HABITS
In his bestseller, The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg talks about a hack to make new or break old habits. He asks the readers to visualize their habit loops to identify habits (routine), what are the triggers (cues) and reward themselves for completing said routine.
Such frameworks can be used to dissect the habit loop of your employees to make them unlearn the old ways and relearn the new ones. This is what systems training is about. Creating the path for new ways of doing things more efficiently.
“Our lives are governed by habits. Brushing your teeth, checking your phone — we perform these actions on autopilot. They are ingrained through repetition until they become second nature. Just like people are the sum of their habits, so are businesses.”
Riz Khaliq, CEO at Assima
Systems training is about DELIGHTING CUSTOMERS
The term ‘Customer Experience’ (CX) is the new customer service rave. Businesses are zeroing in on activities that can delight their customers. Creatives are coming up with ideas for innovative CX projects. But isn’t it wiser to realign your core activities and optimize your customer’s experience through them first? One such activity is your systems training.
Delighting your customers should be a core objective of any new software implementation project. The ultimate goal should be to serve your customers in a faster, better, and more personalized manner.
According to Hotjar, long wait or response time is a leading cause of bad customer experience.
Image source: https://www.hotjar.com/customer-experience/
You can avoid this top killer of customer experience by training your employees on the latest technologies aimed at speeding up response time.
Systems training is about MAXIMIZING the return on your technology investments
The latest estimates by Gartner suggest that enterprise software spend will grow by 8.8% in 2021 for a total of over half a trillion dollars USD worldwide – outpacing all other IT investment categories. Reasons cited include acceleration of digitalization to support a remote workforce, virtual services such as distance learning or telehealth, etc.
The trend that was set in motion post-Covid of deploying new technologies or scaling up existing tools at breakneck speed isn’t stopping. And for all that investment to bear fruit, you need systems training.
That’s because when it comes to enterprise software, humans are ultimately in the driver’s seat. The people operating your latest and greatest tech are fallible, they forget and they need practice before mastering new ways of working.
In our experience dealing with Fortune 1000 companies across all industries, we’ve noted a recurring theme: organizations underestimate the complexity of their business processes and overestimate people’s ability to retain information without proper training – on top of how user-friendly enterprise applications are. As a result, their users can’t perform adequately, they forget basic procedures, make mistakes, and waste time.
By empowering your workforce with the know-how to use your solutions correctly on day one, systems training is what sets apart a software-money-pit (poor end-user adoption, costly mistakes, help desk calls constantly on speed dial for questions) and a software implementation that drives business outcomes (boosted employee productivity, increased customer satisfaction, growing revenue).
Note: These outcomes can also include soft benefits like general employee happiness. Although not part of your typical ROI calculations, it can be assessed by surveys, it grants a lot of compounding benefits, and it’s something that business leaders do take into account.
Top 5 Pitfalls To Avoid
There is no need to reinvent the systems training wheel. We have a list of the most common mistakes that are usually repeated by businesses during the planning, development, and implementation phases of a systems training program. You can use this knowledge to set off on the right track and increase your chances of success.
Some businesses attach unrealistic expectations from their systems training programs. And when reality hits, disappointment is natural. You need to be very clear that the only job for systems training is to train your people on specific software. Nothing more, nothing less. It won’t solve any of your organizational or cultural issues. Those issues can hamper the success rate of your systems training efforts.
Clarity of vision, as we said earlier, is the very first step. Businesses that jump straight into the execution phase without having a clear vision often go astray because there’s no destination in sight. A concise vision document at hand will keep reminding you what exactly you are pursuing.
Lack of Planning
We’ve seen businesses making spur-of-the-moment decisions and regretting them later. They don’t understand that a fraction of the total time spent in planning can be a lifesaver later down the road.
Planning your systems training efforts will add more clarity to the entire process and serve as the reference guide in times of trouble.
If you haven’t set a clear priority for your systems training project, you are bound to hit obstacles on the way.
Angela shared an example where she was helping a large organization with their systems training project. During the implementation phase, whenever the employees ran into an IT issue, they had to open a ticket with the IT team. But since the IT team wasn’t briefed from the top about the priority of this project, they treated it as a routine request and took the usual time to resolve open tickets. This resulted in compromising the overall success of the training. If this project was prioritized in advance, systems training-related tickets could’ve been solved immediately to keep the project running smoothly.
Inadequate Resource Allocation
Even the smallest of tasks cannot be done without proper resources. But we regularly see businesses venture into systems training without a proper budget. Without sufficient resources, hiccups are natural. For example, systems training programs often suffer from a lack of sufficient time. Remember that your employees have to go through the training and perform their routine tasks in the same amount of time at work. Their learning suffers when they are forced to squeeze both activities into the same number of hours at work. Other resources include funds, equipment, and continuous support.
What Does a Successful Systems Training Look Like
Salient features of a successful systems training program
An expert can spot a well-planned systems training project from miles away. Let’s see how a successful one looks like and what are the early signs of success. Here are the essential elements of a successful systems training project:
Top Management Shows Commitment
It is vehemently backed by the top management. This commitment gives a message to the entire organization that this is something important. People then pay attention and keep it pinned on top of their priority lists.
Communication is Clear
The communication channels are swift and noise-free, which act as a lubricant in a successful systems training project. The people responsible for the creation of training lessons need to respond immediately to the end-users needs. The procedure to communicate feedback and demands needs to be well defined, without any unnecessary layers in between. You have to explain to everyone who the target audience is and what they are going to need this specific knowledge for.
Every Role & Expectation is well-defined
All the whos and whats are well-defined.
Angela highlighted the importance of clearly defining the responsibilities and expectations of every single member of the implementation project:
“Who will do what is an important question that should be asked at the start and the answers should be documented if you want your project to achieve the targets.”
It’s Run by a Motivated Team of Experts
Motivated and adequately skilled people make up a successful systems training team. They have a strong sense of responsibility and don’t wait for instructions to perform their tasks. Such people are a vital element and no project can succeed without their proactivity paired with sound technical expertise.
There is a Robust Infrastructure in Place
The infrastructure adequately fulfills the technical requirements of successfully running a systems training program.
Anglea mentioned an example where a client wanted to implement a system that required rapid communication and continuous exchange of messages and screenshots. During the systems training implementation, they experienced unusual lags. Upon investigation, the culprit was found out to be their internal system’s extra layers of security. A thorough audit of the infrastructure in the light of the new system’s requirements ensured smooth sailing during the implementation.
5 time-tested strategies to Run a Successful Systems Training Program
The tips we’ve arranged for you in this section are not our philosophical musings. We’ve picked Anglea’s brain for that. She’s an expert who has spent years implementing systems training projects for industry leaders.
Here are the hands-on strategies that you can put to good use to achieve your business goals:
#1: Prioritize within your organization
There’s always a lot going on in every organization. Management teams need to prioritize their systems training initiatives to make them a success. It’s also very important that this prioritization is communicated to everyone in the organization.
“Organizations that have a higher success ratio have their top executives repeatedly hammer the importance of systems training into people’s heads. It can be through dedicated memos, formal announcements, or a mention in events and meetings. I see them mentioning their ongoing systems training at every possible opportunity”
Angela Mager, Principal Consultant at Assima
This exercise makes it a priority for the people as well and they start taking it seriously. Another indication of prioritization is when resources are demanded by the systems training team, the management team listens to them and makes arrangements to meet their needs.
#2: Get internal buy-in
After priorities are clear and management has endorsed them, the next step should be to get buy-in at all levels from all stakeholders: end-users, partners, SMEs, line managers, IT, and management. . Don’t underestimate the power of internal resistance.
To get everyone on board, open all communication channels and listen to everyone very carefully. Once you identify the people who have any apprehension about this program, engage them in a dialog and respond to their questions.
#3: Clear out the roles on both sides
There are external people involved in systems training projects including the consultants and vendors working on the implementation. According to Angela, half of your work is already done if you chart out the roles from the outset.
It becomes very hard for the outside parties to coordinate and do their job when they don’t know who is doing what and whom to call for issues. Figuring it out takes time leading to problems at every level.
Before the project gets rolling, ask for a roles list with names, positions, and contact numbers from the external partners. And provide them with the same information from your side.
#4: Arrange dedicated IT support
IT is your key player in this game. Involve them from the very first step. Listen to their opinion because they are the ones getting the first call whenever there’s an issue. According to Angela,
“Any call for systems training-related help should never be just another ticket for your IT, waiting for its turn in the long cue of requests. It needs to be resolved in real-time. The training can’t wait that long.”
Empower your IT so that they don’t go running for someone’s approval for trivial issues. Also, invite them to your important meetings where decisions are being made. It’ll pay you off during the implementation phase.
#5: Take a closer look at your IT infrastructure
A mismatch between your IT architecture and the systems training tool can seriously hamper your success. Angela told us that she frequently sees instances where systems training demands clash with the IT infrastructure. As we saw in a previous example, an implementation project where there were extra security measures in a system that were causing long hold-ups. Such conflicts are avoidable and need some planning at the start.
That’s why Angela recommends a detailed review of your IT infrastructure with the specific objective of removing any possible glitches during the implementation of a new system. This exercise should be by involving your IT and the providers of your systems training solution.
How Assima Does Systems Training
Assima is the only option in the market that takes a holistic approach to systems training. We believe training is not a one-off event. Learning and improvement should never stop.
Unlike other solutions that only offer either an authoring tool or a performance support tool, Assima has two products that support users at every phase of the user adoption lifecycle – before go-live and after.
Assima’s Patented Authoring Tool
This is a unique tool for creating hyper-realistic simulations for systems training programs. By harnessing the power of a patented cloning technology, Assima’s authoring tool lets you develop simulations that look, feel, and behave like the real software. Unlike other tools that render static screenshots, Assima captures applications at an object-level. This lets content developers make changes directly on the screen and apply those changes across all lessons in record time.
Results: better training consistency, faster delivery time, and drastically reduced content development costs (and much less headache and menial, repetitive work for content developers).
From Assima’s long list of features, we’re sharing just a few to give you a glimpse of the possibilities:
- Object-level capture (Patented feature)
- Single Source Updates
- Multiple outputs from a single source
- Auto-generated process documentation
- Localization for easy translation in any language
- Anonymization of sensitive data
- SCORM Compliance
- Granular Analytics
All the features of Assima’s authoring tool join hands to give you a significant edge over other options by offering the following key advantages:
Better Learning & Retention – The systems training created with Assima are not static screenshots. They are hyper-realistic simulations that users can interact with – in any pattern they want. This striking resemblance and the ability to interact improves employee learning and retention rates.
Easier to Maintain – Our unique ability to capture applications at an object-level lets the content development team capture once, bulk find & replace objects update from a single source. This way you can manage a high volume of lessons in a breeze.
Easier to Scale – Assima is proven to seamlessly handle systems training for enterprises having thousands of employees with multiple projects running simultaneously. You don’t have to worry about the quality of your systems training while you grow your business.
Assima Digital Adoption Platform (DAP)
Enterprise applications change faster than ever. And regulatory landscapes are becoming increasingly complex. Assima DAP takes care of both. This in-app layer informs your users of process, software, regulation, and compliance updates and guides them through challenging use cases step-by-step at the moment of need
Here’s a list of key features of the Digital Adoption Platform:
- Contextual In-App Guidance
- Change Management Notifications
- Automated Workflows
- Instant Data Validation
- Data-Driven Insights
Click here to know more about Assima Digital Adoption Platform.
Reduce Mistakes – With such a guide in place, it is hard for your employees to go astray. Features like data validation at the time of entry and automated workflows minimize the chances of making mistakes.
Reinforce Learnings – Assima DAP This digital assistant constantly stays with the learners after the go-live and keeps nudging them gently in the right direction. These reminders help reinforce the training materials to enhance their engagement and retention.
Increase efficiency – With the Digital Adoption Platform, your employees:
- Users won’t have to leave their work to find someone for help
- For minor updates, you won’t have to invest in another training program
- The need for retraining will be minimized because of the constant guidance
Holistic Learning Approach
You have seen the two parts that make Assima a full-cycle solution pre and post-go-live.
Here’s how the users’ learning journey looks like while using Assima’s software simulation training tool coupled with the Digital Adoption Platform:
Book a demo with us and we will show you our holistic approach in action, customized for your business needs.
In this article, we’ve tried to give you a clear idea of what exactly systems training is and how to do it the right way. We also dispelled common myths called in our expert to give you some practical tips.
If you observe closely, there are a few recurring patterns in this discussion that can make a real difference in the way you look at your systems training. First, clarity of thought is very important even before you start your planning. Secondly, the importance of meticulous planning cannot be overemphasized. Then, you need clarity of roles and expectations to make your training run smoothly. Finally, the choice of the right software to generate your systems training lessons is crucial for your success in this area.
You should take your time to plot all your needs against the available software simulation tools and decide carefully to avoid getting stuck at a later stage.
Our experts at Assima will be more than happy to put together a free demo to explore what’s best for your unique business needs. Feel free to book your demo today.
Frequently Asked Questions
User training should start before the implementation and continue throughout the implementation process. This way, the users get the time and reinforcement required to help build their muscle memory.
Soft skills training is the general term used for training programs that are aimed at improving people’s personality traits like problem-solving, decision-making, etc.
Systems training is specifically used for training initiatives that are designed to teach the use of specific software to the users.