Are Training Programs worth it?

I had the chance recently to talk with another System Admin and he was relaying some problems he was having after rolling out a new software package in their company.  The problem was that after it was was up and running and turned over to the users, it wasn’t widely used.   This program had eaten up months of the IT departments time and resources to plan, configure, install and test and only a handful of users would actually use part of the program.
After talking with them, they went back and talked with some of the users on why they weren’t using this program, and their number 1 answer?  “I don’t know how to use it.”  After this company had thrown tons of money and resources into this software to boost productivity, it was slowly dying because no one was trained on how to use the program.
Spending some time in my IT career as the primary trainer at a company, I learned the importance of proper training.  A users understanding and familiarity with a new piece of software, depends on how much and fluently they use the new software.  Also as an added advantage of training a users on software your company uses can cut down on calls made to support.  When users aren’t trained properly and they are forced to use a software, you’ll generally find they call or submit tickets to the helpdesk for routine questions that could have been covered during training.
It amazes me that in this day and age there are companies out there that don’t recognize the power of training their users in current and new technologies.  There are users out there who have very little computer knowledge and that’s something that an IT department should know, to make sure the user is dealt with helpfully.
I’ve sat down in the past and had extended training sessions with “problem users” only to find out that most weren’t trying to be difficult they just didn’t have the understanding of the software, that I thought they had.  Spending a little time with them ended up cutting down the number of support requests that the IT department received, and actually helped the image of the IT department in the company.
I think every company should have some level of New Hire IT orientation to judge everyone’s skills and try to create a baseline for computer skills in the company.  As well as new hire training, when new software is rolled out a refresher/update course should be held, to show user some current and new features that many could use to help become more productive.
Now some companies may frown at hiring and sending a dedicated IT professional around to the offices to train users, but that’s not the only way to train users now-a-days.  Trust me, I’ve made the trips for training, and while they did helped boost IT visibility, they also cut into my productive time as I had other responsibilities other than just training.  There are pre-recorded videos that are quick and easy to produce, and and cover more than you could in a class and let user focus on only videos that are of importance to them.  Also there are online sites that let you hold training courses ( that let you have instructor lead courses, that users can connect to and interact with.
In this time of cutbacks and trying to get more productivity out of users, companies need to be embracing standardize training programs to make sure that they are getting the most out of their users.  Any new software or hardware rollout should have training as part of their project plans, and make sure (if possible) IT is highly visible and proactively checking with users, to make sure companies get the most out of their investment.

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