CAD Manager's Newsletter (#452)

26 Aug, 2020 By: Robert Green

Make Remote Training Work for Your CAD Users — and Your Boss

In-person and remote training may require different tools, but the end goal — and the need to get senior management on board — remain the same.

Have you ever heard statements like these? "We can always train later when we're not so busy" followed by, "Now that we're not busy, we can't afford training." I've heard them ever since I first became a CAD manager. Well in today's world, COVID-19 has created some additional wrinkles: all training is now remote, there's no such thing as a "standard workday" anymore, and many expenses are being cut. It all adds up to an environment that is wickedly difficult to conduct training in — yet train users we must!

So how should we address the topic of training in today's remote environment? This is a great question that we'll start to address in this edition of the CAD Manager's Newsletter. Here goes.

Travel man/
Travel man/

Why Train at All?

My belief has always been that training — be it remote or in person — is simply an investment in error reduction. It turns out, if you show people the right (or standard) way to perform a given task, they are more likely to achieve correct results and make fewer mistakes. And consistent training provides more consistent results as a training culture takes shape.

But how do we sell the need to train to senior management? By explaining that training saves money! Repeat that until it sinks in: Training saves money. So when your boss asks, "Why should I let you run a training program?" what will your answer be?

Show Me the Savings

OK, but just how does training save money? Here are a few savings generators I've found to be remarkably consistent throughout the years:

Standards save money, and training reinforces standards. Why have standards if you don't teach them? And when you do teach standards, users are more likely to follow them, which is the point of standards in the first place. Don't simply hope that users will follow standards, train them on how to follow standards and you'll reap the savings of increased operational efficiency.

Smooth the path to new workflows. Need to start using a new software app or extension? Train it. Need to walk through a project procedure for exporting data to a client? Train it. Changing the way you work can be left to chance, or you can control the change via training — I always vote for the latter. I would also note that when I think about how I will train a new workflow, I wind up writing a workflow standard as I create my training. Just as great training reinforces standards, great training can create great standards.

Solve problems and fix errors. If several people all make the same sort of mistakes, then you can use training as an intervention tool. You can add a demonstration of the errors you've had to fix, comment on how much time/money is wasted as a result, then perform a refresher training session on the proper way to work.

Gain efficiency by scaling up. As a CAD manager, you only have so many hours to go around, so doesn't it make sense to share your knowledge with all your users at one time, rather than dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis? Don't explain the same thing a hundred times — train a hundred people once.

Build a training library. With some judicious recording of your training sessions, you'll build a library of videos, so you'll never have to teach the same topic twice. More on that later.

Watch Out for Pitfalls

Before we think about how a training program might work, let's be sure we avoid some of the common mistakes I see made by many CAD managers. I'll take the approach of sharing what training is not, in order to get you thinking about exactly what it is. Training is not:

Optional. Training attendance is mandatory. If you're going to use the tools and work to the standards, you've got to be trained. Take attendance!

A social event. Training isn't about hanging around to foster camaraderie or team spirit, it is about achieving peak software performance. Want team building? Host a social-hour hangout online. Want to show people how to use the new standard components library? Teach them just that — and make it fast.

A chance to complain or vent. Training must be on task and to the point, without needless diversions. Do you have users that want to complain about things? Explain politely that a training session is not the venue for it, then continue with training. Training must be on task and to the point, without needless diversions. Do you have users that want to complain about things? Explain politely that a training session is not the venue for it, then continue with training. Read more »

Tools and Resources

How to Choose the Best On-Demand Training for Autodesk Software
During a recent industry group discussion, I was asked to provide insight regarding the best Learning Management System (LMS) for Autodesk software training. Like many things, best is a relative term. What works best for my firm may not work best for your firm, and vice versa. When implementing an on-demand training solution, you have two basic choices. You can build something from scratch, or you can choose an off-the-shelf solution from an online training provider. A solution you build from scratch has the advantage of being a solution built specifically for you, whereas an off-the-shelf solution has the advantage of granting access to a robust course library economically, and with little effort. — By Donnie Gladfelter, The CAD Geek Blog, July 15, 2020
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About the Author: Robert Green

Robert Green

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