Creating Training Videos, Part 38 Jul, 2008 By: Robert Green
Make sure you have the basics covered when beginning an in-house training program.
In the last few issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter, I've shown you how to deliver custom training content by creating your own videos. Although I've received some emails asking specific questions about the video topics, I've actually received more questions about training in general.
So I'll go back to the basics in this issue and cover the essentials of running an effective in-house training program. Here goes.
Get the Bosses' Support
A training program remains in place only when management wants it. Therefore your task becomes convincing your management that training your users will be a productivity-enhancing process that will make the company money. There's really no other way to put it.
To get your bosses' support, take the following things into account:
Save time. If you run a two-day training class that returns four hours of productivity over the next year, you're not saving any time, right? On the other hand, if you run a series of lunch-and-learn style classes every other month, that results in 15 hours of productivity per user, then you're really saving time. The latter case is what your boss wants to see.
Minimize work disruptions. No matter what, training can't interfere with getting projects done. If you need training sessions to last for long periods of time, consider splitting your training into several shorter sessions. Discuss your timing issues with project managers and make sure that you aren't causing problems for the project team as you prepare for training. After a while your management team will trust you, but that trust must be earned by minimizing disruptions as training programs start.
Sell the users. Users need to know that they'll be learning skills to help them be more productive and that they won't get behind on their project work and their bosses won't yell at them. Note how you can achieve these user-driven objectives by meeting the two management-driven objectives I outlined above.
Train the Right Stuff
To generate user productivity you need to solve user problems as a function of your training. This sounds simple, but is actually difficult when you first start. Let me give you a few tips that should help you teach the right topics in the right order:
Find what confuses users. Base your training topics on these areas of confusion. I usually find lengthy processes, such as plotting, xrefs, and creation of new assemblies or models, to be the items that users have trouble with.
Find what confuses the greatest number of users. Don't teach a long training course on something that confuses one person out of your 50 users. Gear your training on a topic that confuses most of your users, and you'll save far more time for the company.
Find tips and tricks. Many times training can be a series of short little bits of information that users simply didn't know. This kind of tips-and-tricks training can fill in a lot of gaps in user knowledge and can be done easily in short duration formats like lunch-and-learns.
Find new features that save time. When doing product update training, focus on only the features that really save user time. Don't worry about teaching features that users won't need much — use your training time for those items that are critical. Even though you may want to learn everything about a new software release, your management simply wants you to teach users what they need to be productive.
Plan a Lot
As you can see, getting a training program started requires some homework, analysis, and understanding of your users' skill sets. The good news is that, as a CAD manager, you've got the background to undertake these tasks, so it shouldn't be too difficult.
Here's a few do's and don'ts about training planning:
- Do take the time to plan everything out.
- Do write everything down.
- Do show your plans to your boss.
- Do confirm training schedules with project managers.
- Don't think you don't need to plan — you do!
- Don't forget the users' concerns about training demands.
These items are the guiding principles I use to set up custom training for clients, and I rarely have problems.
Always Record Your Training
Use the tips from the last few issues of the CAD Manager's Newsletter to start creating your own training videos every time you conduct a training class. It doesn't matter whether it is a 45-minute lunch-and-learn session or a four-hour class on project procedures, record it!
After all, you'll never need to conduct the class again if you capture a good recording, right?
Now that you've got a game plan for setting up your training scheme, why not take the opportunity to think about your company's training needs and how you might meet them. Along the way, keep in mind that training is actually about business efficiency, and you should have no trouble getting your senior management's approval.
I'm interested in getting your feedback on how you make your training programs successful. Please email me any tips you'd like to share to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time.