Seeing software clearly glasses Photo by Kevin Ku on Unsplash

Custom training – when there isn’t a manual for this

A story about that software only one person knows how to use… and they are leaving.

My *client has a custom database system that is was either implemented last year or is several years old. Francine, their chief admin, is the only one who really knows how to use it, and produces some mission critical reports. Francine is nearing retirement, or has accepted a job offer somewhere else, or is pregnant. Regardless, they really need someone else to learn the system ASAP and they need a manual to prevent this from ever happening again. The original developer can’t be found, doesn’t respond, or were never really good with support in the first place. The manual never did exist. They need help.

This situation is more common than you would think, and one that I love helping with. First off, I speak to management, to get some context for the value of this particular software from their perspective and what they understand about what it does.  Then I do some research. This process includes interviewing the very busy Francine and other staff in key roles and documenting what she does. Usually, I discover in the process a number of mission critical files or tools existing only on her own workstation that no-one else knows about, but should.

I summarize everything and run it by Francine for accuracy, and then write it up as a series of ‘how to’ documents for key procedures, with pictures and everything needed for another admin (or two) to be able to take over the task. Usually in the process I discover some efficiencies that can be gained and some ‘jewels’, tools Francine or others have developed that can be shared with other workers within the organizations.

At this point I may deliver a training class, in my client’s premises so no one has to travel, for the two or more staff members who have been delegated to replace the hyper-efficient Francine. They are usually joined by several others from the organization who need to be aware of this tool or could use a refresher with the best practices I’ve identified. The client receives the worksheets, training notes, and if desired, a complete manual of this software as relates to their organization. Francine is happy things won’t fall apart without her and feels like her knowledge is valued.

Sometimes you need custom training for a familiar software

Sometimes it isn’t a custom software clients need custom training for – it’s a familiar one which needs to be used in a specialized way. Sometimes it’s an industry specific one that is poorly supported.  General training classes for this software may exist, but they are time consuming and don’t focus on the core tasks that need to be done in this specific business, with these specific workers, with these specific learning styles and needs.  The process here involves determining how my clients workers use (and how they want to use) the software, then creating new materials or winnowing down existing materials to the most relevant materials. The result can be delivered as training or an custom instruction manual.

My client now can weather change

A client who invested in a software solution they use to run their business is now better able to weather changes in staffing, and has more people available to fill in for one another in key roles. Their investment of time and money is protected. They don’t have to purchase new software that their staff has to learn from scratch with all the disruption and down time that entails. Instead, they can make better use of what they already have and know. Their staff are supported in doing their jobs well, and recognized for the work they have done. Everybody wins.

*Names and details have been changed. This is a combination of several real situations.

Custom Training

Sophia Kelly has been training people to use computers well since before the turn of the century. Sounds like a long time, doesn’t it? With over 20 years of experience, Sophia knows how give people the skills they need and to teach in the way each individual learns. Contact 604-813-7674 to get started.

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