Omatic Software employs some very talented, experienced software trainers and support personnel. I wish I could take credit for it, but most of the team is old news compared to me. Callie Brown-Ali did a great job in the last training post explaining the importance of software training and some key things to think about. While the teams here are happy to do training in any of these delivery methods, my personal preference is virtual training. Since I am writing this follow up blog post, I thought I’d share a few items to consider before your next virtual training session. With a quick survey from our training and support teams, the following “Top 10 Tips for Preparing for Your Virtual Training Session” was created.
1. Define the appropriate participants – Ensure that all applicable software users are present at the training session. This might mean that a large percentage of your organization’s resources are taken up during this time, but the benefits will far outweigh this as everyone will be on the same page when it comes to understanding how to utilize the software. If you are an organization that has an extensive decision making process regarding your database, you may want to consider who should be involved in the training session or which parts, and whether a train the trainer approach may work best.
2. Do Your Homework – All participants should prepare ahead of time by obtaining all downloads needed and by completing any homework assigned by the implementer (Avoid cramming at the last minute. It might have worked in college, but let’s not go that route this time). When several individuals are being trained at the same time, it is imperative that everyone is on the same page. Many times when homework is not done, it affects your hours, your coworkers, and your trainer. Often times by asking the trainer what you can do to prepare so you have the most successful session, they will provide several ideas. Ask what discussions you can have in advanced that might assist in the training process
3. Clear Your Schedule – Make sure you do not have to attend to any other pressing needs during this time. Plan to stay for the full allotted time (This means if you have an outside engagement at 5:00 pm and will need to leave early, do not schedule a training session that goes until 5:00 pm). It is also typically best if you leave a bit of time on either end so that you are not rushing from one thing to the next or if your training runs long, you can accommodate.
4. Find The Best Approach – If everyone is going to be participating in a large conference room for example, make sure that you have adequate space for all. Or, if people will be viewing from their individual work stations, make sure that they are able to learn in a quite environment and are undisturbed during this time. With larger groups, we often hear that it is best for everyone to be together. This provides some accountability and collaboration in their learning. Define whether you will use a monitor or individual computers and test these out before the meeting!
5. Define Roles – Who will be doing the computer navigating during the training? Who will be taking notes? Who will be making the decisions? Have these parameters set aside ahead of time. If there are areas that you think will require discussion on your end, try to have those in advance or inform your trainer that you may need to decide after the training session.
6. Arrive ahead of time – Attendees should ensure that their computer systems have all necessary software and updates to allow them to view the webinar as well as a functional headset that will allow them to participate with the webinar or speaker phone. Ask the trainer in advance if there is any special software you may need. Additionally, ensure that you have administrative rights to the workstation you will be working with as it might be required that you download additional software to complete the training session.
7. Do not plan to multitask – This might be obvious but is very common and defeats the purpose of the training session. Many organizations don’t realize that the software trainers use records and shows the time that is not active in the window and can often discourage or derail a training session. Remember, your organization is investing in your training session so you should do your best to not waste that investment. The training is here to help you and if you are bored or finding it too basic, mention something to your trainer so they can adapt.
8. Ask questions – Make sure you take what you need from the training session. If there is a topic that pertains to you, make sure you do not leave with any unanswered questions. Likewise, remain engaged with any available support, forums, and product feedback sites to keep on top of your learning. Virtual training takes many of the advanced tools from on-site training in that it you will have a dedicated trainer for a specific period of time. Utilize and take advantage of their knowledge!
9. Share notes and defined processes after your training – Everyone on your team should be on the same page with regards to process flows. Document these and follow up with support on any loose ends. At most nonprofits there is turnover, a well-documented process can decrease the amount of money spent on continuous training.
10. Implement – Make a realistic project plan to go live and utilize the project post training. Do not wait weeks or months to actually utilize the product as you are most likely to forget everything you’ve learned. Start with something that is doable to get your teams familiar. Try not to plan your largest project immediately after and have the success dependent on their knowledge. Users always find something new as they use the first few times. Give yours a buffer and plan a few projects that users can engage in immediately after implementation.
Hope you enjoy and don’t forget, if you planning on using a webcam for your virtual training session, showering is important.