Train by Audience, Not by Feature

Know your audience. Rather than set up general training sessions, use the broader sessions to explain WHY you’re doing this, and what the benefits are.

You’re there! The platform has launched and excitement from your employees has reached fever pitch. They can’t wait to get in and simplify their lives, and you can’t wait for that return on investment to start paying you back for the hard work you’ve put in so far. So what’s next?

Think about all those sales and product demos you sat through during the selection process. Now think about the weeks and months of preparation it’s taken you to get to the launch day. Remember the use-cases you were validating against? You selected a platform and you invested in something that can do hundreds or even thousands of different things. And those are just the ones you know about. Wait until it gets into the hands of the people.

You’ll probably start by putting together user guides, training and support materials and endless presentations about how awesome the new world is. Then you’ll set up Webexes, town halls and gatherings in offices across the company. You’ll even make sure to do them at reasonable times to account for your global workforce in multiple timezones.

And then you start to see the issue. How long can those sessions be? An hour maximum? How are you going to get through that 95-page deck in that time? How can you even begin to spend enough time on each killer feature and still leave room for the inevitable questions? The answer is you can’t. It’s simply not possible, and even if it was the chance of everyone in the room or on the call being interested in every feature you show them is non-existent.

Don’t overwhelm everyone. Know your audience. Rather than set up general training sessions, use the broader sessions to explain WHY you’re doing this, and what the benefits are. Then tell people they can attend training sessions specifically aligned to their role.

Those audience focused sessions should concentrate on a handful of useful features related to that group. Give them just enough info to make sure they get something useful from it and are able to start discovering related features as they go. Perhaps you’ll set up training for executive assistants which focuses on how to find people, manage profiles and set up meetings. Or maybe a session for project managers detailing how to manage projects and documents, agendas etc.

As soon as you arm your users with enough knowledge to make the platform useful for them, they’ll explore more and realise that it is worth their time understanding what else it can do for them. You don’t need to show every person every feature. Show them what they need, then let them discover the rest and they’ll end up showing each other.

Finally, extensive use of in-context help/training will always be well received. If you’re able to surface your help materials in small relevant chunks at the time the user needs them they’ll be much more useful than being hidden away in decks or brochures in a dedicated training area.

This article will help you define your launch training strategy. As your community matures, and as new features are released you will need to take a different approach - which we’ll address in a different article. Remember, this is a large change management process you’re about to undertake but it never truly ends. Every new starter will need to be onboarded, so remember to build this into the onboarding process too.

Now that you’ve shown your users how to use your new platform, you need to show them how to use it, and actually make a difference to your business!