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One size does not fit all – how to create your bespoke training program (Part 2 of 2)

SusanMerriman ‎04-26-2013 07:28 AM - edited ‎06-26-2015 01:47 PM

In my previous blog Carl Stephenson and I discussed when customers like you might consider creating bespoke software training for your people. However, many customers can be concerned that bespoke training is an expensive option. In this post I asked Carl to explain why this is not necessarily the case and to discuss a few tricks of the trade to create training programs that will really engage your users.


Is bespoke training expensive? Not necessarily

Customers often ask me this question. The short answer is that it’s not as expensive as you might think. And it’s not as costly as trying to retrieve a deployment where users haven’t been trained up front and the software is not delivering expected value. We also have a very smart tool at HP to help you build custom training. The tool includes ready-to-go courses for all core software solutions and bespoke elements can be easily added. I use the tool to develop my courses and in many cases I will recommend that a customer uses it to cost-efficiently prepare their own training programs.


There are, on occasion, some instances where it might be easier for me to build the training program from scratch and I work alongside the customer to do this. One of the reasons the tool was developed was to make it easier to design courses and prepare support materials and it is helping us to lower the expense of devising customized programs. Using the tool we can create instructor-led or self-paced online training. The core content for both options can be the same. More customers seem to be going for the virtual option these days. This in part is down to travel budgets being reduced but also the recognition that the flexibility of online content ensures that programs are as engaging as classroom-based sessions.


So what hints and tips do I have for making your programs a success? 


1) Check alignment

As well as understanding what the software should achieve from the organization’s view, it’s always worth checking with a cross-section of users what they want to get from the software and how they plan to use it. Ensuring both are aligned is one of the most important things you can do to ensure your training is successful. I also pilot proposed training on a small group of users to ensure it’s going to achieve what we need.


2) Keep it short, sweet and interesting

Whether we deliver training online or in person through instructors, courses can last up to four days. The days can be fairly long too so helping students stay focused is a challenge. For that reason, consider this:


  • Use short discrete slots of activity: Divide your content into short slots – I usually recommend that each instructor led lass should be a maximum of 50 minutes, and for self-paced online classes a limit of 14-16 minutes.
  • Continually challenge: Use simulations, lab exercises, Q&As, and multiple choice content to vary the stimuli and help people keep their concentration.
  • Take the caffeine: Any athlete will tell you that rest is as important as training. The same applies to learning. Build in breaks and allow people to clear their mind – it will help them to take more information in. 
  • Prompt for questions: Research shows that when people ask questions they learn more. Make time for questions and ensure that you are pushing people to ask them often during the course.


3) Review and improve

It’s always best practice to collect feedback forms from people who have taken your courses and use the comments to adjust the content in future. I also review training with the customer’s senior team and the HP account manager to ensure expectations were met and agree what future training support may be needed.


I also give my email to people as I’m always available to help them when courses have concluded. I’m very fortunate to work in training and I take a huge amount of personal satisfaction from seeing people improve.


If you have any hints and tips to make training courses a success, both Carl and I would love to hear from you – please use the comment boxes below. 

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