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Most IT End User Training Done Wrong, if Done at All


Enterprises spend millions equipping end users with hardware, software, and high speed network connections. Often, though, software training is an afterthought.

Training end users in IT too rarely happens, and when it does, it is usually the wrong kind. Unless training is done right, end users retain next to nothing. How do I know this? The Harvard Business Review (NBR) told me so in a recent article Where Companies Go Wrong with Learning and Development.

That’s not to say companies spend nothing on training. There are a plethora of technical, business, management, time management and other forms of training. It is just that teaching how to use productivity tools gets short shrift. According to HBR, in 2016 businesses across the globe spent $365 billion on training, but are generally disappointed with the results.

HBR looked at the data and founds that 75% of those asked in a recent survey are not happy with their organization’s learning and development (L&D) programs. That according to Gartner,70% of employees surveyed have not truly mastered their specific job skills. Finally, in a McKinsey  survey, just 25% believe that training truly boosts performance and productivity.

In all these cases, failure is not for want of trying. It is because the training itself flopped.

One problem is that training rarely happens when the employee is ready or truly interested. “Today’s employees often learn uniform topics, on L&D’s schedule, and at a time when it bears little immediate relevance to their role — and their learning suffers as a result,” HBR wrote.

The most effective teaching occurs when there is a specific and pressing need that motivates and engages the worker. In the case of productivity software, that happened when the employee is actually using the software, and especially when they run into a problem or really need to get something done.

Another issue is that training is not specific to actual need, often too general or off topic. The answer here is to identify what an end user needs to learn based on what they already know, already use within their software applications, and what new areas should be mastered.

The biggest learning problem is an agonizingly bad level of retention. In our work in the software training market, CoreView knows that users forget 70% of what they learned within 24 hours. After two weeks, we remember less than 10%.

A related issue is that people forget what they do not regularly put to use, the same way high school French so quickly goes out the window. HBR, of course, went to a prestigious source, in this case Matthieu Boisgontier, from the brain behavior lab at the University of British Columbia, who argued, “Conserving energy has been essential for humans’ survival, as it allowed us to be more efficient in searching for food and shelter, competing for sexual partners, and avoiding predators.” That intense focus means non-essential information falls by the wayside. At the same time, learning should occur regularly; spreading out the training so it can be absorbed and applied.

HBR’s Advice for Better Learning

The noted business journals suggest applying lean principles, such as those that drive today’s manufacturing and supply chains. “Lean learning, which pays homage to Toyota’s lean manufacturing system, stresses using effort only when it’s needed, improving outcomes, and cutting waste; it’s short, affordable, and provides employees and organizations with an immediate capability update,” HBR advises.

Here is how HBR defines lean learning:

  1. “Learning the core of what you need to learn
  2. Applying it to real-world situations immediately
  3. Receiving immediate feedback and refining your understanding
  4. Repeating the cycle”

HBR suggests that learning be applied to real-world situations. This reinforces the value of what was learned. The journal also advises guided learning. “Rather than provide training at specific intervals, guided learning embeds continuous learning into a live application. Think screen pop-ups as-you-go that support rapid, context-sensitive, and personalized learning,” HBR wrote. “This is especially applicable for functional leads, employee on-boarding, cross functional teams, IT, and end-user training.”

Finally, HBR believes in personalizing the content based on a worker’s performance and needs. In the case of Office 365, this requires knowing exactly what applications users are expert on, what they need to learn, and how to reach, motivate and train them.

Once training has occurred, it is important to follow up. With software, it is ideal to measure an end user’s progress, and then reinforce those skills with further communication, and training where needed.

“Lean learning ensures that employees not only learn the right thing, at the right time, and for the right reasons, but also that they retain what they learn,” HBR concludes.

Change Management

Realizing the full value of Microsoft Office 365 productivity requires a change management project consisting of adoption campaigns, training and learning, and rewarding the success of those users who gain O365 mastery.

This kind of change represents a continuous improvement process. Change management includes specific steps:  building awareness, spreading the message, training, celebration of successes, and reinforcement.

Change management demands real knowledge of individual users so you can target each with a customized adoption approach that engages them in the most effective way. The problem most Office 365 administrators and managers do not have detailed usage data for each end user. Collecting this data and getting reports is the first issue to tackle in building a successful change management/Office 365-application adoption project.

The second step is identifying the best messages to engage users. People love a solution that helps them solve problems and work better. Identity the best scenarios, based on what workers actually do (or do not do) to create user engagement and drive productivity.

Training Time

Once you have an adoption strategy, it is time to train your users. Training is a critical element of a successful change management strategy. Standard training approaches such as classrooms and traditional online training are not effective. As mentioned, standard training (classroom and eLearning) are not optimal since users forget 70% of what they learned within 24 hours.

Using or adopting all key productivity application is critical to Digital Transformation, and therefore effective end user training is vital to the success of any transformation initiative. On the other hand, a lack of end user training is the number one barrier to adoption, and a key reason why so many digital transformation projects fail.

CoreAdoption and CoreLearning

CoreView’s CoreAdoption makes it easy to filter usage data, create targeted product adoption campaigns and ultimately keep your change management efforts on track.

Meanwhile, CoreView’s CoreLearning is an innovative Just in Time Learning (JITL) solution. It includes over 2,100 video clips from 30 seconds to three minutes covering how-to tricks and instruction for Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Windows, and Dynamics CRM. The videos are integrated with the Microsoft tools, so users never leave the productivity environment to learn skills. They learn as they work, saving time, improving comprehension, and immediately boosting productivity.

Read our Just in Time Learning (JITL) whitepaper to find out more.

Or you can request a demo of either or both solutions!

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