I've blogged about this before, but when implementing any software solution, whether project management or other, the executive leadership should play a key role. The leadership needs to sponsor, support and stress the importance of attending the training sessions. In fact, it is a phenomenal idea to have the leadership attend the sessions. Why?
-They have incredibly valuable input to offer
-They will assure that they not only lead by example
-They will assure they get the desired results
Real World Examples of What NOT to Do
We had one customer purchase our software, then turn around and tell the team it did not matter whether they attended training or even if they used the solution. When we called this executive on the carpet about these statements, he said this, "They are grown ups. I can't tell them what to do...." Needless to say, the results were terrible. Some folks used the software, others did not. Result? Unreliable data.
Another example comes from a several hundred team member roll out. This customer's leadership did not state the ground rules during attendance of training. So, while our trainers did clearly state, please do not bring mobile phones and notebook computers, this was disregarded. While the team members were present in body, they were not present in mind. Result? The customer asked our trainers to return to re-train people that had attended training in this way, wasting their valuable time and money.
Best Practices of What TO Do
1 - Create a communication plan to let team members and stakeholders know why the training is important. After all, it is going to improve your current challenges and improve your business processes, right? Then communicate your message frequently until it is heard and understood by all.
2 - Make the training required for key stakeholders, not optional. Why? Life intrudes...that is to say, work is always there and present and it is easy to say to ones' self that work is more important than investing in improving processes.
3 - Assess the team member's knowledge after the training. Either have the team members take a test displaying product knowledge, or sit down with each individual and assure yourself they they understand enough to accomplish your goals.
4 - Ask the team to aggregate questions in Project Insight. Use the issues item type. Then meet with the team once a week. Pull up your issues/questions list. Have your power users answer all basic questions. If there are questions that remain, of course, email those over to our support team to get the answers. Then follow through in the next meeting with the answers. That way everyone feels heard.
5 - Document your business process decisions. As you decide how to use the project management software, you may want to create 'QuickStart Guides.' These are quick reference documents or articles in Project Insight that tell users, by role, how you want them to use the solution. If you do not have time to invest in this, our Professional Services team would be happy to help you with this exercise. This is valuable on many levels: when you hire new team members, they may learn from the guides, if you use the software with contractors, partners, or vendors, they can learn on their own, and it will remind you of the decisions you made should you forget down the road.
6 - Create an incentive for your team to learn, use and adopt the software. It can be something tangible like a bonus, or simply add it as an element to your performance review process. One customer had a team bonus for the successful implementation (defined by them) of Project Insight, all or nothing! It was very motivating and they hit their goal.
As Goethe wrote, "Boldness has genius, power and magic in it." Be bold!