If you're embarking on an MIS implementation project, you'll soon be planning in training for everyone involved, so they can learn how to use the new software. In this article we'd like to draw your attention to something that could have a big impact on your project - the difference between receiving 'training' on the software and actively 'learning' how to use the software – and what you need to do with this information to make your project a big success.
You'd be forgiven for thinking that training and learning actually mean the same thing. However, though the two are very closely linked, they are quite different.
Training is something you receive from your MIS partner, where they share their expertise and show you how to use the software. Learning is something you do independently, by absorbing that information and then putting it into action so you can develop your skills.
Occasionally, we encounter an MIS implementation where the company requests additional training before they go live, because they’re not feeling quite as confident as they’d like about the software. This is obviously something we take very seriously, and immediately investigate what the underlying issues are behind this. And our investigations always uncover the same thing - that they haven’t been given enough (or even any) learning time for them to practice what they were shown in their training.
Training is a very important part of the implementation process, and you absolutely should prioritize this and schedule it in your users’ calendars. But you also need to do the same for the learning part of the process too. Your users need time to practice, apply the knowledge they gained during the training and understand how to do their job with this new system. Without time for learning, your users won't be able to really test how they’re going to use the software until you're about to Go Live, which is going to lead to the situation described above.
One of the main things our implementation experts say can cause setbacks with a project, is when a company's attitude towards learning is far more laidback than their approach to training. The biggest issue we encounter in this scenario is that users aren't given enough uninterrupted time to spend learning the software.
Rather than trying to squeeze a few minutes of learning time in here and there, we really recommend that you allocate time blocks for your users to practice using the new software, making everyone aware that they are not to be disturbed during this time and holding them accountable for using these time blocks as intended.
In the same way that you would monitor training attendance, you can monitor learning progress by setting specific tasks that you can measure, for example:
Here at Tharstern, we also set our customers homework during their implementation project. (Don’t let the word ‘homework’ bring on a sweat though, it’s not like being back at school, we promise!) This is made up of a series of tasks that we ask customers to complete by their next training session, which could be things like:
The purpose of these tasks is to encourage learning and better prepare our customers, so they feel completely comfortable with the software when their Go Live date arrives.
TOP TIP - Our implementation team always suggest completing these tasks as soon as possible after training sessions, maybe a day or two afterwards, to make sure you retain all the information shared. Completing the homework before your next session also means you can quickly identify areas of uncertainty, and ask your MIS partner to clarify these in the next session.
The main message we want to get across here is that there absolutely is a difference between training and learning and that they are equally as important for your software project. Training will prepare you for Go Live, but it’s the learning and deeper understanding of the software that differentiates those printing companies who really smash their implementation project out the park.