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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Introducing Technology Change


Congratulations!  Your business is investing in new technology.  You’re eagerly anticipating cries of joy from your team members when they use that shiny hardware, dazzling software, or brilliant process. 
Sadly, users often greet new technology with dismay instead of joy.  Faced with an abrupt change and the need to learn a new process, people can panic and resist.  To decrease panic and increase satisfaction, you need a training plan.  QBSI has helped organizations of all sizes deal with everything from minor adjustments to sweeping business process change.  Here’s what we’ve found works.

1.     Introduce the change.  Tell your team that new technology is coming, when it will arrive, and why the decision was made.  In my role as trainer for QBSI, I’ve heard a lot of variations of “It just showed up one day” and “why do we have to do this?”  We don’t want the users to perceive the new technology as an alien invasion – violent and disruptive.  We want it to be more like a cool new coworker that everyone is looking forward to meeting.
2.     Explain when training will be scheduled.  If training isn’t possible right away, most people will muddle through their basic tasks if they know more instruction is coming.  We’ve found it very helpful to post a “Questions?” sheet in a public place.  Ask users to think about their typical work and what they know they will need the new system to do.
3.     Put resources somewhere accessible.  Many products have electronic documentation and help databases.  Place links to those on a website or in a shared folder, and send an email to tell users where to find them. Physical manuals or “how to” posters can be placed with new hardware.
4.     Identify key users.  Most organizations have either official support staff, or an unofficial technology guru.  Plan additional training for those key users, with the goal that they will be a resource for their coworkers. 
5.     Train on the basics, plus a little bit.  An initial training can introduce the main features and tools. Ideally, aim to cover the basics that all users need, plus a couple of cool and helpful additional features to add excitement about your new technology and keep your more confident users interested.  Don’t try to cover everything.
6.     Plan follow up training for complex projects and needs. These should be smaller sessions that address specific users. For example, for a document management system, some users will need to know how to manage import or archiving.  For document production and printing, identify complex packets or materials.
The goal of this introduction process is for your users to become confident about exploring the capabilities and benefits of their new technology.  Help it be a friend, not an invader.
By Melinda Morrow
Product Support Specialist