Preparing for Success: How to Plan Systems Training

Words that strike fear into most: ‘Systems Training’. But, does this really need to be the case? No one likes to change. Fact. According to a survey conducted by Forrester Research, “people” issues are the biggest challenge to successful system implementation.

These “people” issues fall into three distinct categories:

  • 15% aligning organisation with new ways of working
  • 49% slow adoption
  • 35% inadequate change management training

So, how can we overcome this?

Create a comprehensive training plan.

Make the upfront investment in tailoring each training session you provide to its audience and not only will you see above-the-odds returns when it comes to operationalising new technology, but your employees may even come to respect you in ever more abstract ways.

“Not so old school after all” will be the new office mantra.

Nothing will impact success like an underprepared workforce, so simplify the lives of those around you. It can only streamline yours when it comes to avoiding tricky technology-related questions down the line.

Know Your Audience

Flexibility is the key to productivity. We’re not suggesting a yoga-based warm-up pretraining, but we are asking that you arrange different sessions to accommodate different teams.
Few sales reps will care about the intricacies of a flash new accounting app. Equally, HR may be less than enthused by up-to-the-second CRM reporting. Keep groups small with the content focused on the individuals in the room.

To improve the adoption and usage of a new system, you first need to understand how your workforce is doing things. Only then can you create training tailored to each department’s needs and manage the change with minimal impact to end-users and in turn customers.

Furthermore, an all-day deep-dive is a sure-fire way to turn open-minded employees into reluctant naysayers. Introduce Novelty 1 out of 3 employees state that uninspiring content is a barrier to their learning.

The brain craves novelty. It’s simple. Why do we love Candy Crush one day only to move on to the next big thing the next? It’s shiny. It’s new. It’s novel.
Training need not be dry. Aim to introduce a fresh approach after each break, with a variety of exercises and verbal instruction.

Our attention span is limited to roughly 20- minute bursts, so cut sessions into soundbites and vary delivery. Mix between hand-holding, learning-by-doing and training-the-trainer methods to make sure every stage is as interactive as it is educational, inviting trial-and-error to maximise retention.

Most learn best by doing, yet even the most retentive minds will only remember up to 40% of what they are taught. By breaking sessions into shorted sections, mixing methodologies, and using playful elements, perhaps you can squeeze a few more drops into an already overflowing brain.

When to Be Specific

For those with mission-critical tasks – be it a CFO, Lead Engineer, or others – a one-to-one approach may be the only option. Identify key stakeholders who must have an in-depth understanding and schedule a session in which they receive focused support.

This is an expensive exercise, and fruitless when employees don’t need that level of understanding, however, for the critical few, this could be the make-or-break of a profitable year.


Don’t expect a perfect recall. There will be mistakes. How many times have you scored 100% on an exam, even with that last-minute cramming?!

Focus on the key features in the first phase of training, identify learning objectives for each team – preferably with their input – and establish the minimum level of understanding needed before cutting them loose on the platform.

Refresher sessions, in-depth learning, and Q&A’s are also vital for re-enforcement both of what has been learned as much as new elements to be introduced. A phased approach helps the audience feel less overwhelmed at first sight of the technology and will optimise uptake.

User Manuals: Tread Carefully

Too many organisations are over-eager when inundating employees with a ‘how-to’. Wait until your employees are adequately oriented, then share a personalised manual that elicits the most pertinent points to their position.

And treat this purely as a reference (not as a training supplement!).

But, Don’t Skimp on Agendas

Our brains work best on a schedule. Set an agenda and outline the length, objectives, and items that will be covered to maintain motivation and concentration. There is nothing like clockwatching to kill the mood; unless its clockwatching without an end in sight.

Training can be tiring, but personalisation can increase engagement by introducing a more light-hearted approach that optimises productivity. Ask your employees for feedback, seek the support of product champions, and update your methods to keep things fresh.

If done well, at the end of the week: the user manual should write itself; the trainees should become the trainers; and this outrageously large investment should start to show signs of a return.

That’s the reason for the process, right?

Steps to Success

Encouraging effective adoption of any new system requires a thorough, relevant training strategy for effective change management. It’s a continuous process that requires creating positive expectations before an implementation, building skills during the implementation and sustaining engagement and motivation after going live.

As such, the success of any systems training resides in its delivery. To increase adoption, it should be broken down into 20-30-minute sessions, use a variety of delivery methods, including demonstrations, videos, hands-on experience, and discussions. Training should also include tailored content to engage with each specific audience, which will help increase adoption. What’s more, once one department has learned the new system and is singing from the rooftops about it, it’ll create an exciting “buzz” around the office.

  • Create sessions that invigorate your audience – understand what makes them tick and be imaginative in delivery styles.
  • Be inventive, creative, and novel. We all like fun, so see how you can add game-like or competitive elements to your training days.
  • Phase the training. Don’t overwhelm. Set sessions to run over the course of a few days, if not a week. The less you try and cram information in, the more likely your audience are to absorb what you deliver.

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