Software training isn’t what it used to be—and that’s a good thing. More and more, pricey software consultants are being replaced by self-service training portals, designed to accommodate the schedules and learning styles of the individual users, and built either by hand or with e-learning authoring software.
The stakes for this are high, however: Done right, it can boost employee morale and increase retention, but a botched self-service training process can mean wasted resources and an ill-prepared workforce.
Thankfully, there are some best practices that’ll help your business devise an effective self-service software training plan. But before we get to those, let’s cover the basics.
What is self-service software training?
Self-service software training is the process of providing individual employees with the resources they need to learn a new system. This usually involves the creation of an internal website or landing page that hosts all necessary training information, from a basic introduction to detailed tutorials for work-related tasks.
That said, determining the contents of your self-service training site can be tricky; you need to be thorough and comprehensive, but in a way that doesn’t confuse or overwhelm the trainee.
Here are some must-have items that make navigating your training site a breeze:
A diverse media mix
The written word, while tried and true, isn’t the only way to convey information. Some concepts can be explained through text, but others will require visual supplements in the form of screenshots or video—think YouTube clips, such as this tutorial for how to create an invoice in QuickBooks:
Even breaking sections out into numbered steps or bullets can be helpful, because the last thing your employees want to look at is a big block of words on a page.
The more information on your self-service training site, the harder it is for employees to find what they’re looking for. Avoid clutter by breaking your site into multiple pages and including a table of contents—with anchored navigation links—at the beginning. This will allow users to navigate directly to their desired section, thereby streamlining the process and saving valuable time.
An FAQ page
Your trainees are bound to have questions, many of which will be similar in nature. You can nip a lot of these in the bud by including a list of frequently asked questions. Be sure to include a contact form that allows employees to submit any unanswered questions with the option to schedule an appointment, request in-person assistance, or talk to a specialist.
Why self-service software training is important
Gartner predicts that by 2022 75% of organizations will include employee experience improvement as a performance objective for HR and IT groups. Why? Because employees are the engine that keeps your business humming—and the data shows that they prefer self-service options.
In most cases, what’s good for employees is good for your organization, and self-service software training is an employee- and business-friendly solution for a couple of reasons:
It offers more flexibility to time-strapped employees
With a centralized hub of information at their disposal, employees have ’round-the-clock access to the information they need, with the freedom to go at their own pace. This is much more navigable than companywide sessions, which, by nature, take a universal approach to training despite the distinct learning styles of each individual.
It’s a more scalable solution
Self-service training sites are more efficient, cost-effective, and scalable than traditional in-person training methods. Unlike hiring third-party specialists to conduct a series of costly training sessions, a self-service solution can reach an unlimited number of people with fewer resources. What’s more, all that information is available for as long as you need it to be—weeks, months, and even years beyond its original rollout.
How to get the most out of self-service software training
Employee training of any kind will always be a significant investment—if you don’t have a learning management system in place, you’re missing out on an important mode of employee development.
While the content itself will keep employees informed, there are other, less tangible things you can do to stretch your training dollar further:
Keep your information current
In today’s environment, business processes evolve at a rapid clip. Roles change, workflows shift, and the way you did things on the first day of training won’t last forever. If you want to extend the life of your self-service training site, you have to keep it as current as possible.
Monitor search activity
If your site includes a search function—and it should—monitoring what your employees search for will reveal the topics that matter most to them. Use these insights to identify points of emphasis or topics where you could be more thorough.
Optimize the site for mobile devices
Nowadays, mobile optimization is the rule, not an exception. Allowing your trainees to access information on their smartphone gives them the freedom and flexibility they crave, whether out of necessity or personal preference.
And that’s it—you’re now well on your way to having a bona fide self-service training process. But your quest for knowledge shouldn’t end here.
For starters, take a look at our lists of learning management and knowledge management systems. These products help businesses implement and manage ongoing training initiatives, helping to automate and streamline processes with maximum efficiency.
If it’s more knowledge you’re seeking, our resources page is chock-full of insightful software-related content. Whether it’s how to measure employee engagement or the most important engagement metrics, we have the info you need to help your business succeed.