James Smith compressedThere is much made of the advantages businesses can gain through applying new technology, software updates and new applications within their operations, but less attention is paid to the need to train people to use all this new technology.

James Smith, Training Manager at managed IT service provider Quiss Technology argues that implementing new technology and assuming people will know how to exploit it fully, is a risk for UK businesses: “Everyone accepts new technology will move a business forward, but progress will be slow if businesses continue to assume the users of the technology will either pick it up as they go or learn about it in their own time.

“New operating systems are often introduced without appropriate training being provided. Many organisations hope their employees will learn new systems on their own time, which rarely happens and reduces the efficiency and productivity advantages offered.

“The same is true for major upgrades, like a new version of Microsoft Office. Favourites like Outlook, Word and Excel can change significantly, yet the potential improvements and efficiency savings will be missed if people are left to discover the differences for themselves.

“The same is true for software unique to an organisation, with the best training providers offering ‘train the trainer’ services, where one of their trainers sits in on sessions delivered by the provider of the software. This allows them to understand the integration and deliver future training to new starters, or use the knowledge as part of an ongoing training contract.

“Traditional classroom training remains useful, but the best providers will offer on-site training for small classes in short sessions, covering the most popular issues, with employees booking in advance to suit their individual needs.

“Another useful approach to training is floor walking, which allows trainers to help users solve problems they face, using their own data and systems; better for learning than invented scenarios.

“Training and practical experience also allows users to achieve qualifications that can help their career progression. Achieving the recognised Microsoft Office Specialist or Expert status will demonstrate an individual’s abilities better than claims to be ‘proficient’ in a variety of disciplines.

“When employees are achieving qualifications, it’s not just good for them, but the organisation too, as it shows the organisation values its employees and actively supports their learning. Testing centres are available throughout the UK, open to individuals and organisations.

“The most popular technology training covers the familiar Microsoft product range, including Windows and Office. The integration of third-party finance packages and CRM solutions are gaining in popularity as organisations seek ever greater efficiency and productivity.

“Training users first to be cyber-security aware and then how to mitigate the risks of cyber-crime is becoming more important. Despite the effort expended in securing of systems, criminals know the weakest point is the individuals using the system, not the system itself.

“Cyber-security training for employees handling sensitive and confidential data is essential, particularly if they require remote access to work systems. Cyber-criminals change their approach and attack methods on a regular basis and ensuring employees are aware of each new method of attack is essential to maintaining security.

“And it’s not just about passwords, but web browsing, phone hacking and not sharing on social media information that might inadvertently help criminals – even an innocent birthday message to the head of finance could be useful in the wrong hands.

“Too many organisations implement new technology and forget to provide training to those expected to exploit the technology and deliver the benefits it promises, which is a bad mistake when such comprehensive support is readily available.”

By Alison