Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8

Brien Posey, Freelance Writer and Former CIO | 2/26/2013 | 32 comments

Brien Posey
One of the steps in the transition to Windows 8 that is often overlooked is providing end-user training.

During my 20-plus years working in IT, I have seen countless situations in which the IT staff will perform an operating system upgrade over the weekend, leaving the end users absolutely bewildered when they arrive on Monday morning.

Experience has shown that no good comes from performing this type of transition. The end users lose productivity and the help desk gets bombarded with phone calls. All of this could be avoided by providing some basic end-user training.

One of the most common arguments against end-user training is that training end users on new operating systems is expensive. Even so, there are a few things to consider.

First, if you skip the end-user training, then most of the users will have to contact the help desk at least once. Although not necessarily tangible, there are very real costs associated with help desk calls. When you consider that most users will probably make a help desk call after an operating system upgrade and that some users will call more than once, you can begin to see that skipping end-user training can be expensive.

Another thing to consider is that the end users do not need to be operating system experts. As such, there is no reason to send end users to the same $2,000 per week official Microsoft training class that members of the help desk staff might attend. Users only need the basics. They need to know how to log into Windows, how to access their applications, how to change their password, and how to log back out.

Because end users really only need the most basic training, there is no reason why you would have to send users to an expensive off-site training class. In fact, there are any number of cost-effective ways that you can provide the users with the training that they need.

One option is to provide in-house training. Over the years, I have seen this done in a couple of different ways. One company that I worked with brought in a Microsoft-certified trainer for half a day and had the trainer teach the users what they needed to know. That actually worked out pretty well, but it did cost the company a few thousand dollars.

Another company set up a classroom with about 20 computers and had a member of the IT staff develop a training curriculum and teach the end users what they needed to know. Personally, I think that this approach to training could have been very effective. Unfortunately, the training was poorly implemented.

I mentioned in the previous paragraph that the classroom had room for about 20 end users. The positive aspect of this was that the classroom's small size allowed each user ample opportunity to ask questions. The negative aspect of the training process was that there were over 1,000 users in the company. Training 20 users at a time ultimately proved to be ineffective.

The class lasted for half a day, which meant that roughly 40 users could be trained in a day. This meant that only about 200 users could be trained in a five-day work week. The reason why this was so problematic was that some of the users received training more than a month before the upgrade actually took place. By the time that the upgrades happened, some of the users hadn't touched the new operating system in so long that they had forgotten everything that they had learned.

Another common option for end-user training is to provide users with video-based training that they can watch on their PCs. The advantages of video-based training are that you can keep costs low (assuming that you produce the video in-house) and you can reach a large user base with minimal effort because end users are free to watch the video when they have time.

Unfortunately, there are some disadvantages to video-based training. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage is that a significant percentage of the users won't take the time to watch the video. They might be too busy, or they might not be able to figure out how to access the video. Some end users will inevitably think that they don't need the training.

Another problem with video-based training is that it does not give users the opportunity to ask questions in the event that there is something in the video that they do not understand. This can be a real problem if creating the video was a way of preparing users for a radical new environment (such as the Windows 8 interface).

Ultimately, I don't think that there is any such thing as the perfect training method. Each of the training methods that I have discussed have their advantages and disadvantages. However, even a moderately successful training program is better than not having a training program in place at all. Failing to provide end users with training increases help desk costs while also lowering user productivity and morale.

View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
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batye   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   3/7/2013 2:02:57 AM
Re: Web based training
yes, you are right sometimes you could just get lost with information overload...
Anand   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   3/7/2013 1:28:08 AM
Re: training is essential not optional
they feel comfortable doing the same type of things they have been doing for a long time.

@Pedro, true. Brining the users out of their comfort-zone is very difficult. Hence companies take initiatives like training to educate the employees about the new updates and make them comfortable with the new technology.
Anand   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   3/7/2013 1:25:03 AM
Re: Web based training
this days a lot of the good quality but free training is awailable online including good free training for Windows 8

@batye, I agree with you. Lot of free training is available online, but its really important that end user shoud know what he wants to learn. Since so much of material is available online it would be difficult to go through all the content.
batye   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   3/3/2013 8:15:50 PM
Re: Web based training
yes, could not agree more, but this days to get a free training is only one google aways... as this days a lot of the good quality but free training is awailable online

including good free training for Windows 8...
Pedro Gonzales   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   3/1/2013 1:34:48 PM
training is essential not optional
I agree, proper training is essential when upgrades are done, people don't like to change, they feel comfortable doing the same type of things they have been doing for a long time.  I find it odd that even if training is done, its not planned appropriately, or at the proper time.  Training can't be overlook, its one of the things that must be done and done well.

Salik   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   2/28/2013 1:55:23 PM
Re: Web based training
@curtis, I absolutely agree with the inter YouTube thing within the enterprise efficiency. At least such a forum can be beneficial for all the potential learners of the new technology.
mejiac   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   2/28/2013 9:26:41 AM
Re: Perfect Training Method?
@Umair Ahmed,

At my current assignment, middle management is trying to explain the benefits of the new tools and methodologies being introduced, but in my view, until a clear line comes from the top, they'll still be pushing back until the very last day.
Umair Ahmed   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   2/28/2013 6:07:29 AM
Re: Perfect Training Method?
when something new is introduced, most managers simply leverage their decision making authority to push back

@ Mejiac: Very true, this is the real dilemma which hinders the implementation and success of new technologies in the organization. How to handle the opposition from your senior managers and change their attitude about any new technology or migration? This is very important because their opinion will have a significant influence on their subordinates.
Umair Ahmed   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   2/28/2013 5:49:00 AM
Re: Timing is an important factor
@ Zaius & Kicheko: Excellent point. This is true about everything new you want your people to learn. Learning is all about interest. First step should be to develop the interest of your students / team by presenting how migration to the new software or operating system will help them perform their tasks easily and effectively. Most of the times employees consider training as additional burden, you need to change this attitude to make your training achieve the desired objectives.
mejiac   Plan for End-User Training for Windows 8   2/27/2013 11:17:05 AM
Re: Perfect Training Method?

I think this happens the most in companies where Upper Management roles have been around for some time. So if you've been using the same set of tools/methodologies for the past five years, when something new is introduced, most managers simply leverage their decision making authority to push back.... so yeah, it makes implementation difficult, but not impossible
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