Success with software depends on what the software can potentially do for your business. Notice I said potentially because the truth is that the software is only as good as the people who use it and the people who use it are only good as the training they have received from the software vendor. Whether you are talking about job cost, project management or financial accounting or more specialized applications like purchase and inventory control, there are literally hundreds of ways of entering, editing and processing transactions in most construction management software.
I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that the quality of training and implementation may actually be more important than the software itself!
So once users understand the critical function that training plays in software successes, the next question is how is that training going to be delivered?
There are three primary models that vendors offer for training:
- At vendor headquarters
- On-line or a blend of the first two
On-site (user location)
The main argument for on-site is simply that your company location is where the software is going to be used and it makes most sense to train people in their home environment. You can also “read” people better as to how they are catching on to the new software as well as their openness to new software. There is total focus on you and communications between staff is optimal when questions are asked. You can also have hands on access to old reports, information, etc. that is needed for setup and training. If you are away at a vendor’s location and only certain staff is there for training, it’s a lot more difficult to get answers from executive management on how certain things must be done.
During software setup key decisions are made on how to go about configuring the software to accomplish certain tasks. Examples might be how configure job and phase codes, the way purchase orders and inventory transactions will be accepted, and deciding how to handle month-end payroll accruals. When specific information is required, it is much easier to access when staff is on-site.
A disadvantage of on-site training is that due to travel time and cost on-site training usually needs to cover several consecutive days. This can be overwhelming and when the session is done the employee(s) may not have time to do their “assigned tasks” since they just lost a day or two working on the new software. They can also suffer from “burn out” and not absorb everything over multi-day intensive sessions.
There are some vendors who do not offer the option for on-site training and require that you go to their headquarters for training. This can be successful if all key personnel are involved in the training and the company can afford to pay for all their travel expenses. The vendor’s technical staff will be available if and when difficult questions come up.
It may also be helpful in terms of avoiding distractions by being away from their regular work place.
The major advantage of on-line training is the flexibility of scheduling training sessions in terms of when they are scheduled and for how long. For example, it could just take an hour or two to show a client how to enter customer, vendor, and general ledger accounts in new software. Trainees could then complete their assigned task of entering this information and then schedule another on-line session. A strong argument can be made for numerous, shorter training sessions in implementing new software for smaller, less formal companies.