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Blog: Training: the wider context for delivering improvement

By John Chapman, Programme Director | Friday 30th September 2016.
John Chapman


It’s important when creating a training programme to consider the organisation’s strategy for improving employee skills and capabilities.

For example when looking at software training you can look at the required skills from two perspectives:

  • The first relates to the software functionality, and how to effectively use the software solution that is being implemented.
  • The second, and most importantly, is to recognise that the software is used as part of a wider organisational objective to improve operational efficiency and effectiveness. The individual’s role in the organisation does not sit in isolation. The software is an enabling tool and the training needs to focus on the wider context, the bigger picture.

I’ll use a real-world example, which is Supplier Engagement and Supplier Relationship Management (SRM). It’s part of the PROACTIS solution that we deliver and it provides information about the organisation’s supplier base.

In engaging with the suppliers there are skills required to develop effective relationships. Beyond training on the software itself, there also needs to be training on working with suppliers including collaboration, joint ways of working and how to improve co-operation.

In recommending training approaches, the train-the-trainer proves to be cost effective. It is there to equip key individuals, who are likely to be subject matter experts in the role, to understand the implications of the software solution. They are then able to provide an enhanced level of training to the end users, covering both the software functionality (which an application trainer would give), and the contextual content relating to the organisation’s current and future business processes.

The location of the training again is context specific. One-on-one training might be best at the person’s desk, using their own work as relevant and applicable examples. Classroom style training, where there are groups of up to eight people who need to be brought together into a single location, is the traditional method that is thought of when referring to training.

More recently the use of social media and other technologies have enabled training to move to more of a ‘self serve’ approach. Recording webinars, screen shots with voice overs and posting these on intranets, extranets, YouTube and other such sites allows for cost effective distribution of learning material. There is still a place for printed material, whether this is one page handouts, printed manuals, or a combination of the two.

In my experience, early on the in the project the training strategy has to be prepared and agreed. This will cover who needs to be trained, what are their current skill sets, what future skills do they need, where are they located (to understand geographical considerations), what type of training might work best for them (self learning, one-on-one, classroom) and who is to give the training.

By considering training in this wider context of the overall organisational objectives, we can raise the operational efficiency and effectiveness – using the project as the mechanism for managing and delivering this improvement.

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