Training is a prerequisite of any successful implementation of, or migration to Microsoft Office 365. But the project plan, change management structure and even the ROI are often based solely on technical aspects such as cost of software, new features and migration details. Without also focusing on the essential element of end user adoption, any such project is doomed to fail.

This means that far too many projects neglect early end user engagement designed to promote acceptance and adoption of new services. Missing this early engagement stage can cause unwanted downtime during go live and in the following months, and this can in turn result in far less value being delivered for the customer than originally predicted.

If training is identified as a need later on in the project, budget will need to be found. This can cause “borrowing” from other areas to pay for necessary training. Reassigning budget when a project is already underway introduces a high level of risk and could even delay the project resulting in missed milestones and lower success.

Building an effective training plan into the project from the beginning will greatly increase the chances of full success of the project via fantastic end user adoption. The budget for this training does not have to be excessive. On demand, online training combined with live instructor lead training, again online, is available for a fraction of the cost of traditional training and requires far less organisation resource and planning.

The training budget should also include an element of internal communication to drive motivation and engagement with the training, both ahead of and during the project.

The training program should define the milestones that are to be hit for the success of the project and these milestones should consider the needs of the end users. This includes the identification and training of the champions of change, the users that have been identified to lead end user adoption on the shop floor.

Well prepared and well motived end users can help a project roll out happen smoothly and with the minimum of friction, keeping the project on time and on budget. And of course with a greater chance of the project delivering the financial benefits and business efficiencies that were predicted when working out the ROI justification ahead of the project.

The training strategy should be a part of the initial project planning phase and a central pillar to the messaging that drives the motivation for end users to adopt the new technology.

The training program should look at the following standard questions:

  • Who must be trained, including identifying user profiles and groups?
  • What topics should be covered in the training and whether there should be technology based or based on a user’s role?
  • Where to share the training information, ideally through a training portal?
  • When to start the training and how long it will continue for?

Some training can be done in advance but it’s not reasonable to expect people to learn and remember all aspects of advance training. Providing self-service, just in time training, where users can access training on demand throughout the first year or two post adoption will boost end user adoption.

Why the training is required? This is so that all parties with a vested interest in the project’s success understand the great importance of training to drive end user acceptance and adoption.
How to carry out the training? Ideally online, on demand and with live trainers online who can answer end user questions.

Recognising the need for training and building it into a project from the very first stage will help the project meet its predicted ROI, get the project delivered on time and remove many of the unforeseen problems that end up hampering projects.

Understanding the need for training, and planning the training program, also may require the assistance of specialists who have worked with many similar projects. They can not only help with the planning but also the roll out and ongoing needs of users for training.

Every project is unique but the need for end user adoption is universal and to achieve this, training is essential.

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