No substitute for instructor-led training

End-user training enhances the end-user experience and staff morale while improving business performance and profitability.  Dorette Van Den Ende, Customer Services Director at FSI, Concept CAFM developers, discusses with PFM magazine.

When it comes to financial streamlining, the training budget is traditionally one of the first overheads to enter the cost-cutting spotlight. But trimming the enterprise's training investment could compromise a host of wider business benefits that can be realised by tapping in strategically to a system vendor's support network.

Today, CAFM platforms such as Concept from FSI are fully evolved, sophisticated business tools which deliver information that has a direct impact on the organisation's productivity, efficiency and performance. 

Delivered by a supplier who has taken time to analyse the realtime needs and goals of the customer, the right kind of training and support extend way beyond the application itself to the context in which it is being deployed and the business processes and workflows which will be streamlined by the software investment.

As a CAFM specialist, it has always been FSI's experience that end-user training enhances the end-user experience and staff morale while improving business performance and profitability, particularly when it is delivered through scheduled courses based on specific business requirements. System training can reveal as much about the client's business processes as it does about the practical use of the application.

The alternative - a training offering that takes a blanket approach, throwing everything about the system at the end-users without any attempt to nuance or tailor the elements that will work specifically for the business - devalues the role that training can play in opening up wider knowledge and broadening attitudes to the value of technology.

There is no substitute for instructor-led training. Despite a wider trend to eLearning models, the benefits of having a human being, talking in real terms about the system, demonstrating the system's capabilities in response to specific end-user questions - and giving non-technical users the confidence that they can't break it! - are obvious in the outcomes: fewer support calls and contented staff.

The classroom setting for tailored training helps to build an appreciation that a big CAFM system can be broken down into manageable components, which an individual user can apply to their role or function in the business.

Sharing different views, angles and experiences of the system in the classroom is a great way to discover new potential benefits and feed them back into requests for product development and refinement.

With a key account manager overseeing the CAFM user's support requirements, training becomes an integral part of the bigger picture which includes the development of new modules, shared information about the direction of product development, and the constant matching of what's happening in the supplier's business with the customer's aims and ambitions.

This alignment between the CAFM vendor's roadmap and the client's business is an essential part of the service delivery model. It fuels a sustainable vendor/customer relationship. And it means the key account manager can provide an eagle's eye-view of developments that will have a direct impact on the enterprise's ability to gain maximum value from its investment in the platform.

By taking a proactive approach to service and support, we have long since learned the benefits of collaboration on both sides of the relationship - from system training to floor-walking on the day a new enterprise system goes live and beyond, to handling complaints and reservations about the way the CAFM platform is performing, and secure client access portals and WebEx sessions which allow end-users to speak frankly about their experience.

These touchpoints are fundamental in helping us to discover new things about how people use the system in the context of their business - and that drives innovation on our side.

Listening to the customer - and particularly to any complaint, which should always be treated as constructive criticism - helps us get to the root cause of any problem quickly, so that our service quality can be improved. Whether a misperception about the system has to be addressed or there is a need for a product fix, responding to complaints gives us a fast-track to the right solution.

This degree of collaboration extends to user groups. These bring customers together to share their experiences and see what we have in the pipeline, but also to tell us what they'd like to see from Concept in the future. That's where we get a strong sense of whether we're on track with, ahead of, or behind their expectations.

Top-class training and support helps end-users to develop their own levels of expertise, boosting productivity, and by becoming CAFM champions in the organisation, helps to reinforce the original investment - and therefore spend less time calling the help desk in search of simple information.

They enable a two-way communication channel which helps to build an intuitive understanding of the specific workflows, processes and goals that CAFM enables within the customer's organisation. Essentially, they help us to put the client at the heart of our business.