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On the Record: Software Training ... Like Riding a Bike

Chris Spisto Comments

Recently, I watched my neighbor teach his son how to ride a brand-new two-wheeler. Do you remember when and how you learned to do the same?

From a distance, little Adam looked like a proud expert on his “big boy bike.” But at closer range, you could see his training wheels kept him upright, as did his father’s light hold on the bicycle seat. His helmet added insurance that he could avoid serious injury if he crashed.

That was a few weeks ago. Today, I noticed little Adam was on his bike, wobbly, but doing just fine. His training wheels were off and his father was no longer holding him steady. He’s now confident to go faster and farther, thanks to the time spent on his training wheels, which gave him the added confidence and skill he needed to take off solo.

What does this have to do with records management? Well, when it comes to software training, the principle is the same: Good, solid training is the basis for confidence, growth, efficiency and success.

After sinking a lot of money into your technology investment, you definitely need to focus on the next most important aspect of your business: staff training. If you’ve spent years planning and thousands of dollars on developing your business, you’ll only watch it all go down the drain if you don’t include training in your business plan.

This article assumes your company is starting with a new “bicycle,” that is, new records-management software has been purchased and is now in place (or soon to be). You’ve resolved questions about definitions, retention schedules, access, etc., and created policies and procedures. All that’s left is “training wheels and a helmet” before your business is off and rolling!

Manage Change

Nothing affects the bottom line of an organization more than the time-effectiveness of its staff; thus the importance of training is amplified. It’s staggering to think about how much more effective you and your staff would be in the records-management business just by mastering software that’s easy to learn and amazingly simple to implement. That’s why your team needs to know and understand why the move to management software (either a first or updated system) is so critical to your company’s success.

Think of your staff ’s time as part of your inventory: valuable, tangible assets (much like money in the bank) that need to be managed. Software enables you to perform at the highest skill level possible for a records center.

Sometimes the best way to understand new technology is to see it in action, and records management is no different. Via training, an integrated lecture and handson approach, your staff will not only get the technical theory behind the product, but also plenty of actual experience configuring, maintaining, managing and troubleshooting. Software instructors bring years of technical and training experience to the setting, ensuring a great educational opportunity.

Manage Expectations

Management needs to be clear as well to what is expected of employees from training. Everyone should know what will be accomplished by the new software, by whom, the anticipated positive outcomes and milestone dates. Discuss training: who will be trained, why, when, where and how.

Imagine buying a car before you’ve had driving lessons of any kind and then sitting behind the wheel, trying to figure out how to get yourself and the car back home. You’ll likely make a mistake, maybe have an accident. That’s not the way to learn to drive a car!

It’s the same with learning any software system. You need proper training before you or your staff can be let loose on costly technology. Training should also be tailored to your company’s specific requirements to help you wring every dollar of value from your investment.

Unfortunately, training is much easier to postpone than to schedule and implement; there always seem to be other priorities demanding attention. Make sure to mandate training. Set the date; sooner than later is best.

Evaluate Training Options

Options run the gamut from web-based to in-person training:

  • Online: Technology vendors interested in your organization’s proficiency offer online training with their records-management software and certificate programs. These programs are convenient, and modules are available on demand 24/7.
  • Live Workshops: Training is either at a public or private venue, providing certificate programs and an interactive learning environment with other trainees and a trainer.
  • Vendor-Lead Training: This approach is extremely focused on a specific product. Vendors have trainers with in-depth knowledge and expertise within the records-management industry.
  • Consultant Training: A software professional trains on site, either on request or by a prearranged schedule, providing expert advice to help staff improve their technological effectiveness. This process includes identifying and analyzing your company’s specific needs, problems and processes involved in sales and marketing activities.

Training Wheels and Helmet

Business has changed. What companies need today is a technology partner who’s able to see one step ahead and is expert at helping others do the same. Software training is the perfect way to make the most of technological changes in the marketplace, resulting in increased revenue, profit and growth. It will help your staff improve your return on investment, clearly define requirements and deploy your system faster.

When purchasing this technology, look for a software vendor who has a solid reputation and offers classes continuously. Make the vendor’s trainers have substantial experience in records management.

Successful companies aren’t defined by what they do to reach the top, but what they do to stay there. You’ve got the skills to distinguish yourself; now learn how to use the tools. Like little Adam, get exactly what you and your staff need in the way of training, because it can make or break your investment. You’ve come this far. There’s no sense leaving anything to chance now. Training is your safety helmet for the long road ahead. 

Christine Spisto is director of marketing communications and public relations for O’Neil Software, a 25-year-old company that provides records-management software and hardware for more than 850 record centers worldwide. O’Neil’s solutions manage/track multiple types of data including traditional storage boxes, file folders, documents and tapes. The company is also known as an industry pioneer for barcode tracking, portable printers, laser scanners, wireless handhelds and Web technology. For more information, visit

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