For a moment, imagine yourself at a car dealership, signing off on all the paperwork before driving in your brand-new vehicle. Exciting, huh? Bet you can’t wait to get in it and ride it off the lot. Good thing you learned how to drive at some point in your life and can handle the responsibility.
However, what if you purchased this vehicle without ever having taken driving lessons? You now have to deal with sitting behind the wheel and figuring out how to get yourself and the car back home. Frankly, without the proper training, you might be sitting in the lot for a long time, unless you decided to take fate in your own hands and go for a spin. Still, you probably wouldn’t ever reach your destination because you’d most likely plant your front bumper into another car, wall, building, etc. Now, that’s not how to learn to drive.
Well it’s the same with records-management software. Many studies have analyzed the obstacles and challenges in implementing effective records-management software. One would think the biggest issue would be related to technology, product shortcomings, infrastructure, costs and internal politics. Yet, most have concluded that the No. 1 obstacle most companies face is inadequate training.
You need proper software training before you and your staff let loose on costly technology. Good, solid training is the basis for confidence, growth, efficiency and success. It’s not enough to spend a few minutes with someone who knows a little about the technology via trial and error and willingly passes these brief lessons onto you.
You need training that is specifically tailored to your company’s requirements to maximize the benefits of your investment. Otherwise, similar to recklessly driving without proper education, if you’ve spent years of planning and thousands of dollars developing your business, you’ll only watch it go to waste.
Maybe you’re thinking this is “easier said than done.” I don’t blame you. Records-management software today offers so many bells and whistles that it may seem overwhelming and nearly impossible to learn about all the features, functions and tools. The good news is that, in many cases, you don’t have to. All you need is enough education to meet your company’s record-center targeted business goals.
Types of Training
Depending on your particular needs and circumstances, there are many types of training to learn how to manipulate records-management software. It’s possible, too, that you’ll prefer a combination of options to get the most out of your technology investment.
It could mean a complete and thorough read-through of the technical manual provided to you by your software vendor. Or it could require calling the manufacturer’s technical support group to help make sense of confusing issues. Additionally, enrolling in offsite vendor training courses or receiving onsite customized instruction could be the best solution. And let’s not forget online computer-based training.
The point is, choosing a software vendor is one of the single most important decisions you will make for your records center. Ensure you find one that actually developed the technology, knows it explicitly and can provide you with the training tools you need to build a successful, efficient, productive and profitable records-management business.
First Things First
Before you or your staff registers for any type of records-management software instruction class or classes, read the manual. Even if it’s not written in great detail, it will still give you an idea as to what the software can do. If your vendor’s program is top-notch, the technology will come with training modules built in, so you can experience some of the features and functions it has to offer.
Learning is a lifelong process. The best staff is willing and capable of learning new skills and software. And the best vendors are those prepared to be “teachers,” providing training in addition to manuals and other instruction materials.
Software vendor training classes are typically held each month at locations throughout the country. This allows you to plan work schedules in advance. The cost for these offsite classes tend to be a little less than onsite customized training.
Offsite training is extremely focused. Trainers have in-depth knowledge and expertise with the records-management industry. Certificate programs provide an interactive learning environment with other trainees.
Some managers might believe time away from their facilities is not best spent in training classes; but nowadays, most managers who attend training say it’s the best money they’ve ever spent. They learn the software, meet other people who use the same technology in similar environments, and begin to build a network.
Onsite Customized Training
Although a bit more costly an option, you may want to consider bringing a vendor trainer to your location. This allows you to control the participants and topics covered. You can work with the trainer and customize existing training materials, or develop new ones specifically designed for your company. If your records-management software has been customized, be sure the modifications are reflected in the training materials.
Some vendors interested in your company’s proficiency offer online computer-based training in their records-management software and certificate programs. Each program has several modules leading to a certificate award. These programs are convenient, and modules are available on demand 24/7.
This type of training offers cost-savings and the flexibility for students to work at their own pace and schedule. One disadvantage is that sometimes software can be extremely versatile and several methods or approaches can be used to address a particular records-management situation. With online computer-based training, student and trainer cannot personally interact to discuss these types of situations.
The records-management industry has changed over the years and will continue to do so. Record centers need a technology vendor that’s able to look one step ahead and has the expertise to help others do the same.
In planning and implementing a successful records-management software system, it is essential to receive training. An uneducated staff will cost you far more money (and legal risk) than you will spend to educate them. So whether you are training new employees or offering continuing education to those already on staff, it’s critical that you turn your record-center business into a place of learning.
Christine Spisto is the marketing communications/public relations director for O’Neil Software. For more than 25 years, the company has provided software and hardware solutions for more than 850 record centers in more than 65 countries, ranging from startups to multi-nationals. For more information, visit www.oneilsoft.com.