During my career, I’ve worked on a number of major software rollouts, including Vista and Sharepoint (at my current employer), two force-wide systems at a UK Police Force and numerous implementations of a bespoke search application during my employment at a tech startup.

Whenever a rollout occurs, it seems to me that the emphasis is placed on the testing, the stakeholder buy-in and other facets of the project that don’t involve the end users, who ultimately determine the success or failure of the system. It is essential that users receive adequate training and feel confident using the new system.

For anyone who is designing, delivering or managing the training side of a software rollout, there are a number of points to consider:

Cheat Sheet or Training Course?

If the rollout is a simple upgrade, for example, Office 2007 to Office 2010, then a series of Quick Reference Guides may be all that is required, outlining the differences between the old system and the new system. However, remember that not everyone learns in the same way and to you, what is a simple upgrade is a major change in working practices for somebody else.

Make the Rules Clear

Is the training mandatory? Do all users have to attend all courses or do they only need to attend the training that is relevant to their job role/use of the system? Can users attend the training at any time or should they attend just prior to them “going live”?

Make Use of Subject Matter Experts

As Software Trainers, to the end users, we might appear to be the experts, however, in many cases, there will be people who have more real-life practical experience, both in using the system and in the business processes that lie behind the system. I’m thinking specifically about the rollout that I worked on at The Police where the Project Team included a number of high profile Officers who were always on hand to offer advice.

Post Training Support

This is usually a given, however, if the Support Team is also the Training Team, ensure that expectations are set appropriately. If the Trainers are delivering courses 4 days a week, they’ll have a nice pile of “help me” emails awaiting them on their “admin day”. Ideally a large rollout should have a dedicated support team, but in these days of budget cuts, it doesn’t always work out that way.

Bear these points in mind and your rollout stands more chance of succeeding.