End-users are no longer as apprehensive as they once were about learning new applications. Most of them are fairly technologically knowledgeable, and they’re used to adopting new apps for personal use. For work, they usually want the newest, most efficient apps, and they want to start using them right away. Forget user manuals or online help: today’s end-user wants immediate functionality.
In some businesses, the IT service desk is taking on the role of training new users on the applications they use for work. Why would an already-busy IT service desk add to its demanding list of IT service management tasks for which it is responsible? In some situations, training by IT personnel benefits both the IT service desk and the end-user, and produces a better return on investment.
Benefit: Better Relationship Between the IT Service Desk and End-Users
When a member of the IT team learns an app and trains others on it, it encourages active, ongoing dialogue between the IT service desk and end-users, encouraging better collaboration between the two. Not only can the IT service desk pick up information that allows them to better help end-users, it can bridge what can be, in some organizations, a “them and us” mentality between IT and everyone else.
Furthermore, when tech specialists take over training on selected applications, they tend to learn the apps more thoroughly, including lesser-used features that end-users may never discover on their own and that could further boost productivity. The 80 / 20 rule tends to hold in app use, with 80% of end-users using 20% of an app’s functionality, but training by IT personnel can make the less obvious tools more accessible and usable to more people. The result is apps that are used more fully, and maximum productivity gains from the apps.
Benefit: Return on Investment
Like it or not, businesses no longer evaluate IT service management solely on its technical solutions. IT is expected to drive business value, and greater business value can come from end-users who are more fully trained on the applications they use every day. Some IT managers are including training as part of every end-user technology project that is rolled out, making training a fundamental component of having a new technology solution “installed.”
Follow-on end-user training can prevent a number of end-user inquiries to the IT service desk, and can make IT service desk workers better prepared for the inquiries that do arrive. Return on investment is maximized when end-users are comfortable using all functions in their work apps and know the IT service desk can answer their questions.
The IT and HR Partnership
Training isn’t traditionally a strong skill for those involved in IT service management, because a lot of IT functions are concerned with hands-on technical issue resolution. Partnering with human resources can help when IT service desk personnel are tasked with training end-users on new applications. This could be done by, for example, assigning an HR professional to IT to assist with developing training plans and materials and dealing with the administrative side of training (like getting people signed up and scheduling sessions). This way, IT is responsible primarily for subject matter rather than administration.
Management Buy-In Is Critical to Making It Work
If IT service management is enlarged in scope to include end-user training, buy-in of IT management is critical to making it work. IT management should, for example, develop a long term training “roadmap” that correlates to projected rollouts of new technology. IT management should also be involved in ensuring that workload is distributed fairly so that no particular person or group is overloaded and that the IT service desk can continue to provide high quality service.