Technology Training: Why We're In Hell - InformationWeek

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IT Leadership // IT Strategy
Commentary
12/19/2014
08:36 AM
Grumpy IT Guy
Grumpy IT Guy
Commentary
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Technology Training: Why We're In Hell

Is the problem the death-by-PowerPoint training that everyone hates? Or that our enterprise apps look worse than Keith Richards with a hangover?

10 Holiday Party Attire Atrocities
10 Holiday Party Attire Atrocities
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

I will cut to the chase. It is going to be 2015 in a few weeks. We are not even close to the "turn of the century." That was 15 years ago. Why are we wasting time and money this far into the 21st century "training" people to use Captain Obvious IT applications?

The source of my grumpiness: a slight change in ERP has created organizational histrionics. Train! Now! Touch every single one of BigCorp's users!

Why? Do we maybe have a problem with change? Sure, we used to have to teach people how to hold a mouse. But have we forgotten that we don't (or shouldn't?) hire people without computer literacy nowadays? If you cannot navigate the boxes of our ERP, maybe you somehow passed our HR "quality" hiring process by mistake.

[He said what??? See Crazy Tech CEO Quotes: 2014 Edition.]

Or maybe you dropped through a wormhole from 1995 and are having trouble adjusting to the 21st century. Quick! Where's the time machine? It would be easier to return you to the 90s than train you!

Either way, maybe you don't need to work here if we need to give you an hour or two of training every time the ERP gets updated.

Or maybe our apps suck.

Actually, they do. Some of our apps do suck. I will give you that. For instance, nobody is grumpier than I am about how bad the usability of our ERP is. Talk about a back-to-the-future moment: Our ERP requires Internet Explorer 7 and uses OCX technology. Right on, 1990s guy or gal! And it is very clear that some kind of screen scraping of a COBOL mainframe app was used to design the "Native Web App" that we now "enjoy."

So I guess apps are not completely off the hook.

Nobody seems to need to get trained on Amazon. Nobody needs to learn the Googles. My elderly parents seem to do OK with Facebook and their iPhones. Even an alien would probably be able to use Twitter. Well, maybe.

(Image: Matthew Simmons/Wikipedia)
(Image: Matthew Simmons/Wikipedia)

But this much is true. Not every app at our organization is as bad as the ERP. Some of them are pretty intuitive. And we still train people, put them through agonizing death-by-PowerPoint, and put together sloppy screenshots with arrows and circles that somehow assume that these arrows and circles communicate something more than "Kill me now before I have to train someone else in completely stupid-simple software and waste me entire day while people more or less ignore me!"

It is a waste.

If all corporate apps became as obvious and easy to use as Amazon or Google, maybe we could start to do something productive instead of sitting in corporate training, pretending to listen while Facebooking. If we could put 1,000 or 10,000 hours into making corporate IT as easy to use as an iPhone app, instead of costing the company 100,000 hours of wasteful employee training that doesn't actually need to be done for sentient humans in 2015, maybe we'd get somewhere.

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Grumpy IT Guy avoided historic disasters and clueless people while working his way up the IT ranks, but he retained his keen sense of humor. He now leads an IT organization somewhere in America, as part of the FBI's Grump Protection Program. Need advice? Send questions to ... View Full Bio
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PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2014 | 10:19:43 AM
Re: No amount of PowerPoint will save you
With all these talk about usability and easy of use. There still many companies that seem to ignore this when desining their applications.  Specially, the applications that are crucial to a business process
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
12/22/2014 | 8:55:53 AM
No amount of PowerPoint will save you
No amount of PowerPoint will make a crappy corporate app better. That also goes for cheerful infographics with circles and arrows explaining how easy to use it is.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2014 | 7:25:44 AM
Re: Too true
If I had an inventory control system that was was easy as Amazon I think I'd spend half my day asking if I had died and this was IT heaven.  I like the concept of making things easy but sadly even those easy things trip people up when they actually have to do things with it.  Sure you can tell someone to "buy something from Amazon" and they'll figure that out but tell them to buy something specific, in a specific color and get the best price without shipping overseas and the story changes.  Sometimes that complexity it built in because we don't work in such a simple environment.
Gigi3
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Gigi3,
User Rank: Ninja
12/22/2014 | 5:09:31 AM
Re: Too true
"If we have to provide training on our applications that we build and sell to our customers, then we missed the boat. If you know the business the process the application works with, you should be able to use the application to do the business process without much in the way of training."

Jaggibons, without proper customer education how they can understand its operation and functionality. I remember MS is conducting training (direct and through third parties)for their various products.
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
12/20/2014 | 2:45:50 AM
Re: You have a training budget?
If a task needs to be completed then all that is needed is the application and Youtube. In an enterprise setting, if the app has a decent amount of scale/users then, plenty of documentation and videos exist for it as well. Training here is dependent on the employee's desire to complete a certain task using a certain application, and the apps that require training are often times so complex that training becomes an on-going process -- one that a 1-hour training session cannot replace.
TerryB
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0%
TerryB,
User Rank: Ninja
12/19/2014 | 1:09:22 PM
You have a training budget?
That right there qualifies you for Company of the Year. I'm impressed.

But I'm with you, any training that involves someone reading a Powerpoint to you in the training session makes me about as grumpy as anyone can get. Especially when more work went into the branding of the Powerpoint slide show than the actual content they are training on.
jagibbons
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50%
jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
12/19/2014 | 11:18:00 AM
Too true
If we have to provide training on our applications that we build and sell to our customers, then we missed the boat. If you know the business the process the application works with, you should be able to use the application to do the business process without much in the way of training.
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