Many organisations neglect the business computer training which would enable employees to use IT effectively. Software and computer training can be the missing piece of a company's IT strategy.
Why computer training?
Training helps you make the most of your investment in IT. Having employees who know how to do things properly will make your company more efficient, cutting business IT support costs and streamlining business processes.
Additionally, the right software training can reduce frustration amongst your staff. There's nothing worse than wrestling with a computer to make it do what you want – especially when it might only take a brief training session to learn how to do it.
The benefits of computer and software training do need to be weighed up against the costs, but most companies will benefit from some formal business computer training.
On the job computer training
Many companies use on the job computer training almost exclusively. Although encouraging employees to pass knowledge on to each other is important, putting too much faith in on the job training can result in bad practices becoming entrenched in your business.
Besides, without a formal structure it's hard to be certain your employees are getting training that will improve their IT skills and benefit your business.
Hardware and software training needs
The best way to assess your computer training requirements is to run a training needs analysis.
Ask your staff what they need help with, and look at how your business is performing. Are you using IT in a way that helps meet your business objectives? What are the weaknesses that appropriate computer training could help you overcome?
Once you have built up a picture of where any gaps lie, you can fill these with different types of training:
- Internal training. Knowledgeable staff in your business can train other employees. The only cost to this is the time it takes. It's useful for sharing knowledge after one employee has been on a training course.
- Public courses. Open to anyone, these are usually cheaper than having a trainer come in to your business, but you can't tailor the content of the training to your specific needs. A one-day public course could cost from £150.
- External trainers and consultants. These can visit your business to run tailored training. It may be expensive (£500 or more for a day), but can be cost-effective if lots of staff are attending. Your IT supplier or support company may be able to offer this kind of training at a discount.
- Self-training. Books, DVDs, CDs and websites can help you get to grips with your IT. These are cheap, but often best used as a refresher or to help staff who already have some knowledge.
- Online training. There is now a huge array of online courses covering all aspects of IT. They often cost less than £50 and staff can complete the course at work or at home at their own pace. Here are some good sources of online training.
You may be able to cut the cost of computer training by taking advantage of free training courses and grants.
You can search sources of training on the GOV.UK website.
Reviewing your computer training
Once your business has implemented some IT training, conduct regular training reviews to ensure you're spending your budget in the right places.
Get employees to assess the quality of courses they attend, and seek feedback on trainers who come into your business.
You should also review the effectiveness of the computer training. Are your employees now more comfortable using IT? Has the number of support issues dropped? Is your business performing more effectively as a result?
Remember that computer training is only effective when you give your staff the chance to practice and absorb what they learnt. This may cost you some time and money, but your whole company will benefit in the long run.