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Equipping End Users with the Tools They Need

If all you know how to use is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

End users can be quite resourceful with programs they know, even if that program isn’t built to serve the task at hand. Square peg, round hole? That won’t stop them from trying to make it fit. We’ve all heard stories like these before:

Earlier today, I found out that one of our teams intended on using Excel as a file repository, inserting miscellaneous files (PDFs, jpegs, etc.) as objects into an Excel document per project. The more logical location would be our ERP system, but they seem to think that the ERP is too complex.”

“I once had a client that used Excel as their CRM. They relied on hundreds of links to other spreadsheets and one of the master templates had 15 million rows. Once opened, that document would take up over 1GB of RAM. Users.”

In the first example, let’s give the users the benefit of the doubt and assume that the underlying cause of non-compliance is an innocent lack of understanding. Maybe there wasn’t training on the ERP system during the new team lead’s orientation. Maybe the main project manager was out of office during the original “mandatory” training and never learned the system. For whatever reason (excuse) they may have, the problem remains: users use what users know.

Most will resist using a new program until they truly understand it, falling back on their old standbys that they can make work “well enough” to consider the job done. So, as a professional problem fixer (aka IT), how can you make sure end users are equipped with the tools they need, making them – therefore you – more efficient?

Get everybody on board

It’s not enough to simply turn on Office 365 and provide employees with access. If you want them to adopt the programs (and you do – more on that in a minute), it hinges on training, which can (and should) occur in many ways, many times, forever and ever. You may be thinking, “Not my job. HR trains people. My team has better things to be doing with their time.” And you’re right – your team does. But HR will never know the programs like you do, and whether you invest the time up front in training or you spend it on support tickets due to improperly trained employees in the future – the time will be spent, guaranteed.

Understand your internal clients

IT has it rough sometimes. A lot of what you do goes unnoticed, at least until someone’s locked out of email and your phone is suddenly ringing off the hook. And there’s no shortage of “Wikipedia-trained experts” who are all too quick to tell you why something doesn’t work. However, training is an opportunity for IT to build relationships with other teams and act as the leader in guiding your company into the new digital age. A variety of internal clients bring different program needs and use cases. Finance and Marketing may both use Excel but in completely different ways, yet both equally critical to carrying out their job functions. Understanding these department-specific use cases allows you to customize training so that the answer to the ever-important question of “how does this affect me?” truly resonates with users.

Pro Tip!

Get in your users’ shoes. Assume zero prior knowledge of the program and show them ways to use it that will impact them directly.

One of the best assets you can have on your side is a champion. These folks are generally comfortable with technology, tend to be curious in nature, and aren’t afraid of the unknown. Find them, groom them to be your advocates on their teams, and make them your “patient zero.” Before you know it, their preference for OneNote over Word when they’re sharing a working document will have spread to the rest of their team and you’ve suddenly created a (very productive and efficient) Office 365-loving group.

Pat yourself on the back

By ensuring that your end users fully adopt the entire set of Office 365 programs, you’ve not only created more efficient, productive employees – hello, business win – but remember when you were the one to advocate for the move to the platform? Well, you can show your CEO that through 100% adoption, you’ve increased the ROI on that purchase and once again proved the value of the IT team.

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