When Should Service Providers Focus on Product Training vs. Implementation Training?

By JaCoi JamesTraining

The first question you may be asking is “What’s the difference?” Well, it’s possible that the answer is “Not much” depending on how you run your service organization. For others, there’s a clear line. What IS the difference? Let’s explore this before diving into considerations for how you might handle each.

Product training is providing your clients an in-depth review of the system from log in to log out through use of various exercises with fictitious information. With product training, there is no fear factor in place where the client has potential to “break” something in the system. Implementation training is the real-world application of what was learned in product training.

Implementation training provides clients the ability to get their hands in the system twice (at a minimum) by loading their actual, live data within the system. Having clients enter their own data provides another learning experience for that client, further reinforcing the processes they’ve learned and executed. You know how the saying goes: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

When trying to determine the appropriate way to execute product training or implementation training, there are a couple of key factors to consider:

Is there a dedicated training team?

The first consideration to make is do you have a team within your organization focused solely on training? This will help you to determine if you have clearly defined roles, as well as the dedicated resources necessary to successfully train your clients. It’s possible that most people reading this will say they have several employees on their teams wearing multiple hats, and that one of those hats is training. If this sounds like your service organization, then having multiple people wearing multiple hats may have you combining product training and implementation training into one shot. By no means is this a bad thing. It simply lets you benchmark the present state of your implementation team against that of best-in-class service bureaus.

Are clients entering their own data?

Another consideration to make is do you allow your clients to do their own data entry of their company setup, process their own payrolls, approve timesheets, or manage their own HR functions? This too is very important to know because if you don’t allow your clients to touch the live data within setup or through the day-to-day processes, you may not have any need to provide two different types of training.

There is definitely a benefit in allowing your clients to learn the product with no live data, and then a second time around having a role in entering in their own live data. With clients getting a better understanding of the product from a holistic standpoint, they’re more likely to adopt it, and become power users more quickly.

It’s up to you to determine what you feel works best for your clients. You know them best. You know if you can trust them to handle some of the data entry without them compromising the setup and causing issues down the road that you’ll have to spend time fixing. Training is a vital piece of any client’s learning experience, and helps to cut down on their reliance on your support staff later on. It is only through trial and error that you can best make training, whether product or implementation specific, work for your team and your clients.

How does your service organization handle new client training? Feel free to share in the comments section below.

Happy training!

About JaCoi James:

JaCoi is the Internal Training Manager at Kronos SaaShr, and is responsible for managing a team of trainers who provide product configuration training for all internal employees and channel partners.

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