The evolution of IT Training within Agile projects

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The evolution of IT Training within Agile projects

25 March 2019

The evolution of IT Training within Agile projects

As companies move towards Agile Project methodologies, they are seeing the benefits of having Training and Change work in conjunction with the project team from the beginning. I am currently working within agile IT and Asset Management project initiatives at a major Retailer. Through this unique experience I have noticed several differences and benefits of this agile approach from a training and project perspective:

Waterfall Agile

Training team brought in towards of the end of the project timeline.

Training resources brought in from the beginning/middle.

One large Training Needs Analysis (TNA) completed early in project timeline.

Smaller TNA’s completed per initiative and flexible to include change of scope.

Functional gap analysis of previous system to new system completed by client.

Conduct gap analysis of old system to new. Can establish what will change from end user perspective.

Relies heavily on process maps being finalised to help build training courses.

Participant in business process mapping workshops ‘as is’ to ‘to be’. Obtains greater level of understanding and knowledge.

Passive or no role in UAT.

Active role in UAT, ability to help design the test scripts, facilitate and support testing.

Not always time for a pilot of the system or pilot training course.

Time embedded in plan for pilot training and Pilot roll out to users to use system in real life.

Meet end users during training.

Exposure to teams prior to training. Able to spend time understand their current role how it will be changing.

Period of assisting in post go-live support.

Post pilot support which include end user feedback sessions. Assess what improvements we can make to the system and to training before next rollout.

 

Below is a more in-depth analysis of the key benefits I have seen during my current engagement:

Benefit 1: Greater project knowledge

When you’re standing in front of a group of eager end-users they view you as the fountain of all knowledge. Sometimes, the trainer is the first person they have spoken to about the new system implementation and they expect you to know it all. You need to know the business process, the organisational structure, the end user’s day job, the software, the how’s, the why’s, the meaning of life… the list goes on. Unfortunately, it’s impossible for the trainer to know everything and most notably, how a business came to make its decisions in the first place.

Working within an agile project means working in parallel with the project team. The beginning of a project a critical time where the scope is ever changing but you are fully aware of why these changes happen and the reasons for it.  Being embedded early on enables the trainer to provide a greater level of understanding to the end users.

Benefit 2: Time

To build and design quality, role specific training course requires time. Deadlines are tight – and they still are within sprint’s, but the difference is that a training course is built week by week in stages. These building blocks can be constructed with the similar approach to a sprint:

  1. Meet with stakeholders, become an active participant in scrum meetings, gather and share knowledge, capture ideas and document decisions.
  2. Plan the documents/materials you will build for the week.
  3. Design and Develop your materials.
  4. Test the system whilst documenting the steps, do you encounter any problems that you can share with the team?
  5. Evaluate, quality assure and assess whether the training documents/courses produced continue to be suitable for the audience.

This method ensures accurate and robust documents are produced, this also reduces the number of knowledges gathering sessions you may need with the SME’s.
 

Benefit 3: Pilots

Agile projects can incorporate time for pilot releases of the software to a small group of employees to use in real life scenarios. You can also pilot your training courses to assess what can be done better.

I recently completed a pilot course for employees who are out in the field. They travel and rarely have access to a laptop, this meant that a Learning Management System (LMS) was not a viable option for hosting training documents. Sending documents through email or printing out hard copies was also ineffective. From this evaluation, we came up with an alternative approach. We began sending short reference guides and instructional videos to their mobile devices. These documents can be viewed as pictures and videos, they can be saved to the camera roll and can be accessed anywhere. This turned out to be a far more successful way to support and encourage change. This approach allows to us to continuously improve the system, processes and how we train end users.

 

Benefit 4: Client Benefits

It is important to note that it is the end user’s adoption of a new system and processes that can prove if a roll out was successful or not. Deadlines and go-live dates can often take premise over assessing whether the delivered solution will improve what it was meant to in the first place. New systems are usually implemented to provide greater visibility, improve efficiency and ultimately reduce costs. However, these benefits can only be validated by an end user’s interpretation. As a trainer the end users are always at the forefront of your mind and reinforcing this notion from the start and bridging the gap between the workforce and the project team has been an essential and extremely fulfilling part of my role. These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg and I am excited to see what else I can learn from this agile journey and continuously improve the training approach as the initiatives progress.