OS rollouts hinge on user training

By Paula Jacobs, InfoWorld |  Operating Systems

ALL TOO OFTEN, when a company introduces new technology for its users, training
is simply tacked on as an afterthought. But unless your users are properly trained
first, don't expect Microsoft Windows 2000 or any other sophisticated technology to
work miracles.

"The slowest part of any computer is the user," says Peter Squier, president of the
ITTA (Information Technology Training Association) and senior vice president at
Productivity Point International, a training company in Austin, Texas. "If you want
optimal performance from your system, the best return you can get is by upgrading your

To that end, Mary Kay Giunta, vice president of technology training at Bank of
America, in Silver Spring, Md., usually begins preparations for training on a new
technology by looking for books in the library. Currently, Giunta is preparing training
programs for the company's forthcoming upgrade to Windows 2000.

"Even if a rollout is months away, we like to get stocked up on self-study items
for the bleeding-edge folks that are interested in beating the rush," Giunta says. This
approach, she says, provides learning resources for the technical staff responsible for
rolling out and supporting the new software so that the help desk is prepared to
actually help the users.

In terms of moving from its Microsoft Office 97 world to Office 2000, Bank of
America prepares its employees by first offering short "Why 2000?" user seminars that
cover the business benefits of migrating to a new technology and also give a quick
overview of new features. Then, standard instructor-led classes are timed to coincide
with the rollout.

Paul Lenk, IT director at Partners First, a credit card service company in
Baltimore, is in the midst of coordinating Windows 2000 training. His responsibilities
include overseeing the creation and implementation of training programs to satisfy end-
user needs. Lenk emphasizes that an effective training program should include these
four elements: truly understanding the end-users' needs, developing a training program
to meet those needs and constraints, executing the training program with expert
instructors or technology, and creating a feedback loop to assess completed training
and future needs.

Lenk plans to incorporate this training philosophy to help acclimate end-users to
Windows 2000, and he expects them to make an easy transition.

He believes that most of the training will be needed for those supporting the
operating system, which will require that IT staff be re-trained to use, administer,
manage, deploy, and support clients.

Consequently, Lenk advocates taking an inverted pyramid approach to training and
then rolling out the new technology.

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