Project Post-Mortem

training manual

In my department, there are seven trainers and we produce our own training materials for the applications we teach to district employees. For each training guide we create, it is designed to be delivered within a two hour time frame. As new versions of the software applications come out each year, we go through a season of updating the training guides to reflect the latest updates. The process we initially chose is an extensive process that takes over two (3) months and begins with the Microsoft Office products. As a group, we begin by reviewing what we currently had in place from a beginner, intermediate and advanced level, then we look at the updates to determine where they would best fit. We list out every possible function that each Microsoft program is capable of, that includes Word, Excel PowerPoint, Publisher and Access. Then, using a district skills matrix that reflects a foundation of skills a district employee should have, we built our classes around those topics. For features that may be specialized and a need is determined through a needs analysis, we create a separate training guide that covers that particular function, such as how to create a mail merge using Word and Excel. Using a work breakdown structure, all of the topics for each application that must be created based upon a styles guide is listed out in detail and assigned to a trainer.

In reflection, I have considered this project to be both a success and a failure. The project was a success because we had an effective system in place. After a trainer was assigned to complete a version of a training guide, such as the beginner level of Access, the trainer would complete the topics for each section of that guide. Once completed, another trainer was assigned to review the sequential steps in the guide and check for errors. After reviewing, the training guide went back to the originating trainer to be updated. Once updated, another trainer would run through the guide to make sure the topics in the guide followed a logical order and made sense for the end user. After the run through, the guide was ready for a test run in a training session with students. The test run in a class helped us to determine if the topics fit within the timeframe for the session and if the skills covered were useful for the student. It was also helpful to have more eyes on the training guides to make sure we did not miss anything. After the updated guide was used in 1-3 sessions, the assigned trainer would have a verbal discussion with those that used the guide and make any changes that were needed. At this point, the guide was finalized and ready for district-wide distribution.

As you can see, the process for writing and reviewing one training guide can get extensive. Having seven trainers working on multiple guides at one time while also having to work on other daily assignments and service the general needs of district employees concerning various issues can get a little hectic. I consider the project a failure because even though we had a solid plan in place for how to create the best product we could, realistically we simply did not have the time or manpower to execute each task with precision. Often, while working on a training guide, the trainer did not have a chance to have someone review the guide before it was needed for an upcoming training session. During the session, if mistakes were noted in a class of 20, all of them would make it their duty to inform the trainer that the guide had mistakes. Trying to complete all of the steps in the process became very frustrating and in time, that process was abandoned. As time went on and the need to update our training guides was still a necessity, we decided to reduce the number of steps in the review process and focus on job specific skills. By looking at what our audience needed to learn for their particular job based upon a district survey, it allowed us to create sessions that focused on how to be more productive with specific applications and the need to create multiple beginner, intermediate and advanced level classes became unnecessary.

One thought on “Project Post-Mortem

  1. John

    I like your presentation of the success and failures of the training for updated software. Your response from a survey to address the needs and eliminate the extra work was a great idea in the efficient use of time.

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