It always pains me to see a company’s investment in software go to waste. I have seen some very expensive software just “sit of the shelf and collect dust” because staff are either unaware of its existence or have no idea what it does, or how it can be used. As a technical trainer, I have always made it one of my primary responsibilities to make sure that staff are aware of the tools that are available to them and also how the tools can be used to make their work lives better. This short article features some of the activities and attitudes that I have used in the past to help increase awareness and adoption of software at companies where I have worked.
I have found Lunch & Learns to be one of the most effective activities to introduce a large group of people to a new or unknown software product – especially when I was the one supplying the lunch. At a non-profit that I work for years ago, I was lucky enough to have a modest food budget that afforded me the ability to provide some very tasty (but inexpensive) lunches at my presentations. My sessions were always sold out. I believe it was the food that first attracted my audience, but it was the content that kept them coming back – at least that what I wanted to believe.
My “template” was the same every time – 1) to understand the software, 2) to understand the pain points of my audience, and 3) to offer example solutions. I rarely ever demonstrated the “how to” aspects of the software, unless it was to show “how easy” it was to use compared to a current product. More often I chose to focus on the “why to” aspects of software, answering the question “What can this software do for me?”
I also made it my business to understand the business of my co-workers. I would often scan the signup list and gather intelligence about my audience – what were their job responsibilities, what tools did they use, how did they work, and who did they work with? Empowered with that knowledge, I was able to craft relevant and timely examples in my presentations that would “speak directly” to my audience. After the lunch & learn ended, I would often have conversations like “I am dealing with that exact issue right now and that software seems like it will really help me. Can we meet later to talk about it?”
Using this template, I successfully introduced the concepts of automating processes with forms and workflows, creating stunning presentations using Prezi instead of PowerPoint, using OneNote for team collaboration, and much more. My efforts were positively recognized by IT leadership and always appreciated by my well informed – and well fed audience.