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5 tips to ensure your software training session is not a waste of time.

You may not need to write a term paper, or pull an all nighter studying for a final exam, once you've graduated, but ongoing learning remains a critical component to being successful on the job. According to the PewResearchCenter ["4. Skills and Training Needed to Compete in Today’s Economy." Pew Research Center's Social & Demographic Trends Project. N.p., 2016. Web. 08 Dec. 2016.] -

"There is a widespread feeling among U.S. adults that the workplace is evolving and they will have to continually update their skills and training in order to succeed in a career."

One of the biggest areas where continued training and regular enhancements to your existing skill set is vital is in technology. Soft Trac trains people regularly on how to use the software products that we sell. Our training takes a variety of forms, from shorter more targeted sessions, to higher level overviews to provide a broader understanding of the software. The training may be for new users of the system, or long time ones who need a refresher and are looking for a way to get more from their software. There are numerous reasons that people will seek out software training.

Recently, I completed some additional certifications for new software technology that we will be utilizing moving forward. As I went through my training, one thing that really resonated was the importance of following up the web based training sessions with practical, hands-on experience using the software. Without time spent accessing the software, and implementing what I have learned, the training will not ultimately be effective.

Here are five tips on things you can do after your training is finished to be sure your new found skills translate into being successful with the software:

  1. The training class that I took had a practical component that I had to complete to verify that I could implement the material I had learned. I could not get certified until this hands-on piece was done. This is a good starting point. It helps to show that you have a solid grasp of the material covered. Even if your training session doesn't officially incorporate a practical piece, you can follow up the training on your own by applying what you learned to be sure you understood everything correctly.
  2. Create a test environment, or if that is not possible, work through a few test scenarios where you can track and verify that the system works as expected. This is the time to start expanding on what you have learned and to continue to tweak things within the software so that they everything is setup and running the way you need for future success.
  3. Set aside time to play in your the software. Repetition and usage is key to becoming proficient. Make a point of spending at least some time every day working in the software. Even if you can only spare an hour, it will help to reinforce your training and keep you on track with the project. Letting days, weeks and months go by without implementing what you have learned will derail even the best of training sessions.
  4. Regroup and review your training, and focus on any areas with which you are still struggling. After you've spent time in the software, there may still be components where you feel less confident when using the system. Identify those weak spots, and go deeper with training in those areas. We all have those questions we got wrong on a test that maybe require a little bit more study. The same is true of implementing what you've learned after a training. There may be areas you need deepen your training on and retry a few times before you fully comprehend what you need.
  5. Revisit training regularly. One session will not teach you everything you need to know. It is a starting point and as you implement what you have learned, you will discover additional areas of training or learning that would be beneficial. Even if you have a phenomenal session and are up and going with the software in no time, there are always areas where we can learn more or improve our skills. Keep ongoing training a part of your regular routine. It can be anything from another formal training session, to reading up on the software through knowledgebase posts, user forums, and help files.

Training is critical to being successful with your software. We've written other blog posts on this topic. Here are a few previous blog posts to check out:

How Do You Value Training?

15 Important Components of a Successful Software Training Session

Q&A Time | Bancroft School talks about Soft Trac Customized Training

However you decide to get trained on your software tools, be sure to include regular, consistent hands-on time in addition to the training, so you can commit your learning to memory and become a wiz at the tools you need to be successful in your job.

Soft Trac is a woman-owned business and accomplished team of nonprofit software consultants. We believe in making nonprofits "do good" better. For more information on any of the topics discussed in this blog or to learn more about the software products and services we offer, please visit our CONTACT page.

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