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What’s the Best Way to Train New Intranet Users?

Intranet new user trainingAn intranet manager recently posted an excellent question in our LinkedIn group:

What’s the best way to train new intranet users?

This question led to a good discussion on different ways of inducting new employees into the intranet.

Below are the different training methods different companies are using, and the pro’s and con’s of each.

Live, face-to-face training

This is a fast and efficient way to get everybody up to speed if the intranet is new to all staff. For example, if you’re just launching your intranet, or have recently replaced it with a new one.

Pros:

  • Can train a large number at the same time
  • Get feedback and questions from staff in real time

Cons:

  • Requires a properly set-up training room
  • Need to find a common time and venue for participants
  • Time and energy consuming
  • Not practical for large organizations

Live, web-based training

This training is done via WebEx, GoToWebinar, Google Hangouts, and similar web conferencing tools.

Pros:

  • Can train a large number at the same time
  • Get feedback and questions from staff in real time
  • Staff in different locations can participate
  • Can be recorded and used for future training

Cons:

  • Requires web conferencing tool
  • Need to find a common time and venue for participants
  • Time and energy consuming

User’s manual

This used to be the traditional way people learned how to use software. However, it’s becoming less popular as other tools become available.

Pros:

  • Readily available when needed
  • Familiar to staff
  • No technology needed – employees can read it even if there’s a power outage!

Cons:

  • Cost of producing and distributing the manual
  • No immediate feedback from users

Tutorial videos

Video is now the most popular medium for software training, including teaching users how to navigate and make the most of the intranet.

Pros:

  • Leverages training efforts
  • Available to staff on demand

Cons:

  • Requires screen capture software, such as Screenflow, Camtasia, and Captivate
  • No immediate feedback from users

Knowledge base

Some companies are creating self-help areas where users can hopefully find what they need on their own. The knowledge base contains a forum where users can submit their questions, and intranet managers can post answers. Everything is archived and searchable. It should also include all the other training materials already mentioned above.

Pros:

  • Leverages staff knowledge
  • Promotes user independence and reduces need to respond to commonly asked questions

Cons:

  • Need a platform to house the knowledge base (Hint: Your intranet is the best place for this!)
  • Forum requires moderation and monitoring

Rolling follow-up sessions

No matter how good the training, intranet users will forget. Follow-up training sessions are a good way to refresh their skills and introduce new intranet features. You can do these sessions either face-to-face or through web conferencing.

Pros:

  • Keeps users interested in the intranet
  • Excellent way to refresh employees’ memory
  • Helps intranet manager keep their finger on the pulse of users

Cons:

  • Time consuming

What’s The Best Way?

The best way to train new intranet users depends on the size of your organization, the resources you have available, and how complicated your intranet is.

In the end, you’ll find yourself using a combination of the strategies mentioned in this post. The only piece of advice I’d like to give is: leverage whatever you’re doing. Record training sessions and have them transcribed so your efforts will continue to serve the users long after the training is over.