One of the most challenging time periods of new product development is when things start taking off. Customers like the product and the demand begins to sky rocket. Product champions must figure out how to quickly scale up their operations and subsequently their staff. In an ideal world, Human Resources would spear head the hiring and training initiatives and feed the development team product ninjas on a weekly basis. If that is not the world you live in (like me), then you need to be able to develop a training program and deploy it quickly with little or no budget. No problem!
Where to start?
My guess is that if you are finding yourself in this position you have already done a good job marketing and selling your product. The material generated for those efforts can be repurposed to serve as the foundation for your new training program. If the purpose of technical marketing material is to educate potential customers on a product, then that material can serve equally well to educate new team members.
Taking the next step
Once you have gathered together all of your marketing material, open your favorite program for creating presentations (PowerPoint, Prezi, or Keynote). Presentations are a great way to capture version one of your training curriculum. Instead of trying to write the book, you can capture your thoughts using more of a note style method. Put a couple pictures in your slides and you’re off to the races.
I would recommend taking the time to create as many of these presentations as possible. Think about every question a new team member might have about your product. Go back to your process flow diagram and think about how you might communicate your work flow.
Create some training videos
I am guessing you might be thinking, “I don’t have the budget, abilities, know how, or time to make training videos!” That is what I thought too. I even went so far as to get quotes from some video editing companies in town (they were not cheap).
Then I discovered Snagit (click here). It is a video editing software program that is easy to use and has lots of great functionality. In less than an hour I can create a thirty minute training video, edit it, and publish it to YouTube. Here is the process:
- Hit the big red button.
- Drag a window across the presentation on your screen.
- Press the record button.
- Start presenting (you have to have a microphone for this step).
- If you make any mistakes, don’t worry about it. You can cut out any part of the video you want during editing.
- Hit the stop button and instantly go into editing mode. Cut out any mistakes, and then publish directly to your YouTube channel right there in the editor.
You have now successfully created your first training lesson. Go ahead and record any other videos you might need to complete your curriculum.
One of the coolest things you get out of this project is a ton of great content. Remember that we started out with marketing content that we transformed into a training program. Now the situation has reversed itself. Your expanded training curriculum can be re-purposed for marketing content. Think video blog, customer webinars, technical white papers, etc. All of this content can now be provided to your customers.
You will also realize many internal benefits besides just being able to train new staff members. When existing team members run into a question, they now have a great resource to refer back to. You have also created standard operating procedures which can be used as the basis for future work control systems. This will help you reduce product variation and lower operating expenses.
A couple of last pointers
Like any new project, when you start out the task can seem insurmountable. Take it slow and keep chipping away at it one piece at a time. Don’t get ahead of yourself and spend a lot of time thinking about the secondary benefits. Focus on creating the training piece for your future team members and remember that the material you produce will stay internal until you decide otherwise. Once you decide to use the content for external purposes, you can perfect it at that time.
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Thanks for reading!