21 Mar

Business User Enablement

Author: 
Time2Know

 

 Willingness to change is a strength even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.  
~ Jack Welch

This article is a precious part of the hybris Project Patterns series.

Adopting something new is a very personal experience – because everything new requires us to change and adapt. Introducing a new process or software in a company, requires internal buying in order for that “thing” to survive, thrive and prosper. After the initial commitment of implementing an innovative hybris solution, comes a moment of having it and dealing with it. The post-acquisition experience depends very much on our readiness to possess and utilize the software.

A hybris training is a good start, but is insufficient for the final enablement, because a project has a decent level of customizations and adaptations of the default platform. Therefore, a project requires a dedicated approach for adopting the final solution.

Problem

Frequently project plans fail to cater for end-user enablement and forget to consider certain aspects like proper Education and Knowledge preservation.

Guideline

The goal is to transfer the knowledge from the project team to the Business Users, becuse the latter will exploit the new solution. For that, consider creating suitable User Documentation and Targeted Roll-out Training.

Related patterns

Client, Virtual Product, Workshop, Domain Methodology, Software Methodology, Glossary, Requirements Gathering, System Actor Inventory

 

It is common that the initial phases of the project start with the discovery of the ultimate beneficiary of the system – the end-consumers, the Company’s partners, the internal staff or the off-shored Customer Support.

That is why Persona discovery, Actor identification and User profiling are all techniques, which are widely adopted.

It seems all project practices strive for creating User-driven solutions, but somehow many hybris projects forget to complement the overall delivery with decent User Documentation and Targeted Roll-out Training.

We had a Client once, who in his honesty exclaimed:

 Well, you’ve created for us that very expensive software, but now … nobody knows how to use it.

And this statement led us think: the final goal of the project is not the creation of the software itself, but its adoption in the organization. For which, we need to pay attention and offer a vigilant approach.

This is what we call the “User Enablement”.

Soon after that case, we adapted our project offering to include the end-user enablement as a mandatory element of our delivery. As of that moment, no project would be handed over to the Business without proper End-User documentation, Knowledge transfer and future education plan. 

 

Actually, it is the outcome of the User Enablement program that defines if we have passed the hardest test, namely: to satisfy the key beneficiaries of the system – the Consumers and the Business Users.

Then, succeeding in adopting the solution becomes a key measure whether we have reached the ultimate business goal.

User Guides

One of the main deliverables, which makes the User Enablement possible, is the User Guide. The purpose of this document is to allow business users to utilize the system as it is intended to be used. Such delivery would cover all functional aspects of the system from a process- and data-management point of view.

Even though the information presented in the User Guides looks similar to the requirements specifications, creating an End User Guide demands a different know-how than a Business Analyst skill.

A Guide is an educational document, which involves a didactical approach towards presenting the information and a structure to enable people learn efficiently. Thus, the Guide can use requirements specifications as input, but it has own objectives and target audience.

Therefore, this sort of documentation is normally created by a person skilled in Information Architecture and Knowledge Transfer – a Copywriter or a Trainer, for example.

 

A User Guide offers a structure, which is easy to comprehend for the less-technical Business User. To achieve the maximum comprehension ensure that the document features two essential elements: Concepts and How to’s.

The Concepts sections are used to set the context of the information presented. They would provide the knowledge about the “Why” and the “What” in the project, thus setting the right expectations. The Concepts is the place to:

  • Introduce the goal of the project
  • Recognize the key users of the new solution
  • Present what Data Management and e-Commerce means for the company
  • Illustrate the high-level system architecture
  • Provide a brief introduction to core hybris concepts
  • Introduce most important terms
  • And so on...

Use the How To sections to provide A-to-Z guidance of how to complete certain business tasks. How To’s would answer the questions about “Who?” and “How?”, For example:

  • How a Product Manager creates a product?
  • How a Content Editor approves a page?
  • How a Campaign Coordinator launches a global campaign in country X?
  • How to trigger an import of data?
  • etc.

The construction of the User Guide depends heavily on previous project artifacts:

   

 

I have observed a great deal of hybris projects where the design of the User Guide starts “from scratch”, meaning without prior consulting with existing sources of information.

To start in this fashion, would be a long process, which makes the whole creation a useless discovery exercise and a waste of time.

The User Guide should be a direct derivative from other project artifacts like User Stories or Use Cases, Test scenarios and Business process specifications.

 

How to produce the User Guide with a less effort?

  1. Start with the organization of the User Guide. 
  2. Next, design and compose your Concept sections. 
  3. Further, outline and write your How To sections. 
  4. Finally, do not forget to equip your deliverable with relevant appendixes, which can contain, among other things, sample data, detailed examples, informational tables, product specifications, metrics and units of measure, even the project Glossary.

~ You can read about the details of each step in the online book "hybris Project Patterns", chapter "End User Enablement".


In terms of proper targeting, it is common to have more than one User Guide. The rational behind is the fact that you have different user profiles that need to be addressed. Often, their business activities are so different and polymorphic that it is even discouraging to have only one Guide.

Depending on the project setup, you may consider creating dedicated User Guides, for example “Administrator User Guide”, “B2B Partner’s Guide”, “Customer Service Agent Guide”, etc.

 

The User Guide should serve as a hub of all project knowledge from a Business User point-of-view. Other project artifacts will use this information as main input, for example, on-boarding programs, training courses, partner enablement, and so on. 

Business User Education

The second most valuable instrument for enabling business users is the User Education strategy.

Writing documents and giving them to people would not achieve the maximum desired effect of adopting the new solution. The modern system users are somewhat lazy and prefer to be entertained rather than to read the next volume of the software’s User Guide. 

A proven way to transfer knowledge with notable results is the existence of an Education program. Education has been identified as high priority for the strategic growth of the many successful companies. Therefore, it is not surprising that known Education Methodologies are employed when it comes to enabling corporate Business Users in using hybris solutions.

Education is a process of defining measurable structured knowledge. It involves a vision, a strategy and proper mentoring. On the other hand, a Training is an individual step in the overall Education process, achieving a single learning goal or a trajectory of learning goals.

Thus, when you discuss with the Business Client the enablement of corporate users, make sure you explain the difference, namely:

Training will achieve individual learning goals, while Education will bring care and structure with long-lasting results.

Companies who understand this difference invest in a Corporate Learning Process. The result can be observed in their ever-growing healthy financial scores and motivated employees.

 

Each training is useful if it contains three learning elements: theory, practice and assessment questions. Theory is used to build knowledge. Practical exercises – to develop skills. Assessment questions provide a measurement of how much the material has been absorbed.

Training events should be identified and scheduled via a Training Plan document. The latter represents a related set of training courses, which define a path for professional growth for an individual, a department or a company.

To optimize the production of the Training deliverables, use the User Guide as an input:

   

 

Thus, when you discuss with the Business Client the enablement of corporate users, make sure you explain the difference, namely:

Training will achieve individual learning goals, while Education will bring care and structure with long-lasting results.

Companies who understand this difference invest in a Corporate Learning Process. The result can be observed in their ever-growing healthy financial scores and motivated employees.

 

Having this relationship in mind, one can adopt a solid action-plan for preparing a useful Education program. Ensure that you have aTraining plan, which clearly identifies elements like Target Audience (WHO), Learning objectives (WHY), Expected deliverables (WHAT), Training Method (HOW), Duration (HOW LONG), Time (WHEN) and Place (WHERE). As a result of the Training plan, produce the Training course material.


~ Discover the step-by-step approach of creating a Trainig Plan and Courses in the online book "hybris Project Patterns", chapter "End User Enablement".


Bridging the knowledge gap between the requirements and the training is essential for the success of this process. So, ideally, consider having a Business Analyst with a Training background to fulfill this important didactical task.

 

User Enablement Organization

The User Enablement must be supported by a suitable project structure.

Important to note is that an Education Process is not only about a Training plan and a couple of Training courses. It is a global Corporate activity, with three core dimensions shaping the Education Process. The division is based on the fact that the three uniformly represent a complete process, but can be independent with own supporting processes and deliverables.

Organization: Represents the corporate unit, which fulfills and coordinates all training efforts, defines learning strategies, controls budgets and identifies education artifacts. It includes a Core Education Team, Trainers and Employees, engaged in learning.

Sourcing and Production: Defines various facets of sourcing, finding and manufacturing training materials (courseware). Both Sourcing and Production are driven by knowledge needs (corporate, departmental, and individual) and ensure the provision of right content for the appointed target audience. Sourcing relies on external parties to provide and deliver content, while Production outlines tasks of creating own materials.

Delivery and Evaluation: Defines the activities and artifacts related to Training Execution and Post Training tasks. While Delivery makes sure the education goals are carefully met, the Evaluation makes sure we monitor and improve the process.

When discussing User Enablement with the responsible business representative, I usually outline the complete picture about the relationship of user documentation and education, inluding the whole business organization behind them.

This way, the business representative can take an informed decision about the scope of the deliverables, their format and their own involvement as contributors.

 

Online User Enablement

Modern organizations work more and more with distributed and remote teams. This setup frequently demands a different strategy when it comes to User Enablement.

The Training plan should cater for various methods of delivering the information, such as on-site training, blended learning, online media, self-study or a balanced combination of those. 

Speaking about “entertaining”, in the last years, I have repeatedly introduced e-Learning programs, as a strong alternative of the traditional Instructor-Led training methods.

To recall, e-Learning is defined as all forms of electronic supported learning and teaching, which aim to build up knowledge with reference to individual experience, practice and awareness of the learner.

As seen, rolling out a business idea or adopting commercial software deserves careful planning and guidance. Companies could leverage this process with a consistent message to every employee, partner or customer - anywhere, anytime, online!

Employing online educational modules increases the visibility over the added value of the project investments. E-Learning would allow the adoption of commercial solutions easier, faster and prominent, thus ensuring uniformity, multilingual support and … entertainment.

Recently, for a multi-national B2B hybris project we built a couple of e-Learning modules aimed to serve 3,500+ dealers and their users in 5 languages. It was estimated that with the aid of e-Learning media, the company has been able to save more than 150k Euros in travel, accommodation and training costs.

 

In summary

End-User Enablement is an important factor for the overall project success-rate. Only educated Business Users can utilize properly the final solution and, hence, raise the return on the corporate investment.

In order to reach this, ensure that your project facilitates the creation of User Guides, onsite Trainings and e-Learning programs. You can achieve this through a careful User Enablement strategy and an Education process.

Remember, these two activities are also fundamental rudiments of the Business’ Change Management program. They are the prerequisite for a successful adoption of the new software. 


~ Read the full article in the online book "hybris Project Patterns, "chapter "End User Enablement".

 
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