In the previous CAD Manager’s Corner posts, we’ve talked about everything you need to do to get ready for implementing BricsCAD, but we haven’t talked about support.
But wait a minute, isn’t support something we should worry about after implementation? Well yes, but no! The time to worry about supporting your users is before the need for it becomes critical. That way when users really need support, you’ll be ready rather than scrambling. In this post, we’ll cover some best practices you can follow to manage the support process before and during implementation. Let’s see how.
If you can’t support users after training your implementation will suffer.
Now that you know BricsCAD will work and have your training planned, it is time to confront the following realities:
- Users will have questions after the training no matter what.
- There is only so much “you” to provide support to everyone.
- If you can’t support users after training your implementation will suffer. To deal with these issues I’ve found that the following actions can be taken before user training occurs:
Be prepared to release very short “cheat sheet” documents that answer user questions. For instance, if several people ask, “Which ribbon panel was it that had the hatch editing features on it?” you can push out a PDF file with the answer and a few screen captures very quickly. You could have a basic document template prepared in advance for just this purpose.
Arrange for test pilot support right after training. In a prior post, we discussed the idea of creating test pilot users to help optimize and configure BricsCAD. These test pilots know almost everything about BricsCAD now so they will be the ultimate people to help support other users. Leverage your test pilots as you train the staff and the burden of support will be spread among several people, not just you.
Understand that no support is not an option. If you train users on a new piece of software then have no support to help them during the crucial first few days, they’ll lose patience, complain to their boss, and not be as productive as normal. None of those outcomes are good so be sure the senior management at your company understands that providing support right after training is crucial.
Maximize Support via Smart Training/Rollout
Ask yourself the following question: How can you roll out new software gradually so you’re not overwhelmed by the support demands that too many new users would create? The answer is to phase in the software project by project, to build proficiency as quickly as your company’s workload allows you to. Let’s dig into some concepts for identifying your strategy.
Use new projects as a training guide. How many new projects does your company start per year? I’ve found that training is best conducted when a project starts up so that new methods and concepts can be introduced with a fresh start. This is a much better approach than trying to change software during a project.
Give users a rough timeline. If you have an idea when new projects will begin, and which users will be included in those projects, be sure to communicate that information to them (and their managers). The idea is to never surprise anyone.
Make sure work begins right after training. If a new project is to begin on Tuesday then training should be on Tuesday. Ideally, the training should be on Tuesday morning with project work starting Tuesday afternoon.
Don’t give users any time to forget what they learned in training – get them started right away!
Right size your classes. If a new project begins on Tuesday with a group of 12 employees working on the project then your training class should contain only those 12. Never spend time training someone who won’t use the software right away – that’s simply a waste of time and money.
Plan for a support pause. Know that demand for support will be high right after training so plan on extra support time right after any group goes through training. Be sure to wait a few days for new users to “settle in” before training the next new group.
Of course, you may not be able to control when new projects start but the more you think about the above variables the better your rollout and training support will be because you’ll be training the right people at the right time with great support.
It’s Go Time!
As soon as you train your first group on BricsCAD and embark on the first project, you’ll need to manage the experience and deal with problems as they arise. To best deal with any issues that do arise it is key that you not only solve the issues, but that you communicate the solution and improve your processes so the software implementation will get better.
The following steps can help you manage the process most effectively:
Inform users. Issue a brief email and/or printed “cheat sheet” document with any updates, tips, tricks, or new procedures that can help users solve any issues that arise. Don’t rely on just relaying new information verbally – make sure users have some sort of written information they can refer to.
Update standards. As new procedures or methods are introduced to update your standards to reflect the new methods. Think of this as formalizing the “cheat sheet” referenced above to become a standards document.
Walk around and check in with users – a lot! If you remain visible users are more likely to share anything that confuses them which gives you the chance to deal with issues early before user frustration grows.
Yes, I know you’d love to shut your office door and escape the questions, but I promise things will go better later if you spend time supporting users now.
Summing Up the Series
If it seems like there are a lot of tasks associated with implementing new software that’s because there really are! The good news is that, by using a solid plan that anticipates all the variables and issues you’ll encounter, you’ll be prepared for almost anything. My hope is that the issues we’ve covered in this series of posts will help you be a more successful CAD manager as you roll out your BricsCAD software.
Ready to try BricsCAD?
Easy to try, easy to buy, easy to own. That’s BricsCAD. Try all of our products, for free for 30 days at www.bricsys.com. Freedom of choice, plus perpetual (permanent) product licenses that work with all languages, in all places. You’ll love what we’ve built for you with the BricsCAD V21 product family.
More CAD Managers’ Corner Stories
- Network Installation Mechanics – Part 1
- Network Installation Mechanics – Part 2
- LISP Concepts for Easy Migration
- Minimum Training for Maximum Learning– Part 1
- Minimum Training for Maximum Learning – Part 2
- Three Steps to BricsCAD Adoption
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 1
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 2
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 3: The Proving Ground
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 4: Training Materials
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 5: Remote Training Tips
- Preparing for Implementation – Part 6: Rollout and Support