By: Tim Lenczowski, Sara Swiatlowski, Selena Fowler and Heather Todd
Recently, several members of the BrightVine team were engaged in a training project with a healthcare client who was moving from Blackbaud Raiser’s Edge™ to Blackbaud CRM™. The original plan was to be on-site for 5-weeks of training before their go-live.
Like everything else, those plans had to pivot when it became certain that no one would be traveling or meeting in person due to the pandemic. With end-users and trainers working from home, the plan shifted to conducting training for over 400 participants using Microsoft Teams. In addition to the original schedule of training sessions, additional training had to be developed to make sure everyone was familiar with the conferencing system prior to training. New strategies emerged to make the most of the training in a completely virtual environment.
With the training now completed, our team took some time to reflect on remote training programs. One thing that we all agree upon is that in-person training for substantial training like this is our preferred method but virtual training works well when it isn’t possible to be physically in the same room.
The Pros of Virtual Training:
The ability to change things on the fly for other training sessions. In some cases we could update other trainers quickly during a break between sessions because Microsoft Teams made it easy to connect, otherwise, an end of day debrief on Microsoft Teams proved to be very helpful. There’s nothing new about an end of day debrief, but the rigors of online training seemed to make those sessions even more useful, and certainly a great way to unwind and prepare for the next day
"Virtual" help is only a message away.
No matter how much planning you’ve done before training, there are always things that come up in a session. In a virtual training environment, if we noticed an example wasn’t set up or a business process question popped up that we didn’t anticipate, we could send a direct message to someone who could provide an answer later during the class.
The camera is your friend! Face to face interaction is sorely missed when you aren’t training in person but we found that turning on the camera, even if just at the start of class, helped to facilitate a better virtual relationship.
Virtual training allowed for scheduling flexibility
For the trainers, we were able to easily swap a training session with another trainer if needed. Since no one was traveling to be on site we were able to balance schedules so that everyone had a little bit of downtime each week instead of having to maximize time with someone while they were onsite.
We were able to set up follow-up sessions as needed for popular or tough topics.
As with everything there are pros and cons, in this post, we have concentrated on the positive aspects because the project was a great success and we confirmed that you really can teach that 400+ people remotely. In our next post, we'll discuss the challenges we faced and our tactics for overcoming those issues.
We’re all looking forward to this pandemic being over but as Kakuzo Okakaura said, “The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings”.