There’s no doubt that job shop software can improve your shop’s efficiency, productivity, and overall profitability. However, just having the right software isn’t enough. You also need to make sure your team members are using it properly. Even the best software won’t produce results if your workers aren’t implementing it to its fullest capabilities.

Most software providers offer on-site training when the software is first installed. They may also offer multi-day training sessions at their home office. However, it’s very likely that some members of your team will need additional training. After all, you can’t send your entire team on a multi-day training trip. And many of your team members may not grasp all of the information after a quick, initial, on-site training session.virtual training speeds job shop software implementation

How do you provide on-going training for your team members? And how do you educate new employees on the software’s functionality? The answer is simple – virtual training.

Virtual training for job shop software is an important tool in making sure the employees who can most benefit from using your software can efficiently learn how to use it. It’s a great way to save time and target your training.

“Face-to-face instruction is preferred for key administrators, but not everyone needs to know everything about the software,” says Chris Field, Manager of Education Services for Shoptech. “You might have an employee who needs to be trained on only one aspect of the software – like an estimator or purchasing agent.”

Many software providers offer virtual training as a quick and convenient way to transfer information. With virtual training, your employees can get the information they need on their schedule and with little disruption to your shop’s workflow.

Here are just a few of the biggest benefits of using virtual training:

  • It’s convenient. Rather than miss a day or two of work to travel to off-site training, your workers can simply sit in front of a computer for an hour or two. They may have multiple scheduling options, so they can pick the time that best fits into your workflow. They quickly get the information they need and then get right back to work.
  • It’s customized. Some of your workers may only use the software in a very limited or specific capacity. For those workers, there’s little value in sitting through a comprehensive training session. They just need training on how to use the software to complete their tasks.
  • Virtual training sessions are usually broken down into small modules or mini-sessions. That means your workers can choose the topics that are most relevant to them, while avoiding topics that may have no relevance.
  • It’s cost-effective. There’s usually a fee associated with virtual training. However, that fee is usually a fraction of the cost of paying for your employees to travel to an off-site training session. Add in the lost productivity that comes with all-day training and it’s easy to see why virtual training is much less expensive.

Job shop software virtual training: what to look for

Most job shop software providers offer some form of virtual training. However, not all virtual trainings are created equal. You want virtual training that will engage your employees and will provide them with the practical skills they need to get the most out of the software.

As with live classroom training, true virtual training is synchronous, enabling participation by the trainee through valuable, live interaction with the instructor. Not to be confused, says Field, with on-demand training that consists of an internet-based library of pre-recorded content.

Field, who’s been training E2 customers for over 12 years, says the best virtual training includes access to a remote desktop, exercises, and plenty of hands-on interactivity. Some virtual training includes allowing customers to actually work with sample data to simulate real-life activity.

“There’s room for both kinds of online training and, of course, classroom training,” says Field. “You don’t have the luxury, nor is it necessary to send all your company’s employees to live classroom training at your software provider’s office. The key is using a combination that works best for your job shop.”

So, how do you know if a software provider’s virtual training offerings will meet that criteria? What do you look for?

Here are a few traits that are common among effective virtual training platforms:

  • It’s available on almost any device. When your employees are doing their training, you want them focused on the content. You don’t them wasting time trying to figure out how to work the computer. One way around that is to allow your workers to view the training on their own laptops, tablets, or devices. That way, they’ll already know how to work the device and can focus 100 percent on the course content. Make sure your provider’s training works across all devices.
  • Classrooms are small. You want maximum engagement during the training. Your employees should be able to ask questions and clarify points of confusion. That’s hard to do if there are hundreds of students in the training. The best providers offer lots of sessions with only a handful of students in each one.
  • The training is compact. Training sessions should be concise and focused. Software topics often require 90-120 minutes to adequately cover technical aspects, but regardless of the length of the session, pace and opportunity for interactivity enhance learning effectiveness. There should always be plenty of time allotted for questions and answers.
  • The instructors specialize in virtual environments. There’s a huge difference between teaching online versus teaching in-person. In live classrooms, the teacher can pick up on non-verbal communication and can make eye contact with the students. None of that is available in an online environment. It’s important that the instructors aren’t just taking an in-person course and relaying it online. The course – and the instruction – need to be tailored for online engagement.
  • The course is interactive. One of the biggest benefits of virtual training is the opportunity to see someone using the software in real time and possibly the ability to be interactive. However, that’s not possible if the training is simply a powerpoint presentation. Unfortunately, far too many providers go this route. Ask if you can demo a training module to see how interactive it is.

Virtual training can be a huge asset for your company. It can help you get your workers up-to-speed quickly and help with the onboarding of new employees. Most importantly, it can maximize the results you get from your software.

However, not just any training will do. When you’re shopping around for software, make sure you consider the training options. Having the right training can make all the difference in how much positive impact the software has on your business.