Learning New Software Blues
You know what? I hate reading software manuals, attending software training courses, and watching training videos as much…or even more…than you do! I can usually get away without doing any of that…with typical ‘consumer grade’ applications. It is an indisputable truism, however, that not all software can be made simple and intuitive enough so that a reasonably intelligent person can sit down and effectively use it without having to do any of these horrible horrible things :)
In Our Experience
We at DraftLogic Inc. have been working with new clients and with potential clients that are setting up pilot projects and trials of DraftLogic Electrical. Since what happens in the initial learning phase of the software determines whether implementation moves forward or not, we have learned some key factors that determine success or failure across all sites.
These key factors apply to all software that has a tough job to do. What do I mean by that? Well, typically speaking, the more complex and knowledge intensive the end product, the more complex the software to help users create a quality end product. For example, consider AutoCAD, Revit, and enterprise resource planning products. Each of these products requires a minimum base level of product knowledge before a user can be truly productive with them. Sure, someone with reasonable computer experience can sit down and draw some simple entities in AutoCAD, but you and I both know there is no way that someone without experience or training will be able to create professional quality output without some training!
So let’s dig into these keys to success that you can apply to almost any software built for complex tasks, using DraftLogic Electrical as our ‘case study’.
DraftLogic Electrical is going to make your design time both more enjoyable and more productive. It does this by automating boring, low skill, and error prone tasks; thus freeing up much more of your time to be able to concentrate on the important design decisions. You will finish your projects faster and even be able to deliver more value to the client in the shorter design time.
The Three Keys to Success
There are three key things that are all necessary to be successful with DraftLogic Electrical. If you can make these commitments, it is highly likely that you will be very successful with DraftLogic Electrical, i.e. your design productivity will, at a minimum, double and you will enjoy your design time more. The more of these commitments that are not met or are only partially met, the more likely it is that you will not be successful with DraftLogic Electrical and you will miss out on a great opportunity.
Firstly, your company must allocate you paid time during regular workdays to do the video training. The hours required in total are 20-24 if our tutorial school is used as the sample, up to approximately 30 hours if you select one of your projects to try things on. The video training must be completed in a span of no more than two weeks–any longer and you’ll forget the basics before you learn the other features! In our experience, it is also not going to work if the company asks a designer to learn DraftLogic Electrical ‘as they go’, ‘during lunch times’, or ‘at home in the evening/weekends’.
Secondly, you must go carefully through the entire training video series, pausing the videos often and trying each function on the tutorial school data.
Thirdly, you must not ‘spin your wheels’. We want you to have a positive learning and use experience, not get frustrated trying to figure something tricky out. Call for support when: there is a concept in the training videos that does not seem to make sense, a function does not work when you try them it the tutorial data, or there simply seems to be some instruction or information missing. Spend a few minutes reviewing the video, quickly check for information in the forums, and perhaps read the particular section for the function in question in the user manual…but other than that, pick up the phone and call 780-906-2888 for help. Spending a few minutes on the phone with us will save you many more minutes of frustration. We have noticed that some folks tend to email rather than call, please be aware that email might not get looked at for some number of minutes so it is always best to call if you have a question that needs to be answered in order for you to be able to continue.
I have two last suggestions. The first is for those trying to help clients learn their software–you need both the executives and the users to buy-in to the above to make the learning process work. The second is for those who have to learn any software built for a complex task–think of the end state of improved productivity with less effort that you will be in after training…that should help you to stay focused and gain maximum benefit from the training.
Happy Software Engineering,
Dean Whitford, CEO
PS: interested in seeing a sample video training program? Check ours out.