IT investment must go beyond technology to focus on the people behind it

John Brett, Operations Director at Nexus Open Systems discusses the need to invest in end user training as part of any IT upgrade


In a technology driven world, it is widely accepted by most businesses that investment in modern IT infrastructure is essential. Whatever the sector, there appears to be a technology available that promises to enhance business performance and drive results however all too often organisations commit to investment in state-of-the-art technology but fail to see the dramatic returns they expect. IT projects are notorious for having a high failure rate with up to 70% reportedly failing to deliver expected results. Failure can be attributed, in part at least,  to lack of investment in training and poor user adoption.

Low Priority

Technology investment features heavily in modern business planning with Deloitte’s Digital Disruption Index reporting that 49% of executives plan to invest more than £10m in digital technologies by 2020. This huge figure demonstrates an obvious commitment to digital however with the same study also revealing that less than half (45%) of executives feel confident in their own ability to lead in a digital environment, the gap between technology advances and the confidence and skills of individuals to use it to its full potential proves an obvious problem. The issue then becomes one of heavy investment in technology that fails to produce promised results as users struggle to fully understand system potential. 

When considering any major project, budget often defines the parameters. Unfortunately, end user training is often an under-valued element being placed in the low priority category. The great irony is that the decision to save costs on training can actually drive the opposite effect by increasing overall costs in the long run. When faced with new, misunderstood technology, untrained users can easily become confused and frustrated with systems they don’t understand. This in turn increases the need to contact the provider helpdesk for technical support which can be a costly means for solving what should be straightforward trouble-shooting issues.

Investment in people drives productivity

There is no doubt that technology is advancing at an incredible rate, but it is also increasingly obvious that investment in the hardware and software alone just doesn’t go far enough to drive desired results. The importance of investing in people as well as systems is often unappreciated at board level. Failing to adequately train employees can have an irreversibly adverse effect on staff  morale and employee retention while also impacting ROI and business performance negatively.

The impact of investing in staff training cannot be underestimated. A report conducted by Udemy revealed that as many as 70% of full-time employees feel that training could help them learn to  focus and manage their time better.

Training users not only helps to ensure project success and increased user adoption, but it also serves to increase overall employee engagement as staff feel supported and empowered. A report conducted by IBM revealed 84% of employees in the best performing organisations receive the training they require. By contrast, the figure was just 16% in the worst performing companies. Untrained employees feel undervalued and unsupported which obviously affects their ability to carry out tasks but can also impact their morale and general commitment to the business. By investing in end user training from the outset, employees are armed with the necessary skills to maximise technology investment making them confident in their ability to use systems to their full capacity. Disillusioned employees who feel unsupported in their role are twelve times more likely to consider leaving a company. Although an upfront expense, end user training can have a dramatic effect on the long-term cost effectiveness of any IT project.  

Flexible options

Various training options are available to support technology investment and often the IT provider will offer training for some or all of the workforce as part of the project. Training options vary from online self-learning programmes to group and one-to-one instructor led classes and workshops. The first step should always be to fully evaluate the level of technical skill of employees and tailor training appropriately. Train-the-Trainer courses offer businesses the opportunity to train their own inhouse instructors to cascade information to a larger workforce. This gives businesses the option to build inhouse expertise in order to support other team members when problems arise and can dramatically reduce the need to contact the provider helpdesk with trouble-shooting issues.

Effective initial and ongoing training that supports the needs of employees can transform work practices, increasing user adoption and confidence. The only way to fully realise the benefits of IT investment and to maximise ROI is to ensure users are aware of the capabilities. End user training is a crucial component in any IT project with even the most sophisticated technology needing human interaction to fully unlock its potential.

Nexus Open Systems delivers IT solutions, services, support, training and exams to organisations of all sizes. With 20 years’ experience delivering certified training courses Nexus maintains partnerships with industry-leading manufacturers and suppliers including Microsoft, VMware, CompTIA, Cisco, PRINCE2, ITIL.

Products and services include: Managed Services, Proactive Management, Remediation work, Networking, Switching, Firewalls, Storage, Unified Communications, Collaboration Platform.