Monday, September 25, 2006

What keeps me up at night....

In a timely (to me) post, Kathy Sierra discusses why people don't upgrade (if they don't have to). She approaches it from a developer perspective. As a trainer - my goal is to minimize the time the end user spends in the "I suck" zone with whatever the developer/vendor hands me.

In the process she describes - I have control over the following:
- Making sure the users KNOW it is worth it (the pain). A more difficult task if I don't believe in the product. And I am a HORRIBLE liar....

- Going over the top with documentation. In my case, enough paper to make the end user feel cozy. People like having something to take with them - even if it promptly goes into the circular files. Movies for the meat and potatoes (because my end-users really LIKE movies). Interactive movies - even better. Keeps their fingers occupied.

- Telling people what cool things they can do with the new version. What my end-user thinks is cool may not necessarily match what the developer thinks is cool. Or what the documentation thinks is cool.

- Set the tone for future upgrades. Yeah - I should be perky and positive. I'm not. And a healthy dose of realism/pessimism seems to make the process go much smoother. My end users wind up with a "Gee, that wasn't as bad as I thought" moment rather than a "This sucks, it should have been easier" moment. The lesser of two evils.

- Start the buzz early. I've been breaking in my end-users on both the new online learning system and this major new upgrade every chance I get for the past 2 years with subtle hints and seed planting. Is that early enough?

The other stuff - I am at the mercy of the software vendors. I can only work with what is in front of me. This includes all bugs, glitches, and weird user interfaces.

A plea to the developers from an end-user trainer: PLEASE give me something that helps my users kick ass. It will make my job SO much easier. Thank you for listening.

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