I know what you're thinking. Or at least I know what your management team is asking you to think and then do.
When valuable time is put into developing and selling software and then educating your customers to use it, it’s important to make sure your customers actually learn how to use your software. However, the challenge with any software implementation is making sure users aren't just knowledgeable about using a tool, but that they can perform job tasks with your software.
Of all the customer education roles you could have on your team, when it comes to hiring someone to deliver training or someone to develop training, you will need to make a tough decision about which role to hire first. To make this decision easier, consider what type of training you will provide your customers. If you intend to provide only self-paced eLearning, you will start with someone who can develop content. Since no one will "deliver" training, you will not need an instructor. However, if you will offer live training or blended learning experiences, you will need both the skills of developing content and delivering training.
As Robert Castaneda, founder and CEO of ServiceRocket, likes to remind me, "Show me the diagram. Every course needs a diagram." What does he mean? The diagram is the conceptual image that explains the higher purpose of your software product, a workflow process in your software, or the overall concept of what is possible with your product. It is used at the beginning of a course and frames what a course will cover.
If you are new to the job of managing your customer education programs, one of the first things you realize is how overwhelming it is to develop training content, especially when you don't have a lot of resources. There are so many things to consider: determining your customer education strategy, figuring out what customers actually want, deciding what course to create first, determining what topics should be covered in that first course and what topics to leave out. And these a just scratching the surface of what you need to do.
If you've ever asked: "What is the difference between designing a software training course and developing it...and why does it matter?" The answer is simpler than it may appear. And it is important in helping you create a repeatable, scalable, and un-daunting approach to creating software training courses.
There comes a time in many enterprise software companies when customer education becomes a priority. Your product starts to gain traction, customers start asking for (demanding) training, and they begin to expect real training. What makes things even more scary is that these training requests seem to snowball. Now, multiple customers want training in the same week, you don't have any materials, and you are the only one doing training. Too late to say "No" because sales has already promised training.
In a recent LA Times column, featured high school calculus instructor Anthony Yom propelled his students to achieve a 95% pass rate for the AP calculus exam. The impressive part is he achieved this feat in an underpriviledged part of Los Angeles not known for high acadeic achievement.