by Bill Cushard (@BillCush)
If executed well, enterprise software training can be a major contributor to user adoption, customer success, and company growth. The hard part is building a training organization that can achieve these three important results. The best way to build a training organization that can help you increase adoption, customer success, and revenues is to understand the maturity levels that great training organizations go through on the path to success. When enterprise software companies come to us, they are looking for help to build a training function from scratch or take their existing training to the next level. Over the years, we have noticed important patterns of maturity that each company goes through. To help our customers build great training departments, we developed the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model.
We use the maturity model to directly and indirectly know where our customers are and what needs to be done to get them to the next level. The model provides a framework for helping our customers grow their businesses. In this blog post, I summarize the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model to give you an idea of what it is and how it works.
The Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model
Stage 1 - Reacting
In the Reacting Stage of the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model, companies are doing exactly what you would think they'd be doing, and that is reacting to each training request from customers as they are made. In many cases, training requests come as a surprise to an early stage software company because they have been so focused on building, selling, and delivering products to early adopter customers who don't need training. But when that first deal is closed with a rather large enterprise customer who asks for training, the fire drill begins and "training" is created. As more large enterprise customers buy your product, it becomes a constant fire drill to keep up with training requests, which is not an efficient way to run a training business.
To get out of this cycle, you must do a few things, each of which leads to a result that can get you to the next stage, which is the Performing Stage.
Stage 2 - Performing
At Stage 2, you have established training content, a published schedule, and your customers can sign up for training that covers most of what they need to learn to adopt your software. Certainly the training could be better, but your customers get what they need, your training team is fairly organized, and customers give your training high scores on the surveys. Fire drills are rare, and your services and support teams can focus on implementations rather than on training. In other words, your training department is performing well delivering training to customers.
What happens when product growth takes off, and you have training requests for thousands of people across multiple time zones? This is the stage in the maturity model during which training departments need to figure out how to scale.
Stage 3 - Scaling
In the Scaling Stage of the maturity model, enterprise software training departments are putting processes and technologies in place that allow them to handle rapid growth without simply adding headcount at the same rate as training growth. The training department is automating training management, building a training partner network, and/or developing self-paced eLearning courses that augment the live training that is already occurring.
Scaling a training business is about the ability to deliver training to more students without adding resources at the same rate. Companies that can figure this out, can build and run a profitable training business that helps customers adopt your product, renew every year, and contribute profits to the consolidated income statement.
Stage 4 - Optimizing
At the Optimizing Stage of the maturity model, companies are constantly looking for ways to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the training business. In most cases, a senior level executive is running the training business and is accountable to a number. That number could be a revenue number, a profit target, or even adoption or renewal rates. The training organization is testing pricing models, exploring new learning modalities, and further integrating the learning management system (LMS) into other company systems to improve the over all picture of the customer.
Putting the Model to Use
If you are trying to build a great enterprise software training business or take your current team to the next level, it is important to do two things. First, determine at what stage of the enterprise software training maturity model you are right now. Once you know your current state, you can make decisions on where to go next. Second, make a decision about how far you want to go. If you are currently in the Reacting Stage, you may not want to make the investment necessary to get to the Optimizing Stage. And that's OK. The best way to make that decision is to understand each stage and what actions are necessary to get to each stage.
The Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model can help you have better discussions with your executive team about how far you can take your training business and what actions are necessary to get there.
To learn more about the Enterprise Software Maturity Model and how to put it to use, down our free eBook, Winning in the Enterprise Software Economy: Using the Enterprise Software Training Maturity Model to Increase Adoption, Increase Customer Success, and Grow Your Business.