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Taylor Anderson /

Training is not a change management strategy!

While training is an integral part of an effective change management strategy, don’t assume that training alone will foster high user adoption of new solutions. Instead, a comprehensive change management strategy should be leveraged to ensure users ultimately engage in training.

Simply put, users are busy. And most really don’t like change as it disrupts their current ways of doing business. When you combine these two factors, it is easy to understand why driving high attendance to training sessions is a challenge. Unfortunately, if training is the focal point of the change management strategy and little is done to drive attendance, your initiative is at high risk for challenges with user adoption.

Recently we completed an onsite training day for a client that opted for live training as the primary change management tool to support a new technology. Virtually no communications were provided to users around either the new solution or the scheduled training sessions; instead, users were notified that training was available the day of. The result? An investment in time and travel for an onsite trainer with just two attendees to training.

Anyone with change management experience appreciates that user training is a key component in preparing users for new technologies. However, the best training program ever developed won’t help with adoption if users don’t attend the training in the first place. Rather than think of training as the change management strategy, realize that training is just one part of the change management strategy. Start with thorough planning and discovery to truly understand the user base and how new solutions will impact workflows. Carefully develop a formal user communication plan with a heavy “what’s in it for me?”, or WIIFM, based focus to pique user interest and excitement in new solutions. Communicate frequently with users leading up to training with messages that entice and make users want to attend training. And as for the actual training, make sure you’re providing materials in a variety of learning vehicles – such as live training, webinars, learning portals, etc. – to embrace the fact that people all learn differently.

The result of this approach? Training that matters! Because the first objective in any successful training initiative should be to drive attendance, and that is a key benefit of a winning change management strategy. 

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