In-House Revit Training - Yay or Nay?

If your firm provides in-house trainings on a regular basis, consider yourself lucky! I have worked for firms that did not provide specific training, or maybe sporadically when new software was implemented. Often, there is a senior technician showing the new person “how we’ve always done it,” and that sometimes nefarious technique is handed down from generation to generation. Okay, that may be a little dramatic, but you get the picture.

What’s It Going to Cost?

Part of the reason companies choose not to provide in-house training is the old “time = money” argument. Yes, training costs both time and money. However, as an investment, quality training can greatly improve efficiency and productivity. Learning to use the software correctly eliminates those legacy practices that may actually be detrimental to the design process. As an example, I once worked for a firm that did not provide formal software training until a software upgrade required it. An outside consultant was brought in, and it was realized that we were using the software the WRONG way all along! That was when I understood the need for continual learning.

Figure 1: Revit Structure Help

Part of my current responsibilities include providing monthly Revit® training to our architectural and structural staff. You read that right. Monthly trainings! How many Revit topics could there be? I’ve been doing this for over two years, and still going, so there is always something users can learn.

Where Do We Start?

First, you need to decide if someone in your firm is capable (and willing!) to provide training. An advantage to having someone in-house would be that person’s first-hand knowledge of the company standards and types of projects that your firm does.

If no one in-house can step up to the plate, there are many options out there. Your Autodesk reseller is a good resource, as is, AUGI user groups, and other Autodesk online resources. Keep in mind that even with “customized” training from an outside source, it is likely the training you receive will be more general in nature. I’m not saying you can’t get good training elsewhere, just that having someone who is immersed in your workflow will be more in tune with what your staff deals with on a day-to-day basis.

It is ideal if you have a training room or conference room to use for trainings. This eliminates the distractions of phone calls and work. If not, work with what you have, but try to keep the focus on the training.

Every month?

Not necessarily! Every company is different, and it really depends on the availability of staff and workload. Training is written into my job description, so it is part of my responsibilities and expectations. For many companies that do not have someone specifically tasked with training, it’s an overhead expense that takes away from billable time. Maybe trainings occur quarterly instead.

Monthly trainings are a big commitment, not only in the actual training, but also in the preparation time that should also be considered. For every one-hour training, figure on several hours of prep time. This may be compounded by providing handouts or sample models.

Figure 2: Training schedule

On the flip side, having a one-hour monthly or quarterly training may actually be easier than sending the entire staff to an external training for a full day or a few days at a time. The training schedule can be flexible to match workload. For instance, when an important deadline is looming and I know quite a few users won’t attend Revit® training, I can easily reschedule to accommodate as many people as possible. It may take some time to establish a training schedule that works for the majority of your users.

What Are the Topics?

Start with the basics. Even seasoned users will pick up on some tips or tricks they weren’t using before. It will be a good refresher for them, and good practice for a new trainer. A Revit Structure training may consist of simple grids and columns, then on to framing or foundations.

Keep the trainings relevant to what your users do. There is no point in reviewing MEP systems or furniture plans in a structural office.

Once you get a few trainings under your belt, you can set a schedule for training topics. I like to list a few topics, but I will also keep note of common issues that users are having, and use that as the next training topic. You can also poll your users to see what they feel they need training on. Don’t be surprised if some of the responses you get are topics you’ve already covered! There is nothing wrong with going back and repeating a training topic once or twice. If you keep getting the same request from the same person, maybe some additional one-on-one training is necessary, or refer them to other resources. Don’t bore the rest of the staff with repeated trainings, but certainly address the person having difficulty.

How Do We Train So People Learn?

Along with varying topics, vary the training style. You are training technical people. Hands-on trainings work well, but create an entirely different logistic nightmare (who has extra computers or laptops to use for training?). Occasionally, we will forgo a specific training topic, and simply have a “project workshop” where we discuss specific Revit challenges users are dealing with in their current projects.

Get to know your users. This is where most external trainings fall short. By working with users every day, you will begin to learn their specific skill-sets, habits, and learning styles. You’ll know the guy who has to have every handout, and you’ll know the gal who would rather watch a video than read a book. You may not be able to customize your trainings every time for every person, but you will be able to adjust and accommodate as much as possible.

Another approach to training would be to have your “power users” provide a training one month. Have them come up with a topic and prepare the training. There may be users that have more knowledge than you know. Having them involved in the training will let them know that you appreciate their skills.

Train the Trainer

Whoever provides training has to be at least one step ahead of the rest of the staff. Provide opportunities for the trainer to attend seminars and conferences (like Autodesk University!). Purchase books and other resources to inform and equip your Revit trainer. Plug them into local user groups (check the AUGI website for a list of LUGs: The better equipped the trainer, the better the trainings will be. Plus, they can also follow industry trends and network among peers.

Figure 3: AUGI Website – Revit Structure

Better Than Nothing!

No matter what, any additional training is better than no training at all. Anything that you can give your staff to help improve their skills will give them confidence and greater productivity. The investment of training is always worth it! 

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