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Letter from the President - March 2018

A few months ago, I used this space to talk about the “what” of a CAD or BIM training program. (If you missed it, check out the November 2017 issue of AUGIWorld.) But as I mentioned then, figuring out what you want to train people on is only the first part of a plan. Next you need to decide “who” to train atnd “when.

Remember “the only thing worse than training an employee and having them leave, is to not train them, and have them stay”? I’ve come up with two other ways to replace the first half of that sentence: Training someone on something they don’t need, or training someone on something and have them forget it. Neither is as bad as not training at all, but you’ll waste less time if you can figure out who needs what and when.

First, who. Does everyone at your firm need the same training? Probably not. Managers and entry-level drafters have different job requirements and need different skills. Sure, we’d like everybody to be CAD or BIM experts, but it’s just not realistic. Even at those firms that have eliminated a “drafting” department, there are still people with specialized knowledge.

This presents a curriculum challenge you can tackle in one of two ways. You can look at each topic in your company standards and procedures and decide which groups or teams need to be competent at it. Or you can look at each job description and assemble a list of topics based on the role’s associated responsibilities. Which approach you choose might depend on how well-developed your training materials already are. If you already have an expansive curriculum for your drafters, it might be easy to go through it and pull out the topics that are also relevant for managers. But if you’re still developing your content, you might want to start by figuring out what you want each team member to know and create a topic list for each role from scratch.

(For those of you who’ve just realized that your training portfolio has now doubled or tripled in size...I’m sorry. But if you’ve ever been an expert user sitting in a beginner-level class—or vice versa—you know it’s necessary!)

Next, when. Getting the right timing for training can be almost as important as getting the right content and the right people. There’s no point in sending someone to a three-day Revit course if she’s only going to be working on CAD projects for the next year. On the other hand, waiting until she’s six months into her first Revit project to send her to the three-day course could also be counter-productive. I’m not necessarily advocating a “just-in-time” model, but the more chances your trainees have to apply their recently acquired knowledge, the more likely it is to stick.

What if you’re rolling out a new standard or procedure? When’s the best time for that? The short answer is, “When it’s ready,” but that’s a little overly simplistic for most situations. I find that what works best at my firm is to develop any new procedure within our standards committee and then release it to a small group as a “recommendation.” Once that group has vetted the new protocol, we roll it out to the whole firm through an all-hands email or focused training session, depending on how complicated or critical the new information is. For most of our projects, we don’t need to have a complete switchover, so this “rolling” method usually works pretty well.

So now I’ve covered the “who,” “what,” and “when” of training. Looks like I’ll have to save “how” to train for part three!

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