Onsite training for estimating software – Is it right for your company?

Onsite Training is a great option and many customers choose this to meet their training needs. More and more companies are realizing the value of bringing training on-site as it is one of the most cost-effective ways to facilitate your company’s learning and implementation goals. Onsite training allows you to tailor the training to the specific needs of your company and expand the number of people and departments that can be exposed to the training. It is important that the owner/estimator communicates with the trainer what their needs are so a customized training curriculum can be developed. As with all training, there are things to consider in making onsite training successful for your company.

Is it cost efficient for your company?

Perhaps the most obvious advantage to on-site training is avoiding expenses such as transportation, lodging, food and possible meeting room rental. You should first consider the number of people to be trained and the cost of the expenses mentioned above (transportation, lodging, food) to send them to a classroom training compared to bringing an instructor to your office.

Which employees should you train?

Those who will use the application on a regular basis are the ones that should receive the training. Many companies make the mistake for wanting to train everyone in the company regardless of their role as it pertains to the training. In software application training, if an employee does not have access or a license to use the software on a regular basis, they should not attend the training. It is a proven fact that, during training, employees who only watch the information given will not retain as much as those who are given an opportunity to do hand-on learning of the information. They become more of a distraction and will usually be bored throughout the entire training, leading to excessive internet use, phone usage, working on other tasks and in and out of the classroom. When this happens, that employee is costing the company more money because they have spent time away from doing their regular daily task. An option to allow these employees exposure to the software might be for the trainer to offer an overview for these employees that will quickly show them what the software does as it pertains to their role or other departments within the company.

Create an ideal learning space.

Even though the training is being conducted at your office, you must create an idea of the employees being offsite. As a company, you must consider the adequacy of your facilities, the factor that is essential to ideal learning. While a company might reduce the cost by staying on-site, make sure you do not reduce or compromise the learning experience. You must commit to a dedicated training space within your office (conference room, etc.) Make sure you have an adequate room layout so the attendees will be comfortable and it is an ideal learning environment and not a fire hazard. The space should be setup properly by providing everything needed for training (computers, screen and projector if necessary, training manuals, etc.) All software should be installed and tested prior to the instructor arriving onsite. Most software companies offer online help to get the software installed. Remember, you do not want to spend valuable training time trying to get the software installed. You must commit to starting on time, taking appropriate breaks, making sure phone are on mute and the attendees are in tuned to training and not allow distractions that will impede training (phone calls, going to their office during training time, checking emails, etc.) These things should be done during scheduled breaks or lunch time.

After the training – focus and repetition

Continued training will help your employees retain what they learned and help them apply the skills to their estimates. In a recent blog, I mention that training is only effective when you give your estimators the chance to use and absorb what they’ve learned. This will take a little time but your whole company will benefit in the long run. A few weeks after the training is over is the perfect time to setup an online training or attend a webinar to strengthen what’s already been taught. As with any training, a small percentage of what you learned will be lost. To keep this percentage down, you will retain more of what you learn when you practice those skills. Focus and repetition are important. Instead of trying to apply everything you learned in the training session, it’s most effective to incorporate just a few of the features you learned but use them daily so you feel comfortable with them. Over time you will add in other features until you have mastered the program.

About Sharolyn Lewis

Sharolyn Lewis is a Software Trainer for ConEst Software Systems with over 25 years in the construction software industry. She currently trains ConEst applications for Electrical Estimating, JobTrac, and SureCount thru online training, online webinars and classroom instruction. Sharolyn worked for Trade Service Corporation training an electrical software application as well as editing and uploading manufacturer price lists into the TraSer software. Sharolyn has trained MEP estimating, Purchasing, and Time and Material Billing software to contractors for many years. She was part of the Pentagon Renovation Project between 2007 and 2012 as a commissioning lead overseeing testing and start up for Fire/smoke alarm systems, Lighting and lighting control systems, Energy monitoring and control systems, plumbing systems, and HVAC distribution systems. She has a degree in Industrial Psychology from the University of Louisville. She also has an Associate Degree in Construction Technology.