5 Dynamics 365 Training Tips – #D365ForHousing

You’ve designed a user friendly interface, automated as many processes as possible, tested the system to destruction and told everyone its on its way. Now its time to train the users. Here’s 5 tips to help you deliver your session.

  1. The culture of using Dynamics 365 within housing

Using CRM is different to your standard system where you may add a note covering your tracks and explaining what you’ve done. After you’ve done this you may then send an email to a group of 20 people just to make sure everyone knows what’s happened. Then, it’s fingers crossed the right actions being taken. With D365, you need to deal with things a little differently, for example you may categorise the contact;

  • What was it about?
  • How did it come in?
  • Can I deal with the issues?
  • Should I send something to a colleague to follow up?
  • If so, which team/individual…and what do they need to do?

The 2nd option may seem more long-winded but, it;

  • Allows you to effectively handle any follow up contact you have with that customer
  • Identify how, why and when customers contact you
  • Influences how you develop your CRM system moving forward
  • Provides some great data that can influence how you structure other digital platforms such as your website or portal.

Helping users understand this can be tricky. It’s a good idea to explain the benefits to them as an individual so they appreciate how this new way of working is going to help them.

2. Fail to plan, plan to fail

Develop a lesson plan to ensure you deliver a consistent message to all users. Keep this flexible as new learners may ask unexpected questions which can shape future lessons. Introduce real world scenarios to help colleagues understand how this new way of working will benefit them personally and make their lives easier.

3. Get your style right

Understanding different learning styles helps you prepare a detailed lesson plan with clear outcomes and a suite of material that caters for all the students. As well as the main training session, provide refresher training and easily accessible quick guides to help colleagues gain a deeper understanding of the system

There are thousands of websites dedicated to learning styles (and I’ve visited many of them). Neil Fleming‘s VARK model is one of my favourites

Learning styleDescriptionHow to tailor your training
VisualPrefer to see/watchUse visual aids which represent how CRM should be used. Demonstrate the product.
AuditoryLearn best through listeningDiscuss how the product will be used, have conversations about any challenges they may face
Read/write Allow time for these users to write instructions and provide written guides
Kinestheticprefer to learn via experience — moving, touching, and doingAllow users to play with CRM, a more practical lesson.

This traditional way of identify how people learn is being challenged. The British Council Blog Four reasons to avoid ‘learning styles’ – and one alternative, by Carol Lethaby suggests there’s a wealth of evidence-based teaching approaches that we are not exploiting. Using learners’ prior knowledge to help them learn new things is one such approach. What the learner knows already has a strong effect on how well they will learn new information. There is even evidence that a particular part of the brain is activated when we connect old and new information.

The connection between prior knowledge and the way the brain works is a new area of research, but the implications are clear. Finding out what learners know already – and helping them to make connections between that and new information – is a great way to help them learn.

Listening to what learners want and taking note of this in teaching is useful too. That’s not because it’s related to learning styles, but because of the learners’ previous knowledge – we’re interested in what we already know about. This in turn helps us learn new things about the topic.

Whatever method you use remain flexible and adapt to the needs to the users.

4. A material world

You’re work up to this point will have identified how colleagues will use the system. Work hard to make it easy for them to get to grips with how they’ll use it. You can produce webinars, quick guides, videos etc. when you roll out updates or start using new functions.

5. Location, location, location

Make every effort to carry out training sessions away from the user’s desk. This helps them engage and understand what they’ll be doing. I’d suggest no more than 6 colleagues in each session. Sessions can run for 2 hours giving everyone the chance to discuss the process they follow and ask questions.

It’s also worth involving other teams who interact with the team you’re developing for. You may need to provide some light touch training or just make sure they understand the whole process.

UPDATE (March 21) – With companies using more agile development practices (and the fact that most of us work from home at the moment) the rate of change within the system can be a bit much for some users. To help support this and the way that users now consume information I’d suggest the following as an alternative to ‘sheep dip’ classroom based training that many users forget as soon as they get back to their desks

  1. Provide early access to the training environment as early in the project as possible – Explain its not the finished product but stress that it can be used for colleagues to understand how to navigate around the new system
  2. Create short videos that show colleagues how to use each piece of functionality and get them out way before go live. This, along with access to the training environment will help them consume the material at a time that suits them
  3. Provide documented guides to support the videos. See learning styles above
  4. Track how many cases/activities are being created in the training environment – This will help you understand who could be a super user and who needs a bit more support.
  5. Offer team training – after this if users still need a bit of support then offer training within groups who do the same/similar roles.

Although there is a place for classroom based training training I’d suggest that this is used to target specific issues a group of colleagues may be having rather than a general overview of the system.

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