Product trainings are always a tricky business. And educating customers on the most complex of products? Always an uphill battle.
So when it comes to something as integral as complex product trainings, it’s easy to understand why companies choose to stick with old, traditional methods that they are familiar with and that have worked for them in the past.
On the other hand, online training is perceived as a mysterious, complicated, time-consuming alternative that is best left unpacked. Rather than being a means of educating people about complex products, online learning can often be viewed as a complex product in itself!
But Solita, a Finland-based IT Services and Consulting company, would beg to differ. For them, taking that first step towards online complex product trainings turned out to be exactly the game-changing edge that their trainings desperately needed.
We chatted with Tuomas Alivuotila – Senior Consultant at Solita – who told us all about how they managed to entirely transform their complex product trainings by bringing online learning on board.
A Complex Product, A Training Challenge
Remember what we said earlier about the challenges of educating customers on a complex product? Well, Tuomas is more than well-versed with these challenges and the relentless efforts to resolve them.
As a part of his role as Senior Consultant at Solita, Tuomas is responsible for training and educating customers on Solita’s DataOps management and delivery product, the Agile Data Engine (ADE).
“My role is typically to help customers to succeed with using the ADE product. This could mean either helping them get started or helping them to expand the features, but the goal is to lower the limits so that they can get better with using our tool”, says Tuomas.
As a product, ADE is designed to solve a million DataOps headaches. But like most complex products, it isn’t the easiest to wrap one’s head around.
As Tuomas puts it, “The thing with the ADE is that it is not an easy tool, but it is easy to use once you have a good understanding of its usage and features.”
And therein lies the main challenge. Any training designed around the ADE must be able to demystify the deep complexity of the product while highlighting the parts that are most relevant and useful for the customers.
“If we just hand our clients a hundred-page-long documentation, it’s unlikely that they would be able to find and identify the features that really matter. So for us, it’s important that the customer understand the best practices for the tool before they get started”, explains Tuomas.
Having a clear, complete understanding of the ADE is also essential to help Solita reduce the number of support tickets they receive.
In Tuomas’ experience, many of the support issues often stem from a roughly-formed or incomplete idea of the tool’s capabilities. By informing the clients about the most essential features through effective training, Solita aims to lighten its customer support load while educating customers in a way that serves them best.
“For example, when a customer is evaluating the project in the POC (proof of concept) phase, it’s important for the evaluators to understand how to use the product”, explains Tuomas. “Otherwise, it could lead to complaints about the product lacking this or that feature. When in fact, in many cases, we find that the features are present, but it is unclear how they are supposed to be used.”
This is what the hurdle in most complex product trainings boils down to. The features, the solutions, and the benefits are all there. But the message often gets lost in translation. And crossing that hurdle to be able to communicate clearly with customers is where effective online trainings come in. It’s where we come in.
Solita’s Complex Product Trainings: Then Vs. Now
This is the part where we tell you that Solita’s ADE trainings for customers are now held almost entirely online – on Claned.
But that wasn’t always the plan.
Tuomas explains, “Actually, we first created the ADE course on Claned for our internal use. But when we noticed how effective the training was, we started thinking: how can we give the same training experience for our customers with this? Seeing how well it worked for our internal people, it became the obvious next step”.
Taking their complex product trainings for ADE online hadn’t necessarily been on the team’s mind before. But on experiencing the wonders of online training first-hand, Tuomas and the team were quick to shift gears.
Today, Tuomas is frank in admitting the stark difference the switch ended up making to their ADE training experience.
“Before Claned? We weren’t using any kind of online tools or any specific tool for that matter. We only had physical courses in the form of two-day long education or training systems. There was traditional training without any kind of exercises. After that, it was just hoping that the learners got everything right. It was an entirely different thing”.
Tuomas makes note of the structure and order that has come with the switch to online learning on Claned. As a result, the complex product trainings at Solita have transitioned into more efficient and result-oriented versions of their previous iterations.
“Did we have this well-planned road map for the whole learning path that we now have? Absolutely not”, says Tuomas. “Earlier, it was more of a one-way training where we told and showed customers how things can be done. But there were no guarantees that they actually learned anything”.
And what do the online training sessions look like now?
”Now, learners can actually build on top of each online training session and have a fully-formed concept of the system after the sessions end. So, Claned has really pushed us forward into a more professional training setting”.
Carrying out trainings on Claned has also helped solve Solita’s previous problem with keeping the trainings consistent.
Since the same person didn’t carry out the trainings, the learning experiences would vary widely based on who the individual or their experience was. But with online trainings, there is now a guaranteed level of performance in the training and delivery.
“With every training, it was a pain to figure out how to organise the experience. Now, all the trainings are similar. It’s so much easier to just say “Hey, we have this training system and we can just put you on the path, and help you out with it”, explains Tuomas.
The online training experience has also offered the team at Solita a chance to truly gauge the progress of learners.
“Earlier, we didn’t have any idea if the learners had actually paid any attention during the training. But this gives us more certainty about the extent of what they have learned and will be able to achieve with this tool”, says Tuomas.
He adds: “We are better informed about whether they’ve done the course and completed all the exercises. So we know exactly when it might be the perfect time for the learners to start using the ADE after the trainings.”
Online Training: A Change of Heart
Like we said earlier, when it comes to complex online product training, it can often be hard for companies to take the leap of faith with online learning. Perspectives towards online trainings can range from mild hesitation to stark scepticism.
Tuomas himself had a difficult experience with online trainings in the past, which he admits had made him initially sceptical about moving the ADE trainings online.
“Previously in my career, I’d had experience with video-based training systems, if you could call them that. It was a matter of ‘here’s 10 videos, here are some questions’. They were horrible. It’s like an hour of watching YouTube videos and then being handed questions for that hour. So it’s safe to say that I wasn’t a fan of online training before Claned. I had painful memories”, says Tuomas with a smile.
But today, Tuomas has become well-versed with the wonders of online complex product trainings first-hand. Which is why as an ex-sceptic, he finds himself in the perfect position to tackle scepticism on the part of Solita’s clients.
In Tuomas’ words: “I think that’s why I really like to iterate to the clients that this is not an experience where you will watch hours and hours of videos. That this is an interactive training where you are actually learning. There are videos, text, PowerPoints, pictures, work documents and a variety of training exercises. It adjusts around your time commitment and allows you to learn at your pace. It’s completely different.”
“Although I think lately, I’ve forgotten what those painful trainings sessions were like. So I don’t even compare the two anymore”, he chuckles.
Happy Surprises = Happy Customers
The Claned complex product training experience has been full of surprises for Tuomas, the training team at Solita, and most delightfully, their customers!
“One thing that has surprised me is that everyone really participates. They really do all the exercises. They watch all the videos, they watch all the training materials”, says Tuomas. “And it’s also incredible for me to see how well they manage by themselves. Our learners are able to do the whole training system by themselves quite easily”.
For Solita, this is an important win.
Most learners balance the ADE training with their main jobs and other responsibilities. Often, the most they can spend on the training is a few hours per day. A smoother, easier-to-use training experience that adjusts around your time commitment means more satisfied learners.
“It’s why Claned has been received really well. Our learners like the fact that it’s an intuitive platform and it gives them the flexibility to decide when and how to do the training”, says Tuomas.
It helps that learners tend to like platform right from the beginning and of course, it helps learning when you are enjoying rather than being forced to do something”, Tuomas says.
And the best discovery of all? Tuomas puts it best when he says the words that just about everyone involved in a complex product training longs to hear.
“Thanks to this new form of training, we’ve seen that people aren’t just using the tool, they’re also learning the correct way of thinking with the product.”
Want to get your customers or internal team excited about a product, too?
At Claned, we help design complex product trainings that people actually love participating in!