How essential is it to train users during a VoIP migration

How essential is it to train users during a VoIP migration

The first introduction of a VoIP phone system to an organisation is a lot more than just changing the handset on the desk.   The features and functions offered by a VoIP system to the end user are the world apart from those of the traditional telephone system.

As with all changes taking users from their current comfort zones to somewhere new, training and handholding are needed.  It is a serious error to consider the new system as “just a phone”.  The surface similarity with cellular and smartphones tend to give the impression that you just need to pick it up and use it.  That’s dead wrong.  In addition, in most implementation projects when financial pressures hit, training is the first area to be trimmed.  “After all it’s only a phone”.

A VoIP system brings with it a host of new features and functions.  Executive and Departmental Secretaries will need to have training in advanced call screening, forwarding and group functions.  Without training, you will not accrue the full benefit of the new VoIP system.

An important point to note is to have dedicated trainers in your training department or from your VoIP service provider deliver VoIP training to users.  Not IT.  Technical IT people implementing VoIP systems are in general not good trainers.  They are usually too busy with the physical rollout of the new equipment and installation and configuration of the VoIP software to pay much attention to user training.  Train the trainers are not recommended as a primary delivery method though a departmental “go to” person can emerge over time.

VoIP training is said to be a moving target that is difficult to design and deliver and often does not meet expectations.  This is because in general, ou is dealing with a range of user abilities from the complete novice to the power user.   That is why you need specialised trainers.

The training programme should include elements prior to going live and support thereafter.

Pre-Implementation

Start a VoIP training programme with the current phone list.  Use it to draw up an initial training programme.  The list is generally out of date and inaccurate, but it is somewhere to start.

Categorise users into classes:

  • Executive Users and their Secretaries. In general, Executives have fairly simple needs over and above that of making and receiving calls.  They will want to switch on and off having their secretary screen their incoming calls, they will want to forward all calls permanently or for a specified period.  They will want to hear voicemail.  Similar training to the regular user, but it is better delivered personally one-on-one.Typically, Executive Secretaries will screen incoming calls and place outgoing calls for their Executives, transfer calls, set up local and international conference calls and maintain personal directories on their behalf.  If they act for several Executives, this can be a quite complex set of requirements that may require programming or configuration work to set up their handsets with the appropriate “one-touch” buttons.   They also have their individual telephony requirements.They will need a full and comprehensive training programme on all aspects of the new VoIP system in order to carry out these functions on behalf of their principal.
  • Secretarial. Departmental secretarial users are similar to Executive Secretaries but without the screening and phonebook requirements.  If calls are not answered, a user can forward calls to them for redirection.   They may be required to maintain departmental calling groups and to initiate conference calls.As with Executive secretaries, they will need a full and comprehensive training programme on all aspects of the new VoIP system in order to carry out these functions
  • User. Users will need training on how to make and answer calls, how to forward calls automatically or under certain conditions, for example on no answer.  They will also want to know how to use corporate phone books and if allowed, to maintain and use personal phone books.   Finally, how to make and join conference calls.

All users need to receive training prior to the new VoIP system going live.  This is generally accomplished by setting up a training room with several phones active on the new VoIP system.  Users then participate in a structured training session introducing them to the features and functions of the new system.  Generally, two hours or a half-day is sufficient.  A combination of formal and drop in training sessions is usually best.

Post Implementation

You should set up a dedicated telephone help desk for some time after rolling out the new system.

Finally, each user should be provided with a laminated A4 sheet setting out common tasks and how to accomplish them.  The sheet should also set out how to reach and use on-line training, including video and structured courses. It should also set out contact details for the dedicated Help Desk.

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