The decision to invest in new technology is not made lightly. There are many factors involved, not the least are cost, compatibility, and anticipated gains from efficiencies. Think of the Efficiency Ratio often referenced as a measure of credit union success. Technology plays a huge role in driving that number. But what good is it to invest in that technology, or core system, if your employees canâ€™t use it to its fullest potential? What can you do to ensure your investment is optimized? Sitting through a vendor presentation and reviewing slides only goes so far. Thereâ€™s a certain amount understanding and knowledge that can really only be gained from practical, hands on use. Once your employees reach a comfort level with the basics, what else can be done to encourage them to dig deeper, and further maximize your tech investment? Here are some ideas to help build on that knowledge and get them thinking out of the box... or at least out of the classroom.
- Join User Groups- User groups are a great tool and often over looked as a source of information. Just about everyone has Googled the occasion IT question and found answers in a forum. Joining a user group for your specific technology not only provides another source for troubleshooting answers, but can make you aware of potential problems, provide links to solutions (think patches and work-arounds), and also provide a network of contacts in your area.
- Subscribe to Blogs- Blog articles are a wealth of information and can be found on a variety of platforms. Your vendor may host their own blogs, as well as the manufacturer of the your particular core technology. Other social media sites may publish them as well, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Your user group may even have their own blog! Subscribing is an easy way to stay update and current on the latest tech offers, conversations and hot topics, all delivered directly to your desktop.
- Attend Conferences-Another great way to network and make connections, and hear first hand of the latest and greatest core technology developments. Attending a conference has the added benefit of employees potentially attending together, as a team, providing the foundation on which to build cohesiveness and problem-solving skills together.
- Volunteer for the User Committee- Setting up a User Committee is a great way to track recurring issues and common questions, and also to provide uniform answers and solutions to your staff. Encouraging your employees to participate in the Committee will help keep them engaged and informed, but also invested in the successful outcome of the tech use. Having a single point of reference for questions will also eliminate redundancy and streamline problem resolution.
- Ask To Be a Part of Beta Testing- Before a product is officially on the market, the final phase of development is to test the technology on a limited basis with a limited number of end-users in order to obtain feedback on its performance. Being a part of this testing will provide some insight as to how the software was designed and what was done to resolve any issues. Invaluable information to have when the technology is in real - world use and difficulties arise.
- Experiment in the training/testing platforms- Similarly, once the actual technology is in place, spend time using the various tech tools and capabilities with â€œfakeâ€ data. Generate a report, run analytics, track performance, etc. without using real-time information. Learning to manipulate the data when thereâ€™s no deadline or fear of making a mistake will allow your employee to develop a comfort level with the software, and maybe inspire them to be creative with it.
- Explore Beyond Your Comfort Zone- This ties in nicely with the above idea of experimenting on the training platform. Encourage them to learn how to perform a task, and then further manipulating the results to generate new data. If they lose data, how can they recover it? Can they export a table or report?
- Be active I. Online academies and Universities- Continuing education is always a good investment. Building upon your knowledge base and preparing for any new technologies on the horizon will keep you competitive. Investing in core technology with open architecture will ensure youâ€™re ready for any advances that come along, and having a staff prepared to embrace it is invaluable.