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Why It Isn't Enough To Train Staff Once

What's the best way to increase employee productivity, improve member service and ensure that everyone is taking advantage of all the functionality of your core system and applications? The answer is a continuing education program. An ongoing training program not only helps to ensure high performance, it is a boost to morale.

Many credit unions train their new employees, but fall short when it comes to new releases or enhanced system features on an ongoing basis for all staff. As a result, those credit unions miss out on some real productivity benefits and enhanced service opportunities-nor do they realize the full return on their technology investment. Today, training your staff isn't limited to classroom instruction. Your provider should offer a variety of delivery methods and help you determine the combination that works best for your needs, the skill level of your employees and the complexity of the subject matter. This training is a critical part of your total technology solution.

Although when you're making a major change, converting a core system or adding a complex application, hands-on, classroom training might be preferred when applying a traditional viewpoint, new web-based options-called e-learning-can be used to make this classroom-based training more effective.

This Classroom is Virtually Anywhere

E-learning typically uses the Internet or your institution's Intranet to deliver the program, which can be deployed in different ways. Synchronous e-learning occurs at a pre-scheduled time and is lead by a live instructor. This method can allow two-way audio, so participants can ask questions; and two-way video, enabling the instructor to view students and their desktops remotely. Asynchronous e-learning can be a pre-recorded training session, an on-demand, self-paced tutorial, or a combination of the two. Although students don't have the advantage of a live instructor, they can download and work through the information at their own pace. Both e-learning methods have a place in your credit union's ongoing education strategy.

For example, let's say your credit union is preparing for a system migration, and your provider's trainer will be coming on-site for classroom training in a few weeks. Your users can gain familiarity with screens and system basics through an asynchronous e-learning program that provides an overview of what's to come, with checkpoints-like quizzes with immediate feedback-to ensure they understand and retain the information covered. By the time the trainer arrives, your staff already has knowledge of the system basics and is ready for more in-depth, hands-on instruction.

Live, synchronous e-learning sessions are ideal for training on new applications or new releases. It enables your staff to be located in disparate branches, yet hear the same information simultaneously, and benefit from being exposed to everyone's questions and answers. These sessions can be recorded, catalogued and used for new employee training, as well as a refresher for seasoned employees.

E-learning is a cost-effective and convenient way to keep your employees up-to-speed on technology, eliminating the traditional travel expenses as well as traditional staff downtime during peak credit union hours. If you have a PC with Internet access, you have a new training tool at your disposal. Because the instructor doesn't have to travel to your site, or from branch-to-branch, e-learning is less expensive than traditional classroom methods. It also gives you the convenience of scheduling the training when the credit union is closed, or during off-peak hours, when your employees are relaxed and your members aren't lined up, waiting to be served.

Take Advantage of What Your Provider Offers

Savvy providers not only provide a full range of training, but also facilitate periodic free, on-line Web-based seminars to round out the offering. Even if your resources are limited, consider choosing one member of your staff to attend, so that person can update the rest of your staff on what he or she learns.

Some providers are offering regional workshops to several non-competing credit unions at a centralized location, where attendees gain new insights on how their colleagues utilize specific products and services. At least one provider will be introducing a complete training portal, an online repository of all types of training materials, interactive programs and certification programs for employees in both your front and back room operations. This go-to knowledge library ensures time-strapped credit unions fast access to a comprehensive resource that provides a one-stop shop comprehensive system and application training.

In addition to system training from your provider, e-learning options are also ideal for employee orientation, compliance and member service skill development. A number of off-the-shelf programs are available, or you can work with developers to create your own, depending on your timeframe and budget.

Focused, well-deployed training programs can do more for your credit union than boost employee morale. They enable you to get new products to members more quickly, make full use of your technology and improve the productivity of your employees. Make sure you work with a provider who not only delivers technology, but also offers the ongoing training support that works with your schedule and your needs. Chances are you'll discover system functionality you didn't know was there before.

Patricia Stark is VP-client services for the Credit Union Core Systems business of Harland Financial Solutions. She can be reached at patricia.stark<at>harlandfs.com.

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Credit Union Journal encourages reader feedback. Letters to the Editor can be sent to Managing Editor Lisa Freeman at lfreeman<at>cujournal.com. Letters can also be faxed to 561-832-2939 or submitted online at www.cujournal.com.

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