Top 10 Reasons Why Mobile Training Fails
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Top 10 Reasons Why Mobile Training Fails

Photo source: The Modern Nomad

Emergent Enterprise E-E says: We could all share stories of initiatives that fell way short of expectations. The value of these experiences is that we can learn from mistakes and avoid them in our next attempt. Or, if we are using Design Thinking, we can remove some of the problems in subsequent iterations of the deliverable. Do you have any points to add to the list? Share thoughts below. 

Source: Scott McCormick, medium.com, September 21, 2017

The process started over a year ago. Employees had a specific need for job support information and a training opportunity was identified. The business outcome was clearly articulated, the pain points were assessed, a team was formed and a timeline was built. The deliverable was designed and developed with great attention to detail and finally launched.

And then it just sat there. From Day One it was a digital paperweight. No employees were using it. The analytics showed low adoption and little engagement. There wasn’t an emoticon in existence to reflect the shared disappointment.

What went wrong?

We’ve all seen training initiatives fail. There’s a game nobody plays. An eLearning module that gets lost in the bowels of an LMS. A video that causes drowsiness instead of action. And now that many new technologies and platforms and learning approaches are being introduced and injecting change into the efforts of training departments, it seems like the potential for #trainingfail has increased exponentially.

I define Mobile Training as any training effort that includes job performance support information that is delivered to end users via mobile devices including smartphones, tablets, smart watches, smart glasses and other wearables. This type of training is rife with potential — and fraught with danger — as there are so many variables in play and the train can leave the tracks in many different ways.

That being said, the train can stay on the tracks if the following ten mistakes are avoided or at least minimized. Avoid these pitfalls and your chances for a successful mobile training outcome will increase.

Top 10 Reasons Why Mobile Training Fails

  1. The training experience didn’t require mobile delivery. Are you using mobile for the sake of using mobile? Determine there is a distinct need that brings value to the employees by deploying it in a mobile context. Sometimes mobile is not the answer and can even get in the way.
  2. The company doesn’t have the right resources, capabilities or capacity for mobile. A training department can quickly get over its head when it finds out it has designed a deliverable that it can’t develop or deliver. Make sure you have the appropriate skills, tools and technology in place before you get too far in your process.
  3. Nobody talked to the target audience. The end users are the most important stakeholders and often they are overlooked. Before you start delivering information to those devices they use all day every day and disrupt their daily activities find out their wants, needs, dreams and fears. Utilize an empathy map to get to know your audience. I like this one from XPLANE.
  4. The key stakeholders weren’t included. It’s important to get input from everyone who has an investment in the training. That includes management, IT, the audience (as noted in #3) and other possibilities like HR, Legal and Branding. You have an Innovation Department? Let them know, too.
  5. The User Experience (UX) design didn’t include an analysis of the user’s environment. I have labeled UX for mobile training the New-X as it includes so many influences and variables to be considered. Will the physical surroundings — light, noise, customers — impact your training? You need to know that long before your product launches.
  6. The deliverable was not designed for a mobile experience. Taking an existing eLearning module and reformatting it for a smaller screen or dropping a stack of clunky pdf files onto a mobile device rarely makes for a strong mobile UX. Do the hard work and design for mobile.
  7. Company policies were not considered. Your mobile training may not fit within the requirements of the policies within your organization. If employees can take the training anywhere and at any time, can they bill the company for the time it takes? You need to know if end users will use their own devices or company-supplied ones. Check your policies and if you don’t have any — draft them.
  8. The end users don’t see the value of the training. Any training deliverable deserves a good marketing program. Let end users know what’s coming and why it is going to make their lives better. Answer their question, “What’s in it for me?” And then follow up the launch with examples of good use case scenarios.
  9. The mobile training had no champions. Included in your communications of #8, you will benefit from strong recommendations from influential executives and also highly-regarded members of the target audience. Appoint power users at key locations who can evangelize the training and help their colleagues grow to appreciate it.
  10. The training department itself didn’t believe in the initiative. I didn’t want to add this point but it happens too often. The department was just “checking a box” or reaching a SMART goal. The deliverable was launched and forgotten. There is lots to learn to deliver effective mobile training but it is worth it as it can be a very powerful solution to help employees do their jobs better.

Now let’s paint a different scenario than what opened up this post.

Employees had a specific need for job support information and a training opportunity was identified. The business outcome was clearly articulated, the pain points were assessed, a team was formed and a timeline was built. The mobile deliverable was designed and developed and launched. After some usage and user feedback revisions were made and subsequent iterations followed. The communications plan had paved the way so users knew what was coming and why it was useful. The UX on the mobile device was strong and user-friendly. Analytics showed that there was widespread adoption. #trainingwin

Do you have a mobile training pitfall to add to the list? Share your thoughts!

Don’t want to take on mobile training by yourself? I help companies with these very types of opportunities and challenges through Emergent Enterprise Consulting. I am also the editor of the tech website emergent-enterprise.com. I am available for speaking engagements covering any of the topics in my blog posts and the E-E website. You can contact me there.

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