So, you think you want a software training environment?
Updated: May 16
"If only we had a software training environment where our agents could get system exposure..."
The famous last words of someone about to waste a decent amount of time and money.
Over the last 15 years of my career in the human capital and training industry - spanning work at Deloitte, Marriott, non-profits, public sector, and more - I've led programs that have touched millions of learners. The request for a software training environment to upskill new hires is common.
And on the surface it sounds good, right? Learners will get to see the system, click around, and be ready for the real thing.
But if we take a step back to consider the business and learning objectives of a 'training environment', our goal isn't to obtain a sandbox. It's to upskill our new hires faster. Here's why training environments usually don't meet that goal as well as we'd like:
User Management: Anyone who has managed a sandbox will tell you that getting users access and managing passwords - which sounds like it should be easy - isn't.
Data Management: Daily resets of the sandbox or waiting on IT to run a task is ''a thing.' There are a lot of hours spent trying to prep data and tasks for trainees. It's not uncommon that trainees get delayed because 'we need to reset the data.'
Uptime: Sandboxes typically don't get the same love and attention as production environments. They are more frequently down for updates - sometimes unexpectedly at times that hurt training delivery schedules.
Accuracy: At times, sandboxes don't have the latest and greatest features. I've seen companies avoid using training environments because learners get confused when the thing they practiced is different once they hit the floor.
Data Tracking: Even if all the items above weren't an issue, sandboxes lack a hugely important strategic element for learning: being able to prove that learners are getting the right amount of practice in the right way. It can actually be damaging if learners pick up bad habits. But sandboxes don't track data to tell us whether learners are practicing in the right way or not. And key indicators such as transaction time aren't tracked, so we don't know if a learner will have a 10 minute or 3 minute handle time on the other side. So sandboxes give 'practice' but we have no way of knowing what kind.
One and Done: Sandbox practice also nearly always requires a live FTE to guide learners in the room. The value of the sandbox is limited by the availability of that FTE. Once the learner is live on the floor, there's no on-demand way to practice again.
Costs: As if everything above weren't enough, some training systems even come with their own set of user license fees. Ouch.
What's the alternative? Software simulations.
Software simulation builder tools (like the kind we offer at Bright) are drag + drop, can be built and updated in hours, and address every single item above. Because they are repeatable, user and data are infinitely re-usable. To many leaders' surprise, the build and update process is also fast. Updates take no longer than updating PowerPoint slides, but with far more upside. And - most importantly - because the simulation is designed, we know the error rates, data accuracy, handle times, and many other proficiency data points for each unique learner. Whereas some learners may need 30 iterations, others may only need 5. The data tells us which is which. And finally, simulations are on-demand. Learners who need to return to a process can do so at any time.
One of the important lessons learned over the last few years at Bright is that the ideal use of software simulations is different than training environments - and different than simple hotspot click-throughs in an eLearning too.
We don't just want a learner to do a simulation until they get it right. We want them to practice until they don't get it wrong.
This means you need to make space for simulation-based practice across multiple days. It's a perfect application of spaced repetition. And our customers reap the dividends. In a recent A/B test with a large insurance sales company, our customer found that agents who had been given simulations were 3x more proficient than new hires who got live walk-throughs, eLearning, and shadowing. They were at near-veteran system proficiency within days of being on the floor.
Interested in how to bring software simulations to your company's learning strategy? Reach out for more info today!