Implementing a New System: Why Training Reinforcement is Critical

2017-bl-emea-training-centre-page-imageIt all sounds familiar: You attend a training course that you are excited about. You spend two or more days soaking up new information. You take notes diligently. Before you know it, the training is over. You go back to the office. And after a while, it happens: The new knowledge fades.

You're not alone. It is estimated that up to 80 percent of what we learn from training courses are lost within 30 days—unless the knowledge is reinforced. This is true for the CAPA-investigation class that you attended and the software training on the new quality system that your company is implementing.

Jonathan Crowther, director of education at MasterControl Inc., said that many companies invest a lot of money in a new quality and compliance system, but they overlook the importance of properly educating their employees on the new system and reinforcing the training. "Education is integral to system implementation, and it should be continuous," he said. "For training to be effective, the employee has to apply what was learned—otherwise, all of the time, money, and effort spent on the training is wasted. That means training doesn't end when trainees leave the session."

Training Reinforcement

At MasterControl's 2012 Masters Conference recently held in Nice, France, Crowther made a presentation on "education as a critical tool for reducing risk in the implementation of a new system." He said training reinforcement can be a powerful tool when it comes to changing the learning culture within an organization. "Training reinforcement improves an organization's performance and bottom line," he added.

How do you reinforce new-system training? Crowther, who conducts software training for new MasterControl customers, said there are many ways to do it, but the key is to reinforce training without disrupting day-to-day operations. He suggested the following simple ways:

  • Keep activities short: Have the user read one "help" feature every week and then ask the user to e-mail a summary of the topic covered. This should take no more than five minutes.
  • Be consistent in requiring training reinforcement activities: Ask a user to train another user on a new attribute learned the week before. The key is to make the user accountable by asking, "What new feature did you learn last week?" and "How will you teach another user about it?"
  • Draw upon real-world application: Ask users who have tried the new system to send a brief description of their experience using the system. The key is to require real-world activity to ensure application of the training content.

Regulated companies should remember that educating users about a new quality and compliance system is as critical as installing the system. After all, the new system can only be truly successful if there is wide user acceptance, if individual users are using it successfully in their work, and if it is helping them accomplish the company's business and compliance goals.

Cindy Fazzi, a copywriter at MasterControl Inc., writes about the life science industry and other regulated environments. Her two decades of experience as a news reporter, writer, and editor includes working for the Associated Press in Ohio and New York. She has a master's degree in journalism from Ohio State University.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of his/her employer, GxP Lifeline, its editor or MasterControl, Inc.