Software plays a vital role in business success. From proprietary, in-house solutions to emerging cloud-based and mobile applications, software helps companies stay the course — and stay ahead of the curve.

The challenge? Software doesn’t use itself. Effective software training can help ensure that staff have the skills and knowledge they need to capitalize on operational potential.

Benefits of Software Training

Well-educated employees offer several benefits for businesses.

First is improved performance. While automated features and functions are now a key part of software tools, effective application use depends on humans in the loop. The combination of powerful software and well-trained staff can help streamline operations and reduce the time required to complete key tasks.

Next is increased engagement. According to recent survey data, 70% of staff say they haven’t mastered the job skills they need today, and 64% of managers are worried that employees won’t be able to keep pace with future business needs. Not surprisingly, lacking skill comes with increased frustration — if staff feel like they’re constantly in over their heads, it’s hard to keep them engaged. Comprehensive training, meanwhile, helps put the power back into the hands of staff and encourages better engagement.

Last but not least is enhanced return on investment (ROI). When staff have the skills to fully utilize software, they’re better equipped to think outside the box and find new ways to maximize the impact of software across the organization.

Four Steps for Software Success

Effective software training isn’t accomplished with one-off sessions or the occasional education update. Instead, it’s a multistep, repeatable process.

Step 1: Acknowledge the impact

Software doesn’t exist in isolation. No matter how useful the tool or how innovative the approach, software only works when employees are ready and willing to use it. As a result, businesses can’t afford to ignore the impact of software on staff.

Consider the adoption of a new solution that’s replacing a legacy tool. While it may be objectively better, staff familiar with old systems may be reluctant to switch. By taking the time to acknowledge their concerns and articulate the benefit of new tools, however, companies can streamline the adoption process.

Step 2: Provide in-depth education

Once staff are on board, education can begin in earnest. Here, businesses have two broad options: handle training in-house or connect with experienced providers that offer in-depth IT training courses. Many of these courses are now available in-person, online or as a combination of both, making them ideal for companies with hybrid or remote workforces.

Step 3: Offer ongoing support

Education doesn’t end when training courses wrap up. As business needs evolve and software tools receive updates, the “best” way to complete tasks may change. To help staff navigate this evolving landscape, companies must offer ongoing support. For example, businesses might create a self-service knowledge base that lets staff quickly find answers to software questions themselves, rather than creating an IT ticket.

Step 4: Keep staff in the loop

Software isn’t static. New tools and technologies are constantly in development, and even best-in-class systems eventually go out of date. To help smooth the transition and get a jump on employee education, keep staff in the loop about any initiatives and, wherever possible, give them a chance to try out new tools before they’re deployed at scale.

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Software is constantly evolving to meet changing business needs. As a result, staying ahead of the curve requires both initial and ongoing education to ensure that staff have the skills and knowledge they need to make best use of existing tools, incorporate new solutions and find innovative approaches to digital operations.

Bottom line? Software training helps improve present performance, boost ongoing engagement and set the stage for future success.

Software Training 101 this infographic was contributed by ExitCertified, your first stop for AWS training courses