Nearly all of our support requests from customers have been covered in the initial installation and implementation training. Like sport, the phrase "Use it or lose it" also applies and I have a lot of sympathy for lab staff who are moved around from task to task without having time to either bed down their own knowledge, or share it with other colleagues.
Surveys show that in Southern Africa, and probably for the North as well, managers complain most about having unskilled staff. At the same time, there seems to be a "Grudge Purchase" attitude towards purchasing adequate training.
Things move too fast and change too often expect technical staff to just be able to pick up new software, instruments and technologies as they go along. In any case, sufficient time is never available for learning.
We make it a point in our business to trace users regularly and see if our installed systems are still up and running, and all too often we have to implement a rescue plan.
Apart from typical user skills not being taught in the first place, IT plays a fairly disruptive role in the smooth operation of systems. Firstly, there is the dreaded upgrade. Whenever software and hardware changes are made, we can be sure that system First Aid will be required. Often these upgrades are carried out without any consultation regarding their implications or impact on Laboratory Staff productivity.
Secondly, the rapid staff turnover or change. Often, a key person trained on site leaves shortly afterwards, and even if its temporary like Maternity Leave, it is usually 100% Disruptive.
Laboratory mergers, moves to new sites and simple cuts are also responsible for extremely stressed conditions. Another danger area is senior managers who insist on being trained, but who never actually put hands on the equipment later. They seldom have or take the time to pass down the required knowledge to ensure their whole user team is capable of carrying out the required tasks.
Another huge issue is time. To schedule a training visit takes more time than the training itself.
So what to do?
1. Take training offers whether free or reasonably priced as often as possible.
2. Budget training time as well as funds
3. Appoint a responsible person to deliver a result, not man a station
4. Allow Laboratory Staff a decent internet connection. The IT guys can monitor it for abuse, but don't limit the user too much, they must be free to look up terms and definitions, or joining supplier websites for Webinars.
5. Why not actually encourage reading a manual? These days they are very well written and usually cover all the FAQ's. When supplied in PDF form, they are also word searchable, which also saves time.
Before you over promote and over task a technical staff member, count the cost of their inability to actually manage the tasks that you have specified.
We invite you to take part in our training options, webinars etc.