This post was originally published on lessonly.com.
It takes thoughtful consideration to curate the right mix of enablement tools to set up employees on a path toward ongoing success—and training software and a knowledge base are a perfect pair for growing teams. They’re like peanut butter and jelly, salt and pepper, bacon and eggs, or macaroni and cheese. These food duos are just ripe for the picking! (See what we did there?)
Before we get cooking, there’s a subtle but important difference between tools that drive higher productivity and tools that enable. Let’s dive into that.
The right mix
Productivity tools broadly accelerate daily work through automation or digitization. In short, they make work more efficient. Enablement tools, on the other hand, increase effectiveness through the application of training, knowledge, direction, and feedback. In other words, they make work more effective. It’s an important distinction for sales and support teams to make when entering a period of rapid scaling, where the importance of training employees is at the forefront.
Let’s take a look at a few real-life examples. A McKinsey study found that 20% of an employee’s day is wasted simply trying to find the information they need to do their job. That’s a productivity problem. On the other hand, this study from CSO Insights found that effective sales training can help new reps meet quota up to seven weeks faster than the industry average. That’s an example of enablement at work.
Put the two together and you’ll fulfill the main purpose of training and development, to enhance employee efficiency and effectiveness. And effective knowledge transfer is a key inhibitor to team productivity. An enablement strategy takes the benefits of training and development to organizations and injects them at the exact point of need.
Why is training software important?
Both the success of the individual employee and the success of the company start with onboarding. With poorly managed training, this can be a confusing time with information coming from all directions. The sheer volume of training can be intimidating. Training software accelerates the onboarding process and addresses four notable benefits for those asking themselves why training is important:
- Enables rapid creation of training content
- Captures best practices and tips from experts
- Streamlines the sales process
- Provides key metric measurements
While attending in-classroom sessions, conferences and summits are certainly powerful learning opportunities that bear the benefits of training for individuals, they do not scale quite as effectively as training software does. Utilizing software for training affords employees more flexibility, particularly in modern remote and hybrid settings where the importance of training and development is felt more strongly in the absence of in-person mentorship.
Why use a knowledge base?
A knowledge base accelerates individual work for those with a self-serve mindset. An internal wiki or knowledge base can be a helpful resource for employees that need frequent access to content, notes, snippets or documentation to progress their daily work. Knowledge base software has a slew of benefits that are similar to training software:
- Reduces shoulder-taps and interruptions that prevent other team members from focusing on their own work
- Increases employee autonomy
- Expands transparency of policies, best practices and knowledge
Self-serve support seems like a simple channel to establish. Step 1: Procure a wiki. Step 2: Fill it with knowledge. Step 3: Profit! Not so fast—unfortunately, it’s not quite that easy.
The challenges with managing and sharing internal knowledge are:
- It needs to be accessible at the point of need—often where questions are asked. Otherwise, support seekers will default to shoulder-taps and interruptions, reducing team-wide productivity.
- Knowledge gets siloed, causing frustration among support seekers.
- There can be a lack of trust in the quality of knowledge.
Knowledge bases need to be selected with consideration of existing workflows. It’s a little different than deploying the training software we mentioned earlier. Training software, a tool that acknowledges the importance of training and development in employee performance and evaluation, is often utilized in planned training blocks of time. Knowledge bases are accessed based on immediate need, often amidst regular daily work. So, the closer that your internal knowledge exists from your team’s common workflows, the higher the chance of success of the self-serve support strategy.
Matching training software with a knowledge base
Unfortunately, a knowledge base on its own isn’t a tool that is effective enough to enable new employees to reach peak performance. The same applies for training software. In isolation, it simply addresses part of the solution. But together, a knowledge base and training software establish the foundation for a formidable enablement stack. That’s why training software and a knowledge base are a perfect pair – they compliment enablement strategies in different stages of the employee workflow.
That’s not to say that an employee won’t access the corporate wiki while using training software. Likewise, there’s no reason to believe that an employee won’t seek a refresher by repeating a lesson found in training software months or years after onboarding. Sometimes, you need formal training and sometimes you need a quick answer to an issue in daily work. Having both a knowledge base and training software, makes for a comprehensive enablement toolset that addresses the benefits of training and development in an organization holistically.
Matching these two technologies together creates harmony in the workplace enablement stack. One is aimed at delivering knowledge in planned learning blocks, and the other is accessible at the point of need amid productive work time. Training software and a knowledge base, they go together like PB&J.