Sitecore Training Q and A

18th July 2014
News and Insights

A Q&A with Kagool's Head of Customer Engagement, Andrew Williams on the popular topic of Sitecore Training

Q

Let’s start by asking what the difference is between Sitecore’s training and our training?

Andrew Williams (AW)

Well, Sitecore’s training really is fundamental training for any person or organisation who has purchased Sitecore. It gives them the basic grounding in an object-based CMS and also introduces them to many of the features that they will find in their specific role.  Our training is slightly different in that we train on their actual implementation of Sitecore and every Sitecore implementation is unique. We implement within best practice, so our training allows us to train using real world scenarios that are applicable to them.

Q

So those are some of the benefits of training on their own instance of Sitecore.  Are there other areas we can add value when we’re doing it that way?

AW

Yes, absolutely.  I think it allows them users become familiar with the site build up their confidence as they learn with hands on experience.  As I said before, real world scenarios are great – we can go through individually tailored training to meet with some key objectives, pain points or scenarios where they’ve experienced issues with their CMS in the past.

Q

I guess that comes into play with a company website that’s very specific to their business, where you’ve got multilingual and/or multi-region content. That’s going to take custom training, right?

AW

Absolutely, especially with global organisations, multilingual, multi-region, familiarisation is crucial.  A core understanding of the information architecture and how the site has been structured from within a Sitecore perspective is also very useful.

Q

Okay, so what type of skills or roles do we train for – how do we approach that?

AW

It’s not really so much about roles as it is about stakeholders.  We tailor our training.  It’s entirely bespoke and we can cater for anyone, from a content editor to a content approver right through to a marketing director, who has an input or wants to be included in the workflow.  Sitecore has a workflow system that is modified and entirely configurable and we configure this to meet their needs. In the case of Sitecore DMS training, we often have to take a step back and consider business goals with the customer, together building up scenarios where DMS can add value.

Q

So could that include where they’re integrating with other systems?

AW

Absolutely.  Integrated systems where they might be pushing data in or out of a CRM.  Also translation systems, so where you have prospects, where you have a company that might actually have to send its content off because it’s been written in a master language, off to a localised translation service.  Again all of this can be covered in the workflow.

Q

So at what point then do we typically start training the first stakeholders?

AW

I think that entirely depends on the audience but the first people really that we start to get trained up are the content editors because these are the people that need access to the system in advance to get the content in.  We all know that a common bottleneck to websites launching on time can be actually entering or migrating content.  So we stage release functionality and train these content editors on that functionality and those objects that are in that release so that they can get started, get used to that area and proficient in it before we move on to the next release.

Q

Okay, so you’re giving back value straight away by breaking it down. The question then is really around who you’ll be training and where we do the training.  Where do we typically conduct the training?

AW

It can be held 50% probably at Kagool’ offices and 50% outside on the customer’s premises.  It also depends on the number of participants.  If you’ve got 5 to 10, they’re usually done on site at the customer’s offices, especially when you’re dealing with global organisations that have to busy schedules and getting key personnel involved.

Q

But I guess also because it’s tailored training, there’s an element of preparation that we do as an agency?

AW

Yes, exactly.  So there’ll be a scenario, we’ll come up with the syllabus.  We’ll also work with the organisation to find goals and outputs that are expected as a result of this training so they can measure against those and ensure that we’re delivering value.

Q

Who actually delivers the training?

AW

Fully accredited Sitecore staff, usually with at least 3 to 5 years’ experience delivering training, skills to match the roles of the audience.

Q

Here’s one that we get asked a lot.  What’s the difference between training and knowledge transfer or even innovation workshops that some people ask for?

AW

The way to look at training is it’s something that has a syllabus, it has a pre-defined set of goals, it’s taught to a set standard and we have agreed objectives.  Knowledge transfer is a slightly different process that is about delivering value over time in partnership with an organisation, and that can be anything from aiding someone’s performance in their role, or by education in digital thinking and emerging trends in the market, that might benefit the organisation.  I think partnership from which business improvement can be determined is really part of the knowledge transfer process.

Q

We haven’t touched on this before, but in terms of drivers for training, sometimes it can be experiencing frustration as much as trying to build something for the future.  So I guess that again determines the sort of delivery that we offer – right?

AW

Absolutely, yes, fully bespoke, tailored. As part of our preparation we might make a distinction between the skills gap and actually things that are fundamentally wrong in the implementation, meaning there’s a reason for them feeling frustrated.

Q

It would be useful to hear what the feedback has been from recent tailored Sitecore training sessions.

AW

We’ve delivered some training for a large multi-national company and we’ve run training sessions at their headquarters in London. The feedback from them has been very positive.   It’s very dependent on the stakeholders but if they see from the top down that it’s a powerful but intuitive system – and the training brings that across – then I think that helps buy-in at all levels.

Q

It comes back to what you said about confidence, it’s a lot about affirmation that the company has made  the right choice, they’ve got the right systems – it’s now a matter of getting on with it, right?

AW

Exactly.  There could be other reasons that localising content is a costly process but with a CMS that enables you to do most of that yourself. Maybe you can get rid of that cost and absorb it into a role that never previously did that content editing.  We’ve had lots of feedback like that as well, where business decisions have been made on the back of ease of use and the training that we provided. Sitecore is a customer engagement platform –  not just a CMS.  Business improvement and digital maturity is a road map and we work with the organisation to help them deliver and move them through those stages on that road map.

Q

You’ve touched on the fact that we give practical training with real output.  What are the sort of materials and takeaways that arise out of some of these training courses?

AW

You have your usual takeaways such as any sort of presentation slides or information like that.  We have provided access to demo sites that we’ve used so that attendees can still utilise the training environment to gain further familiarisation.  We’ve also done self help features that can go on intranets such as videos of key tasks that can be performed and they’re very useful.  Or there are crib sheets, FAQs. All these elements reaffirm the message that participants can go away and continue to gain value long after the training session has ended. In some cases, training for some organisations will be in advance of getting access to the system. And it can be that everything seems easy in a training session and they might forget about how to do some of these tasks a couple of months later down the line. So it’s about giving tangible outcomes or references for them to be able to refer to moving forward.

Q

That really does answer my final question around putting the skills into practice because a lot of task, as you say, seems easy in the training room – but come Monday morning they’ve got to start from scratch again. Does that sound familiar?

AW

Yes and I think if we can provide some self help information outputs from these training sessions, then that helps multiple stakeholders, regardless of their role. Training can be delivered in one in all of the ways we’ve talked about but also in line with the project life cycle.  So if there are key elements of a project under development, you obviously release little and often just so that training can coincide with those releases.

Q

I think we’ve heard from the feedback that stakeholders one of the key outcomes is giving users confidence in using all the power that Sitecore gives them – would you say that’s where the value lies?

AW

Absolutely and I think there’s always a way to be adaptive in this process as well and go back and deliver further follow on training as a refresher maybe towards the end. But yes, it’s a journey and we’re there training as a part of a strong customer-agency partnership.

Q

Great, thanks very much, Andrew.

Kagool offer tailored Sitecore training to our customers and other Sitecore users alike. Contact us to discuss your tailored training course.