Choffee/ thoughtsplurge/ posts/ 2007/ 03/ 09/ computer training

Should all staff be trained in MS Access?

As part of one of the government initiates for IT they require all of their staff who use computers to go through the Computer Driver training course. This might be considered great and for a lot of people it is probably a real help at the start. It gives them a good grounding in what to do with the big scary box on the desk how to make it do some of the stuff that they might want it to. This is a good thing as computers are still not as simple as they could be ( considering the type of tasks that most uses want to accomplish they are hellishly over complex) but at what level should it stop?

I propose that the average user should not be sent on a course to learn how to do complex spreadsheets or databases but should instead be sent for training on how to set out what they are trying to achieve. This would then aide the Business and IT analysis to fit what they are doing in with the rest of the business needs and stop the them wasting their valuable time creating another copy of the data.

Take for instance the average database that is created. It will have a fairly poor user interface (They are very hard to do properly). It will probably duplicate data found elsewhere in the business. It will probably, if my experience is anything to go by, mean re-entering data that is held electronically elsewhere and more than likely overlap more than one other database or report elsewhere in the business.

My proposal is simple. Train the users in defining what they want to do, not how they want to do it. By this I mean not asking for an access database but asking for a way that their staff can change or report on a set of data. Then hand this off to somebody who has a larger understanding of the business systems and can slot your request into it with ease. Then get staff who understand user interfaces, the tools they are using and the business systems to code the required extensions to the main applications in a structured manor.

I think that this can work but it takes a large shift in how managers see IT. It has to be less of a basic support need and more of a crucial part of the business. The benefits of that swanky new billing system or customer management platform are fully dependent on the end users being able to spec out what they want and then for that to be integrated in a timely manner. The main change in this will be that you don't see the major costs of an IT project being soft and hard wares but in the people who are implementing the solutions.

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