In my last column I wrote about how everyone is different in how they learn to use business management software, but over the years I’ve learned that we all go through a generally similar learning curve. In these next two columns, I hope to illustrate how this learning process works.

There are two main kinds of people who exist when it comes to learning to use a new data management system.

The first category of user I call the casual user. They seek to acquire just enough knowledge to be able to do the bare minimum they need to get by, and their learning stops right there. There’s nothing wrong with this approach — it’s just that these people either don’t need to learn any more or don’t feel doing so will have much benefit in their daily work. There is a limit to the amount of time and effort they need to put in to learn the software.

Others go further in their learning and become what I call a power user. They usually seek to acquire more training over and above what they already have. Those are the people who get the full value of their investment in software.

Casual users require a minimal investment of time from their software provider. They know what they want and need to learn, so training is minimal.

Power users, because they put fewer, if any, limits on their learning, want and need a greater investment of time from their provider in terms of training. And because they are keen to engage in an extended learning process, don’t necessarily know what they need to learn. It’s only once they embark on their learning journey that they discover just how involved data management can get.

Power users face unique challenges in their learning. They need a long-term software provider who is willing to partner with them to help them in their learning. Power users tend to want to be competitive and want their business to grow and survive; they need to partner with a technology vendor and not just buy an out-of-the-box software product like the casual user tends to do.

Stay tuned for my next column, in which I’ll describe how a dedicated software provider makes all the difference in helping a “super user” to be successful.

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