Significant enhancements to Tigerpaw’s software in Version 16.1 will also require some major upgrades to content.
OMAHA – Tigerpaw Software was relatively slow off the mark in adopting a formalized and systematic approach to training partners. The last five years has seen a significant increase in focus on this however. This led to the creation of Tigerpaw Academy last year, to enhanced training offerings this year, and will lead to the implementation of advanced training courses next year.
“I was brought on five years ago specifically to implement a more formalized approach around training,” said Suzy Kratochvil, Tigerpaw’s director of training and implementation. “Before that, there was no set curriculum. Training was informal and done on an on-demand basis. The emphasis was on getting more customers in the door. Training wasn’t disregarded, but it wasn’t top priority.”
Kratochvil said that things changed with James Foxall’s accession to the CEO role five years ago.
“James had been at Tigerpaw since he was 15, but he was also new at the CEO job, and he had a list of things he wanted to accomplish from a training and implementation standpoint.”
Kratochvil said that five years ago, training through the website involved signing up for live courses, two Q&A sessions a week.
“On May 18, 2015, we launched a new website, which had been completely created from scratch,” she said. “We took our existing content and reworked it into courses, which were online and self-paced, with quizzes.”
When the new Tigerpaw Academy site launched, they had 12 courses. They now have 21 courses with over 325 individual videos and recorded webinars.
“Until the Tigerpaw Academy launch, owners never had a way to determine how much education their staff had taken,” Kratochvil said. “There was no certificate, and there was no point system.”
The launch of the Academy also saw the curriculum get an overhaul.
“We looked at the curriculum, and we found there were videos that were over an hour long,” Kratochvil stated. “We monitored it and found that nobody watched them because they were way too long. They needed to be in bite sized pieces – ten minutes max – to make them usable. Making several videos out of them also improves retention rate by reinforcing things with a step approach.”
Gamification was added to the site in March 2016. It gives points and awards badges for things like watching videos and completing courses.
“The gamification has been very successful,” Kratochvil noted. “We knew before how many were taking courses, but now we can see people immediately engaging because there are points and a leader board. In nine months, over 3000 people have been engaged.”
“We’ve seen since the gamification came out that some people are competitive and respond well to this,” said James Foxall, Tigerpaw’s CEO. “I personally don’t care about a virtual badge on a screen, but some people do, a lot. This also gives the company itself a way to benchmark and reward progress.”
Training is of little value unless the owner and leadership of the company buy in and espouse its worth, Kratochvil said.
“You can have the best software in the world, but if the end user cannot use it, it’s worthless,” she indicated. Owners should want their employees to be properly trained on what’s important to the company. That’s why we solicit feedback to the degree that we do. Organizations will benefit by turning their own organizations into a learning culture. A lot aren’t there yet, but it will help their business.”
One decision that Tigerpaw has made is not to compel training by making it mandatory – as many IT vendors do – requiring that a specific number of people be trained, and using that as an element of partner compensation in pegging training to partner tiering.
“There is a carrot or stick approach here, and we have taken the carrot more than the stick approach,” Foxall said. “We have a 1-800 support line that anyone can call, not just a specific champion. We don’t make them get certified before they call. We don’t give Master-certified people a discount when they call. We have imposed no restrictions to date. We want to be considered the friendly partner. There can be a slippery slope if you go the other way.”
One change that is coming is the introduction of more in-depth training courses.
“We need to put in an advanced curriculum,” Kratochvil said. “That’s the next phase – a lot of in depth functionality. We will have seven courses in the coming year to provide more advanced content, that goes beyond the Level 101. Right now that doesn’t exist.”
Major changes are also coming to the project management course, because of major enhancements made in Version 16.1 of Tigerpaw’s software.
“We will start updating the project management course because of the new functionality when we get back in the office on Monday,” Kratochvil said. “We typically do the curriculum development after the release, not before, because we need to have the information stable. We do documentation before the release but not the actual training.”