Goals for This Chapter
This chapter is designed to help you:
- determine what technical training providers will need to perform new data entry, access new data entered by counterpart providers, and use new functionalities (e.g., flags, alerts, reports)
- identify training needs related to new and improved processes for service coordination
- determine what ongoing training support is needed, including training needs for newly hired staff.
Depending on what model of integration you choose, some providers may be using a completely new system. Training for these providers will require extra effort and time; it is important to anticipate these needs and build them into your project timeline. Even if providers will be using a familiar system, they will need to look in new places, enter new information, and/or understand new functionality.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How familiar are our providers with basic functions of the integrated data system? Are they learning a completely new system or will they only need training on how to use specific new features in a system with which they are already comfortable?
- Within each of our partnering organizations, will individual training needs change depending on role?
- How will we assess knowledge/skills gained during trainings?
- How often do we need to do refresher trainings? How will we handle new staff who are hired between training cycles?
The following are some critical lessons learned by those at the performance sites about technical trainings.
- Trainings are most effective when providers have multiple formats for learning, including opportunities for hands-on learning with actual data (e.g., giving providers a fictitious client and asking them to find or enter data about this client), screen share components to support visual learners, and trainings that are recorded and posted for later reference. Recorded trainings can also be used to successfully train newly hired staff.
- It can be helpful to have overall training for all provider roles coupled with specific, shorter trainings based on what an information provider will use most.
- Developing short manuals or “cheat sheets” for most-used information can facilitate effective provider use of the system.
- It is important to understand how confident providers feel using the new system and to check how well new data and functionality are being entered and used after training is completed. Be prepared that the training period may take longer than anticipated and some providers may need multiple training sessions to feel comfortable using new systems/new information.
Service Coordination Trainings
Although technical trainings are certainly critical, they are only as effective as the service coordination trainings that accompany them. If providers do not understand how to work with each other and use the new information available to them to enhance client services and outcomes, your data integration efforts might fall short of desired outcomes. Ensuring that providers understand the importance of new information and new workflows and how these changes should be integrated into their day-to-day activities is one of the most critical parts of a data integration project.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- What terms should we use to identify and define new and important information?
- What training do providers need to understand how each organization’s services contribute to overall client well-being?
- How can we best train providers on workflow changes?
- How will we monitor whether service coordination efforts are taking place?
The following are some critical lessons learned by those at the performance sites about service coordination training.
- Before effective service coordination can occur, it may be necessary to clarify definitions for variables and terminology that will be used for service coordination across provider agencies—both within the integrated data system and in conversations across providers.
- Joint trainings (i.e., trainings with providers from all participating organizations) can be highly effective for enhancing service coordination. These trainings are most effective when they include case studies or real-life examples of how each piece of information in the new data system can be used to enhance service coordination across organizations.
- Without specific trainings in service coordination, providers may not understand how they should use the new information available to them or why they should take on additional data entry/client coordination tasks.
Ongoing Training Support
During the lead-up to and initial launch of the integrated data system, there is typically a focus on training in new system functions and how to use them. After the system launch, training funds and focus could wane. However, ongoing training can be as important as initial training to ensure the successful use of the newly integrated system. In addition to planning for these ongoing trainings, you will also want to ensure that training on the integrated system and service coordination are thoroughly integrated into the onboarding process for newly hired staff.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- How often should we offer booster or refresher trainings? How will we know when they are needed?
- How will we train staff on any new functionality added or new information available after initial launch of the integrated system?
- How will we ensure new staff are trained on system functionalities and service coordination processes?
The following are some critical lessons learned by those at the performance sites about ongoing training support.
- Making electronic training materials available to all providers (e.g., posting online or in a central repository that providers can access) allows them to check their understanding at any point in time and avoids the need for calls to the in-house data manager or vendor support line. Online trainings can also be used with newly hired staff.
- Providing cheat sheets and user manuals that distill training information into easily digestible formats can greatly enhance ongoing use of the new system.
- Ongoing joint trainings are an effective way to continue to build rapport across providers and enhance coordination efforts.
- Staff turnover can be a significant challenge for provider organizations. In order to ensure the ongoing use and success of the integrated data system, the onboarding process for new staff must include training on service coordination and use of the integrated data system.