By: Christina Ravaglia
Trainers and doc writers are really product managers, where their product is information and their user is the training audience.
Writing User Stories
To deliver optimal training and documentation, plan it like a product manager. Always start by asking yourself:
- Who is using my training product?
Then write a broad user story to keep you focused on meeting the goals of your audience. A user story is structured like this:
As a user type I want to get trained so I can goal.
For example, a new engineer will want training on the product that he is working on so he can plan a technical solution more effectively for updated features and reduce rework. When creating training for an engineer, you would write a user story like this:
As an Engineer, I want product training so I can work faster.
The user story will differ depending on your audience. Here are some examples:
Understanding Your Audience Needs Based on User (Audience) Personas
One size doesn’t fit all for training. You have a lot of options for delivering information – online help, live training, self-paced online training, webinars, videos, tip sheets, exercises, and so on. You will need to understand how your audience prefers to consume information to meet their goals so you can deliver the information in the most effective way for each audience.
Product managers build personas to understand how different users prefer to interact with the world and are likely to use their products. For each audience you have, write down their goals, find out what other products or technology they are accustomed to, and specify their demographics (age, gender, etc). Give each persona a face and name by describing a representative user, and validate your persona with real users and real statistics. For example, 80% of software engineers in 2017 are men, so I need to make my engineer male. Here are some quick examples of personas you might create:
With the above personas you might conclude that your engineers would prefer a self-paced online training including a searchable knowledge base for reference, while your sales staff would prefer an in-person training with a PowerPoint deck with notes as a reference document.
Your training itself will highlight information most valuable to each audience. For example, engineers might want to ensure they understand some troubleshooting tips, while sales staff might want to understand how certain features match to a competitor’s feature that a prospect may ask about.
Once you understand your users and their goals, you can design, create, and deliver effective training to meet your user’s needs. In my next blog post I’ll talk about why you want to deliver a minimum viable product, measure its success, and then iterate as you develop it further.
Christina Ravaglia leads the Product Training and Documentation team for NICE Satmetrix. Her team delivers all product training and help resources to customers and all internal teams. She has held senior product management roles for 13 years and is a certified ScrumMaster.
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