Technology

What's Terrible About Software Training


A lighthearted look at how vendors seem to go out of their way to make learning to use their applications overcomplicated and expensive

Thank you for purchasing this software product. We at MicroBugs are fully committed to ensuring that you use our product as effectively as possible. To accomplish this goal, we are providing you with some information concerning your software training.

Training is absolutely required to use our products. Even though business applications have been around for decades, we at MicroBugs have done our very best to make the interface as difficult as we can so that it will be impossible for you to really figure out how to use the software without some training.

Classes are available through our partner network or directly from us. We understand that the cost of training will vary depending on many variables, but please expect to spend thousands of dollars.

We do provide manuals and plenty of documentation on our Web site. All you need to do is download them and print them out. Please contact your representative at either Staples (SPLS) or Office Depot (ODP) to arrange for the extra reams of paper and ink you will need. Also, because of cost-cutting measures in the wake of today's competitive environment, we have not been able to fully review and update all materials. References to 3.5-in floppy disks, dot-matrix printers, Top Gun, and St. Elmo's Fire must be considered in this light.

Choose Your Poison

We have many ways in which you can be trained to use our product.

One method is in the classroom. We provide this training at our state-of-the-art facilities in Fargo, N.D., from mid-December through mid-March. There are two cargo flights, three snowmobiles, and a bobsled serving Fargo daily. Although we have the right to cancel our training events without notice, we will be unable to refund your payment if you are unable to make it to our facility due to weather conditions or other factors.

Classroom training is taught by one of our skilled technical support representatives. There will be no relevant demo data in our system, and we cannot be responsible for delays due to hardware problems or if your instructor is called out of the class to handle support issues, again due to our short staffing.

Our classroom training is designed to cover all aspects of our product, regardless of whether you need it. Please be prepared to spend at least half of your time learning how to configure our application to use on the Space Shuttle, troubleshoot errors that occur when interfacing with a Univac server, and addressing the very unique needs of fellow participants.

Direct to Your Desktop!

If you prefer not to attend our classroom training, we have many online training options as well.

During these online training sessions you will be provided with a conference call number. Of course, other participants will also be on the call and it is likely that at least one person will put us on hold during the call; Muzak from the 1970s, with heavy doses of Barry Manilow and the Carpenters, will be played.

During our online training sessions we suggest referring to ESPN.com, DrudgeReport.com, and HOTorNOT.com. These sites have nothing to do with the software training, but we recognize that you will be surfing to these sites anyway and figured that we should include these references in advance.

If you prefer to receive training at your facility, we are happy to accommodate. We can travel directly to your offices and provide one-on-one or group training as you desire. This way we can tailor the lesson plan directly for your needs and triple your project costs. On-site training is available for most places in Hawaii, California, and Florida. We'll consider training in New Jersey if you are willing to throw in a visit to the Hooters in Times Square.

An Asterisk or Two

Our consultants charge $5,000 a day and will need to stay at your nearest Hyatt resort. Out-of-pocket expenses are extra. To keep costs under your budget, we are happy to use chauffeured town cars instead of limousines and will only order the house wine at lunch and dinner.

We strongly urge that you agree to some type of training and that this training is received after you have purchased our product. Some companies in the past have elected to risk a few dollars up front and get some basic training before purchase. As a result, they were able to more fully test our product, question other participants in classes who were already using our product, and challenge our instructors, who are not salespeople and not themselves trained to give vague answers to specific questions. This has sometimes caused companies to rethink their purchase of our products, resulting in significant financial harm to us.

Please do not assign any one person in your company to be responsible for the software training. Other customers have designated these "super users" or "project managers" as an internal single point of contact for questions and support. Having this one person on staff generally reduces a customer's reliance on our training and support services. This too can result in significant financial harm to our organization.

We at MicroBugs hope this information has been helpful. As with our stance on our software, we take absolutely no responsibility for the training we provide. We remain liability-free in the event that our training is inaccurate, unreliable, or error-prone. So that we can fix the mistakes that we should have fixed initially, make our training products better than when you first purchased them, and give evidence to a potential investor that we have positive future cash flow, you may also subscribe to our annual training maintenance program.

Gene Marks, CPA, is the owner of the Marks Group, which sells customer relationship, service, and financial management tools to small and midsize businesses. Marks is the author of four best-selling small business books and writes the popular "Penny Pincher's Almanac" syndicated column. He frequently speaks to business groups on penny-pinching topics. More penny-pinching advice from Marks can be found at www.quickerbetterwiser.com.

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