Agile Sitecore Training – Part 1 of 3
This post is the first in a series discussing applying agile practices to training for Sitecore products.
Over the past few years, I have been uncovering different ways to deliver training. To help people retain what is taught, I want to deliver in a way that involves more doing. This is different than just dispensing information through lectures.
One document that I found helpful was the Manifesto for Agile Software Development. It was a watershed moment when I started applying the manifesto to instructional design. Although designed for developing better software, the principles could be applied to other disciplines.
Individuals and Interactions
The first way I apply this principle is by getting to know the trainees. It’s not just about the material that I am familiar with, but it is about the audience receiving this training. Most pointedly, the person who’s paying to learn something.
On the customer side, I like to first talk to someone who understands the learning needs of the business. On a new Sitecore XM build, this could be a business analyst or senior content author. I want to know why they are asking for this training.
Typically, the trainees have never heard of Sitecore XM but they have been using content management systems for many years. Another typical scenario is that before using a Sitecore product, someone from IT would build the page instead of a business user. To understand the skills and experience of the trainees, I send a pre-course survey to the trainees. This is important because although the senior person might know the business reasons for the training (or they are the person paying for it!), they may not know the experience level and knowledge of the trainees.
If I find out that most of the participants are certified in a Sitecore product, I will review the latest syllabus from Sitecore before sending my own. I won’t plan on covering those topics (unless the customer insists on a refresher.
I’m still a Business Analyst 🙂
Designing, building, and implementing top-notch experiences not only requires a great deal of planning, strategy, and time – it also requires the right digital experience platform (DXP) and the right development approach for your business needs.
My next step is to perform a knowledge gap analysis. This will help me determine what topics should be covered in the syllabus. Let’s say most of the trainees have been certified, but it was on an earlier version of Sitecore XM. In this case, I would cover feature changes from the version they used. I would also let them know what knowledge they have which hasn’t changed (such as how to create a Data Template).
This updated syllabus would then be sent to the customer to consider, listing all the topics that I plan to cover. Usually, this is the point where they will give me feedback on whether what I am proposing fits their needs.
If there is a topic that needs to be covered that is not something I am familiar with, then I look for an assist. Here at Perficient, I have over 7000 colleagues worldwide to whom I can reach out for information. Our Sitecore/Optimizely business unit is comprised of technical and business colleagues who can cover any CMS topic.
Additionally, I am grateful for the worldwide Sitecore Community. I can’t speak enough about how much they helped me understand and master Sitecore products.
Even if you come from a smaller company than Perficient, you can always consider tapping into the Sitecore community. To be clear, you are not asking somebody to sit down with you for 40 hours to create a one-hour training. What you’re finding out is who may have written a blog or submitted code to GitHub which already provides the knowledge you seek.
Now of course in the training, if I do get some outside sources to help with a particular topic, I ensure to give appropriate credit. For example, if I do not have experience with Sitecore 10’s full support for containers, but I have a colleague or community member who has written a blog on the subject. I will reference them in the training and make sure the trainees know where to go for further learning.
Processes and Tools
Although understanding the audience and having frequent interactions with different customer contacts is most important, processes and tools cannot be forgotten.
As a regular habit, I ensure the trainees have a copy of the final syllabus in the meeting invite for the session. The syllabus will be attached for all attendees.
Regarding tools, if you’re going to use PowerPoint, make sure that you’re not fumbling with how to share your screen. Practice swapping between sharing a screen and sharing a specific window. A trainer loses credibility when they cannot perform simple tasks. Don’t experiment while on a call with a brand-new customer. If you want to use a new tool, practice it with your colleagues first.
If you’d like a partner who can help you with customized CMS (especially Sitecore or Optimizely) training in your projects, reach out to your Perficient account manager, or use our contact page to begin a conversation.