3 steps to cross-train IT staff on processes

Today we have so much information it’s coming out of hard drives onto flash memory and distilling into the cloud at high speeds. As the ability to generate more information increases, the need to store and share that information is critical. There are some great options for storage, and even for sharing, however the ability to process that information is the most important component in keeping you and your clients’ organizations moving.

Most consultants, independent contractors and support staff work with a number of clients or end users. As those relationships grow, the consultant/contractor amasses a good deal of knowledge specific to that individual client or organization. What happens, though, when the person with the knowledge is unavailable, either temporarily or permanently?

The consequences can be disastrous. Preventing that outcome is a critical goal, and the secret lies in cross-training co-workers.

Cross-training as it relates to business is not new, but I rarely see it implemented with respect to technology and serving clients or end users. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, cross-training prepares individuals who have a certain job description to do the jobs of others in case those individuals are unable to perform their duties.

I suggest implementing the following three steps to cross-train staff when it comes to working with end-users or clients.

Assign at least two staff members to your client

Cross Train Staff Blues Brothers

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Notice I didn’t say, the (entire) staff should know the client. As a consultant, get to know the in-house technology staff. This is critical because without that relationship there can be no trust. Trust is crucial in a client-vendor relationship because we’re often dealing with technology issues that the clients don’t fully understand. This step is easy to implement – make sure that there are two people handling the client’s needs. It’s not necessary to have equal division; it shouldn’t be a 95/5 split. 80/20 will work just as well.

Document everything, and collaborate on it

Cross Trainer Sneakers

Image via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve shouted from the rooftops about the need for proper documentation, and even how to share it. Make sure that all clients have some easily-shareable repository of relevant information and that staff members have appropriate permissions to it.

Conduct routine meetings

If a client has a major change to its structure, employees, finances or other element of importance, it should be shared. A client that questions your organization’s ability to communicate internally will often question your ability to serve them overall. I’m using the term “meeting” loosely, because a quick phone call, text or email can get the job done, depending on the gravity of the change.

Clients and end users love when they can call on an organization and receive the same caliber of service regardless of the individual handling their issue. An organization that invests in cross-training goes a long way to build customer loyalty. We have a saying at our office – handle customer data as if you’re going to get hit by a truck on your way home. In this case, the hyperbole illustrates the importance of sharing information and organizational continuity.

Jeremy Lesniak
Based in Vermont, Jeremy Lesniak is managing editor at aNewDomain.net and founder of Vermont Computing, Inc. and whistlekick.com. Email him [email protected]
Jeremy Lesniak
Jeremy Lesniak
Tags: Business,Business Management