Training is a fantastic idea. In order to secure real adoption from any workforce, or actual realisation of software’s worth, it is an absolute necessity. But it is not the be-all and end-all and it is definitely NOT a replacement for good usability.

I admit that I am primarily thinking of software and web-applications rolled out to a corporate organisation … but that’s because this is the field I work in currently. And too often my own IT organisation seems to have focused too much on training and not enough on the usability of the system. The net result: the “roll out and run” phenomenon, leading to reduced use and realised utility of a system over a period of time.

Let’s think about it this way: say we develop a fantastic new product called EasyRelationships (ER). When we roll it out, we train the entire organisation on how to manage their relationships using ER. Everybody is able to make full use of the software and it makes everyone’s lives much better. The onus of training new people in the organisation is left distributed amongst the users themselves … they should train new members of their teams, etc, according to how the team tends to use the software.

Ideal? No. Functional? For a while. Unfortunately, those who use a system are not necessarily the best trainers. Also, if the system is easy to use, they assume it’s obvious to anyone new to the system … it isn’t, so system abuse begins. On the other hand, if it’s NOT easy to use, then over time their gripes with the usability issues of the software increase (as the shininess of the new tech rubs off with use) and all you hear are complaints. People begin to talk about the software as useless and a waste of time. This is essentially de-training creep.

Now that I’ve had my little rant about the whole “Training is everything” paradigm, I’ll finally get round to the TUBA scoring system that came into being as a result of this week’s OK/Cancel cartoon. Although as the discussions note this might not be the ultimate paradigm for feasibility tests as well as production planning, it is still a very handy and eloquent weapon to be added to the arsenal we now have for convincing developers, backers, business people and anyone else who happens to pick a fight with us in the street, that Usability is a Good Thing (TM).