A friend on mine once made a rather remarkable observation. The effectiveness of the Ministry for External Affairs should be measured through a reverse correlation with the country’s spending on defense, he argued. The proposition is quite bullet proof because the former’s good show should most likely decrease the latter. The parallel in software products (or perhaps any product) is the relationship between Usability and Training. The more usable and intuitive to use the product, lesser the organization should spend on training. Actually, I would recommend that one goes a step further – make it a target for the product design and usability team to reduce training expenses by x percent. And promise that the savings will be ploughed back into setting up a usability lab for the team. Remember, Usability is an investment, training is an expense. Apple i-pods don’t ship with an instruction manual.
I will find some time to write about delivering training for products (after all, if many take this post seriously the entire need for providing training may disappear very fast!). The current general practice of sending trainers to the client base is broken.