The importance of upskilling with your software’s updatesAugust 8th, 2019
You know that thing — someone shows you some neat short-cut on a piece of software you use every day, and you think, “Damn I wish I’d known that earlier” while your mind does some depressing calculations of how much time you’d have saved, this month alone, not using the schleppy workaround you have been. Yeah, that. Frustrating!
We caught up with Ross King, Total Synergy’s swiss army knife of brilliant, digital design, as he walked back into the office from the 2019 Adobe Symposium. We grilled him about why conference attendance and continued software training are so vital. We asked what he got out of something like the symposium, professionally speaking. Is it just a pretty junket, or is there something more important happening there? And why is he smiling so much? Did they spike the punch?
Keeping up with the update
“Adobe were showing off lots of the new workflows that they’d launched in the software” Ross said. “Because I use a lot of their Adobe Creative Suite every day, I know how to do pretty much everything I need to. But now they’ve changed a lot of the ways you can do different tasks, and they’ve added new functionality.”
Rossco’s eyes are almost freakishly flashy as he’s talking about this. The man is clearly psyched after his Adobe adventure.
“Because, up until this event, I’ve never gone back to it and upskilled to look into what’s possible now, I still do things the same way as I was doing them 10, 15 years ago. I’ve got a way that works, so I keep doing it that way.
“But a lot of the features they were showing were new, quicker ways of working. To give you an idea — when you have an image of a person, and you want to remove the background. Before you’d have to manually draw around the outline, and then blend, and then do intricate hairs and things like that individually, and it would take a lot of time. Ages. Well, there’s a button that you can press now, and it will just cut the subject out of the background … even with a very detailed background. With just a click of one button.”
Learning easier methodologies and shortcuts for carrying out your work is a major benefit of upskilling with your software, but that’s not where it ends. New features in your software, updates in functionality, mean that retraining in its use over time enables you to do cool, new stuff with it too. Stuff that makes you more effective in your work. Same software, more value.
“The symposium made me think about Synergy,” says Ross, “think about the features we’ve got now compared to when we launched — planning board, project performance, portals and all that stuff, there’s loads in there that people just might not know about.
“I think utilizing your software properly is about searching out information on the apps that you use and trying to find new ways to use them. It’s about upskilling and attending events to learn your software’s updates.”
Growing professional value
Ross says that an upskilling effort also ups your professional worth.
“It makes you more valuable, right?!” he says. “If I know everything that I can do with the software, and I can do it quicker than people that have been using it for 20 years — if I can do in 10 minutes, what might take two hours without using the features properly — then I’ve increased my professional value.”
It doesn’t end there though. There are more ways your software training pays off, and they have to do with your colleagues.
Once you’re up-to-date with your skills, you’re able to teach your teammates. You’re the software equivalent of Yoda — a master and consort, “teach it you will”! That means more bang for your buck on professional development, and some company-wide capability bonuses.
“If I was in a team of designers or architects, I could pass the information I learned at Adobe on. Then your team becomes upskilled.
“It’s not just about me and my designer colleagues being upskilled either. If I want an assistant to do some simple design work for me, if they’ve got Adobe Photoshop, I can show them the feature, provide templates and say, “click here, and then it’ll do it for you” — they might not have an ounce of design skill, but they’d be able to do it.
“Once you’ve used it, you can tell people how to do it. If you upskill yourself, then you can pass that knowledge on, which then filters down. If you train the directors and admin staff to use the software properly, they’ll show everyone else. But without that training to start off with, and without learning your software’s updates, you don’t get that filtering down of information.”
Or, as Yoda himself puts it, “if you end your training now — if you choose the quick and easy path as Vader did — you will become an agent of evil.”
Those are the facts. Aren’t they, Rossco?! *wink*