I recently joined the Foothold Technology Quality Assurance team with a background of a little over a decade in information technology support – specifically computer and software support. I’ve worked with a large variety of software from information technology tools to clinical software to language translation applications. Having worked with so many different kinds of software, I figured adapting my skills to Foothold Technology’s AWARDS software would be a breeze. As it turns out, at first, it was a challenge because I needed to cultivate the knowledge and skills that the typical AWARDS user has developed from their training and day-to-day experience in the human services arena. For example, most social services workers sitting down to AWARDS for the first time would have an advantage over me – AWARDS is designed to fit the requirements and needs of social service institutions and the individuals who keep them running. It’s a natural extension of the work AWARDS users do every single day, and since AWARDS is designed and customized to record and support that work, in order to learn the software I had to learn even more about the AWARDS users and the amazing work that they’re doing.
Luckily for me, there are a number of resources available that have helped me build my AWARDS knowledge from scratch:
- Training Opportunities – Foothold Technology’s training staff knows the software inside and out and the team is experienced and skilled at teaching a student of the software how to use it in a straightforward, matter-of-fact way. This made familiarizing myself with AWARDS easy and comfortable. Additionally, the ongoing webinar series the training team hosts let me focus in on specific areas. Since all the recordings are posted to YouTube, I could revisit areas that I felt uncertain about or need some repetition on.
- Client Services – Sitting in on weekly check-in calls and visiting agency locations with our Senior Customer Success Managers (CSMs) has helped me fill in the context of AWARDS agencies’ day-to-day needs, the unique challenges they face, and the way AWARDS can be adapted to solve the problems of very different agencies. It has also helped me understand where individual AWARDS users are coming from and how they’re using the software to aid in their day-to-day work.
- Online Help and Help Desk – Any time I have a question, the first place I look is the AWARDS Online Help. It’s organized by module making it easy to locate what I’m looking for, and for questions that don’t neatly break down into a specific module there’s the Online Help’s search functionality. The Online Help is maintained by my colleagues on the Quality Assurance team who also monitor the Foothold Help Desk and any tickets that come in. My Help Desk colleagues have been able to help direct me to the answers to any question I have that I can’t address through the Online Help materials, or any problem I have run into that is outside the scope of training.
- You – Participating in training sessions and weekly check-in calls have let me hear your questions, suggestions, and ideas. This has helped me see the totality of AWARDS – what it is now, the direction it’s moving, and what an amazing community has grown around it.
With all of these things and some patience, I’ve reached a point where I’m getting a firm handle on AWARDS, its capabilities, and its flexibility, as well as troubleshooting problems and answering questions. In the end, AWARDS is easy to learn, easy to use, and easy to train. But, like anyone starting out, feel free to reach out to the AWARDS Help Desk if you have any questions or problems. Who knows, now that I’m up and running, the next time you reach the Help Desk, you might be hearing from me.