Understanding the merits of professional consultation within any organisation is pivotal when it's time to embark on training and installing new software. Once you have decided that you can increase staff productivity by upgrading software, a vital part of the process is to ensure that staff understand those benefit too. If they feel change is imposed on them, any training will be hard-going.

Consultation should be ongoing; organisations that succeed need to share information with their employees, listen to and take account of what their employees have to say; make decisions, and then communicate these decisions back to their employees, to gain that all-important feedback during times of training and when introducing new software.

Obviously consulting with employees about training needs and requirements is critical to an organisation's success. The benefits of making people feel involved and empowered can be increased productivity and reduced staff turnover. Organisations that involve their employees benefit from increased motivation and commitment. By consulting employees, organisations can become more efficient and effective. And this is crucial, for example, when introducing a new software application (as are professional computer training classes). This is the ideal time to listen to people's fears and hopes about training in and using new software, especially for a powerful program such as Excel.

Consultation offers employees the opportunity to discuss organisational issues, express opinions and ask questions regarding matters that are likely to affect the way they use the software in the future. Employers then have the opportunity to consider the views and respond accordingly.

Consultation must be timely with regard to the organisation's decision-making process, so that people are given enough time to consider and respond to any potential decisions that may affect them (ideally, consultation should start as early as possible). So, if you are thinking seriously about updating to Excel 2010, and you want to ensure you have everyone on-board, then think about how you are going to train those users so that they are happy and confident using the new program as soon as possible before roll out.

Once you have identified a need for training in your organisation, then it's also time to think about a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). A TNA can help identify the skills gaps and provide more focussed training for staff development leading to a better Return on Investment (ROI). Some training providers can provide a range of training needs analysis which is usually carried out on site or as a managed remote project. Methods of consultation can vary from organisation to organisation. The TNA is key to ensuring that the training delivered matches the needs of the staff.

They depend on the size of the organisation, the type of information being shared and the input that is hoped for. There is no single method that will do everything, but usually it is the mix of methods and how they support each other that will be important. And with good planning and preparation, there won't be tears before bedtime when you convert to Excel 2010.