How to use Scenarios to Teach Business Processes

Posted by Jonathan DeVore


While discussing best-practices for end-user training with Mike Gerholdt, Salesforce Admin Evangelist, he brought up a great point.

If you only focus on the technology, users will feel disconnected from the process. 

The business process informs the technology and the technology supports the process.

Sometimes, we focus too much on "teaching the technology" and not enough time explaining the process so that the technology -- and the inputs needed -- feel natural.

We couldn’t agree more; however, this brings up a new kind of challenge - what is the best way to teach a business process to end-users? A process map will scare most away, and paragraphs in PowerPoint put everybody to sleep.

Use scenarios to explain Business Processes

Mike Gerholdt is spot on when he emphasizes that we need to focus on teaching a business process to teach the technology. A business process can provide the structure end-users need, and make everything feel more “natural.”

So, what’s the best, most natural way to explain a business process? We recommend using scenarios.

A scenario includes three things:

  1. Familiar context
  2. Challenge
  3. Engaging exercise (to practice)

Familiar context

What does an end-user deal with everyday? Are they receiving emails, talking on the phone, working with people one-on-one? Throughout the day, what kind of questions are they asked, and what kind of activities are they expected to do?

Use these real-life examples to provide a scenario during training. For example, you could say, “Steve receives an email: ‘Sweet! Company A wants to buy a boatload of pipes!’”


After presenting the scenario, you challenge end-users - what should they do when somebody wants to buy a boatload of pipes? 

Engaging Exercise

Let your end-users practice responding to the challenge with a role-play or by logging into the system (preferrably sandbox) to try it out. The goal is to help users feel comfortable responding to something they will experience on a regular basis.

Be different

If you’re frustrated because your training doesn’t seem to make a difference, change it up. Remove the paragraphs and process maps from your slides, and begin using scenarios to teach business processes.

We’ve been through hundreds of training sessions, and we’ve noticed that few live-training classes use this approach - which is a shame, because it can be very effective. If you do it right, the process and the technology will “feel natural.”

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Topics: Live Training, Training