6 Reasons Why Your IT Simulation Training Is Missing The Mark

6 Reasons Why Your IT Simulation Training Is Missing The Mark
Summary: Simulation is the golden child of online training. Especially in regard to topics that require practical know-how and on-the-job application. But IT simulation training must be done right to mitigate risks and impart real world experience.

Why Your IT Simulation Training Is Missing The Mark

You know the joke. Call any IT expert with a problem and they will say ‘Have you tried switching it off and on again?’ Worse, it’s a techie hack that actually works, much to the dismay of less experienced staff members. Still, your IT team does need training, and not just for computer stuff. Unfortunately, this training doesn’t seem to work as well for your resident computer gurus. What exactly is the problem, and how can it be fixed? Here are 6 reasons why your IT simulation training activities are missing the mark.

6 Reasons Why IT Simulations Don't Hit The Target

1. Lack Of Realism

IT people often rage against hacker depictions on TV. But it can be tricky to develop realistic training scenarios. Many non-techie simulations test an employee’s reactions to intense emotional situations. For IT, the problems they encounter are largely man-against-machine, which can be hard to simulate. Talk to your team. Find out the kind of training they want. Maybe they’d like to learn how to translate ‘tech speak’ into English. A lot of times, their colleagues ignore IT precautions because it’s explained in terms they don’t understand. You could have an IT employee do simulation training where they have to break down a technical problem into plain language. They should learn to do it without patronizing or alienating their colleagues.

2. Sets The Wrong Tone

It’s a fairly valid stereotype that everyone in the IT sector is an avid gamer. They have a certain mindset towards gamification and simulation. They’re used to that intense, detailed, immersive world. So, a basic 2D simulation can seem like a toy, and they may not take it seriously. Avoid trite role-play scenarios. Instead, invite them to engage the machine. A simulation could, for example, proffer a scenario where the boss has been phished. The IT employee then has to access the system, or the boss’ smartphone, and repair the damage. Give them a tight time window and have the ‘boss’ call every ten minutes to nag. Have other ‘workmates’ call and interrupt in with ‘silly problems’, just like they would on a normal day.

3. Out Of Date

The tech world is constantly shifting. IT itself is so broad, and the lay employee knows very little about it. Your IT team manages email, maintains the server, repairs damaged equipment, develops office databases, and more. Each of these is a different sub-segment of IT. But we often unknowingly hire one person and expect them to do it all. They won’t say they can’t, because they want the job. Plus, the rest of us are so underexposed to tech that we don’t know the difference. Still, in a professional setting, you do have to break down those segments and develop simulations to cover them all. But if your simulation involves a virus that’s a month old, then the simulation is useless against an updated tactic. IT simulation training has to be current for it to be effective.

4. No Emotional Connection

When we think about the IT guy, we often picture the robotic stereotype. We imagine cold, unfeeling super-geniuses that can make computers do magic just by typing on a keyboard. In reality, the IT girl or guy is just like us, and emotional connectivity is a key part of their training. If they can ‘feel something’ during the simulation training, they’re more likely to retain knowledge. Unfortunately, IT simulations often focus on jargon and technique to the detriment of sentiment. If you want your IT department to perform better in their simulation training activities, target their human side. Their techie skills matter, but empathy is crucial too. Plus, a little emotional intelligence training may help them seem less… robotic… to the rest of the team. After all, even the greatest hacker in the world needs people skills to survive offline.

5. No Follow-Up Or Feedback

The simulation checks all the boxes. It’s realistic, emotionally compelling, and sets the right tone. But employees don’t know how they fared or where they need to improve because there isn’t any feedback. You need to follow up after the fact with customized recommendations and suggestions that target their trouble spots. Such as which steps they missed or related skills they need to work on. They might be aware that they struggled through the simulation, but they don’t know how to remedy the issue. Personalized resource recommendations guide them in the right direction and give them the opportunity to continually improve.

6. Not On The Level

Another reason why your simulation-based training may be missing the mark is that it’s simply too challenging or too easy. Employees either know the subject matter inside out, in which case they already have the experience they need. Or the situation/problem you’re covering is above their ‘pay grade.’ For instance, it’s usually a task that falls on the IT department head and might be too complex for team members. This is why you need to pre-assess before the simulation and design it to accommodate their needs. Identify their job duties, experience level, and common obstacles to make it relevant.


IT simulation training is a tricky subject because IT is largely technical. Other departments can simulate sales calls, compliance scenarios, or even GPS tutorials. It’s important because an untested GPS can literally land you in a ditch. For IT, it can be a bit harder to recreate technology-based office tasks. And if you don’t design these simulations right, they’re pointless. Some flaws to avoid including over-playfulness during gamification. Keep scenarios realistic and contextual, no breaking into Fort Knox in five keystrokes! And update your course regularly to cover technological developments.