J. JOSEPH EDWARDS

Chief executive officer

United Bank Corp.

Barnesville, Ga.

WHEN WE STARTED USING PERSONAL computers five or six years ago, we tried to contribute $100 to $200 to help employees buy computers at home. When we upgraded our computers at the bank to newer-model PCs, we made the older models available to our employees at a depreciated cost. As we are now shifting to a Windows environment, the tutorials are easy for people to work with in their spare time. Windows is easier to grasp than the DOS versions of some of the products.

We also have people at our holding company who install these programs and who are readily available to take calls. They'll answer questions that employees might have. In addition, from time to time, we've sent some of our people to different schools for two- or three-hour courses on word-processing or spreadsheet- application programs.

JAMES KELLY

Executive vice president

First American National Bank

Nashville

WE HAVE TWO METHODS FOR training our commercial lending officers and support staff. We have a reengineering project in place called Transformation. That is a computer-based project that involves training on Windows, Lotus Smart Suite, and any other programs that our commercial lending staff would need to use.

For the rest of our employees, we have an open-enrollment training program which is running out of our MIS area. It provides training on both DOS and Windows applications. We offer training on any software we have in use at the bank as a standard. It is the employees' option to decide what they need to take. We also have a training center in our main office in Nashville and in other cities where the bank operates.

ROBERT J. COLONNA

Chairman and president

Innovative Systems Inc.

Pittsburgh

WE SEND PEOPLE TO EXTERNAL training courses both at college and at training companies. Internally, we hold training classes to increase our staffs skill level - especially in areas that involve new software. We've also found that people don't reach the upper level of ability unless there is someone to act as a role model. So when we hire someone new, we often assign them a mentor. We also try to hire people who have worked in places that have higher skill levels than ours.

With regard to training our professional staff, we try to hire people with quantitative backgrounds like in engineering or mathematics or the sciences. With our support staff, we screen people for skills. We test them to evaluate their ability to learn. We also run a help desk internally. That way if someone runs into a problem they can call the help desk. We also pay attention to what our clients and strategic partners are doing that's different from us and see what we can learn.

JAMES RUNDBERG

Senior vice president

UMB Bank

Kansas City, Mo.

WE TRY TO SET AN ORGANIZATIONAL tone that motivates employees to get involved in personal computer training. We try to create an atmosphere that encourages learning. The other thing we do is provide in-house training on programs like Lotus and WordPerfect.

We try to set a management direction on ways to use PC knowledge and equipment. Most importantly, we solicit input from our associates as to what they believe are the important uses of this technology and how it fits into our organizational direction and philosophy. We also ask the associates to look at ways we might use technology in the future and ways that technology might interface with current product offerings.

STASIA BERK

Manager of training services

Pegasystems Inc.

Cambridge, Mass.

BANKS HAVE BEEN FOCUSING ON computers for a while and it reaches a point where employees know the basics, a few commands, and a few screens that get them through their day-to-day processing. But to an extent, people generally are afraid of using computers.

We put PCs in our training centers and the first few groups that came around amazed me. They were executives from banks and they'd never used a mouse before. So what we did was add a PC-literacy segment to our program. Our goal is to get people comfortable with hardware, the keyboard, the mouse itself. We have them do exercises and play games just to feel more comfortable. Then we get them to focus on what this computer can do. People can't focus on the benefits if they are afraid.

Putting PCs on people's desks is a big investment. But, you can't afford to not also look at the investment you've already made in your staff. Just because there's a machine on someone's desk, doesn't mean they know how to use it.

PETER VOGELBERGER

President

Chesapeake System Solutions Inc.

Owings Mills, Md.

FIRST OF ALL, IF YOU STILL HAVE A problem with computer illiteracy, it's because people haven't had any exposure to computers. Once you give them exposure, that changes. My recommendation is to give people PCs. You've got to make the decision to commit to the investment, put PCs on their tables, and let them begin to be exposed to today's tools - including all the graphical user interfaces and software packages.

The presentation of the software today makes computers more appealing than they were five years ago. Through exposure, people are going to get over what apprehension they might have had toward computers and begin to explore ways to work more productively. The best thing you can do is expose them to technology.

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