Training is a topic we cover frequently, and one that’s a pain point for many service managers. But an abundance of free or inexpensive online tools and the increasing number of technicians carrying a mobile device can alleviate some of that pain.

Below, we’ve identified some of the top tools that managers can use to remotely train their technicians. It’s not always possible to virtualize training in field service, as some problems require hands-on learning. But for those situations that don’t require in-person training, online tools can slash costs to make sure technicians and trained as quickly and inexpensively as possible.

Cloud Storage Applications

These applications allow managers to upload training and product manuals, FAQs, diagrams, PDFs — pretty much any training document imaginable.

There are many of these applications out there, and the majority of them are free. Dropbox, Box, iCloud, Microsoft Office 365 and Google’s suite of applications in Drive are just a few examples. There are many, many others.

These tools are even more beneficial to technicians who carry a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device in the field as the information is accessible in the field. All those reams of paper bound in notebooks and lost somewhere under the seat? Cloud storage apps can make those a thing of the past.

Learning Management Software

These are basically services that automate all of the backend administrative tasks that need to happen to train technicians (registration, cataloguing, tracking individuals’ progress, reporting, etc.) Many of these also serve as online learning platforms so managers can design online learning courses. Similar to the cloud storage applications, the choices are nearly endless, but some of the most popular include: Articulate, Capterra, and Moodle.

Here’s a more comprehensive list of learning management system vendors.

Virtual Meetings

Web conferencing isn’t just for the boardroom. Instead of flying all of your technicians to HQ (or flying experts to different employee locations), consider tools such as Vast Conference CallingGoToMeeting, DimDim, and Zoho for training that doesn’t need to be done in person.

Social Networking Tools

You’ve heard of Facebook and Twitter, but there’s an entire class of social media tools that are built for business, and they can be incredible powerful training tools. Applications such as ZincSlack, and’s Chatter are popular in business, and training is only the beginning of what these tools can do. In addition to a real-time stream of training information, these tools are also a searchable archive for all those great nuggets of advice.

Don’t forget about instant messaging applications such as AOL Instant Messenger and GChat. While somewhat low-tech, these tools can be great for posing questions to others in the company or for exchanging non-sensitive information. And then there’s Apple’s FaceTime and Skype, to name a couple voice and video conferencing services.

Wikis, DVDs and Other Ideas

Wikis are another training option. Companies can create a Wiki, essentially a webpage visible to and editable by internal employees. It’s Wikipedia, but instead of entries on WWII, companies can post tips, tricks and other training information. Don’t want to build your own Wiki? Check out iFixIt, a site where users can upload and edit repair manuals and videos for tons of products.

DVDs are another simple option. Simply record a training video and mail it to employees wherever they may be. Or, better yet, upload it to YouTube and send a link.

Planes, Trains, Automobiles and Paper

Sometimes, there’s just no way around gathering everybody in the same room for a training session. Perhaps there’s an intricate tweak to a product that just can’t be learned on a video or an online training course. It’s certainly more costly than GoToMeeting, but sometimes there’s just no way around it.

There are countless other methods managers use to train their technicians. Are you using one we didn’t mention? Let us know in the comments below.