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April 13, 2015
ShipbuildingSSI LearningTechnologyTraining

Investing in training is something I think we all see value in but we rarely put our $ where our mouths are. There are several reasons or excuses as to why we convince ourselves that the benefit of getting trained today is not worth the time and money. The most common excuse is based on the perception that training takes away from our current work and will require us to extend our current deadline. Another common reason is, “My team has been using the product for 5 years so they do not need to get trained.” In this post I will break down the top four reasons I think we have a hard time in investing in something we should all be doing: training.

Top Four Reasons Why We Say “Not Now” to Training

1. Misunderstanding Of What Training Is

When most people think of training they only think of the most basic type of training which simply teaches you the software capabilities in a general way. It does not tell you how to implement them in your company in the same way as when you learn how to drive a car the trainer does not tell you the best route to get from home to the grocery store. This type of training is important and is needed when:

  1. You have a new employee who is not familiar with the product you are using.
  2. You invest in a new product or module of your current solution.
  3. You have not maintained your training needs by always saying “Not Now” and now your teams requires to refresh their skills.

This type of training is 100% necessary for any of the three reasons listed above but this is not where training stops.

There is another level of training which is more accurately called consulting. Consulting does not focus on teaching you the capabilities of the software but rather how you implement the features in your organization to best attain your company’s goals.

Not understanding the different types of training is a common reason why people think that they do not need training. If your team has been using the product for a while, you might not need “general” training but rather consulting training. This will make sure you are using the software in the most efficient way within your company to produce your required deliverables.

2. I Do Not Get Paid For Training

A common response I hear is, “Training takes away from my current job which is paying the bills.” With many of us having deadlines one after another there is hardly time to include training into the schedule.

I do understand that in some situations it is the right business decision to say “Not Now” to training but like anything else there has to be a time when we need to invest in training. Training in itself is not a revenue generating activity but enables you to generate more revenue. This is similar to having a computer with sufficient horsepower; it is an investment.

One of the successful strategies to overcome this is to have over the shoulder consulting. The way this works is your team continues to work on the project as they always do. The consultant would walk the floor talking to each team member and learn what they are doing and understand what their final deliverables are. Most of the time the consultant will make suggestions to improve the workflow they are using. However the goal of the consultant is much greater than just helping individual users. At the end of the day(s)/week(s) they will provide suggestions on how your company can improve your product. This can be by using a different workflow, leveraging the tools you have in a different way, investing in a new tool to achieve your end result with less effort, or even recommending training for individual personnel. This strategy is very common since it does affect your deadline or your billable hours.

3. Hard To Get An ROI On Training

Calculating your Return On Investment (ROI) before you have taken a training class can be difficult since you do not know what you do not know. However, once any type of training has been conducted it should be relatively easy to calculate your ROI. Calculating your ROI after any training is something I think is very important to do after a training or consulting engagement which very few organizations do.

Why do I think it is important? The main reason is to first know how beneficial your investment in training or consulting was but more importantly is to have the metrics for the next time you require training. Training will always be an investment and therefore we always look at ROI even if it is theoretical before making the decision. Having a previous calculated metric is very valuable in determining if and when you should invest in training again.

4. Different Teams Members Available at Different Times

To maximize training we want to maximize the amount of our team members who attend any training. This is because for some types of training if you train one person or 6 people the cost of the training is the same. Therefore, it is obvious that we look at maximizing our investment by having more of our team attend the class.

The challenge with this is that since each team member is working on their own set of deliverables it is often that the whole team is not available at the same time for training. This makes it very hard to fully maximize our investment.

This is where a self-pace On-Line training course can be ideal or as mentioned before, the over the shoulder consultancy training.

Closing Remarks

Training is and will also be an investment. Like any investment we need to try to figure out when the best time is to invest. It is easy to ignore training our team but that decision does have its consequences.

Investing in training is similar to investing in regular maintenance of your vehicle. You find the best time to take your car in to prevent a more serious problem with your car. If you continue to ignore the regular maintenance of your vehicle you are at a higher risk of not hitting your future deadlines and successfully competing in today’s market.

There are several types of training available for virtually every single one of your tools. You should determine the type of training you and your team need and then set aside time to invest in yourself. The ROI of any training should be calculated relatively easily allowing you to quantify the value of training.

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Post Comments

  1. Jos Voskuil says:

    Dennis agree with your statements. Training is not a band-aid to fix an issue, it should be part of a company´s strategy. Personally I believe more in the coaching/consultancy approach as learning is a process.

    And remember this quote that regularly pops-up on LinkedIn:

    CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and
    then they leave us?”

    “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?”

    1. Denis Morais says:

      Every time I hear that quote I always think to myself so true.

      I am curious in your experience do you measure ROI on any type of training/consultancy/coaching?

      I am asking since we are just starting to do this and it is showing promise but it is to early too make a quantifiable verdict.

      1. Jos Voskuil says:

        The challenge with many ROI discussions is that it is hard to define the KPIs. What was the situation before, what was the situation afterwards. For PLM I even try to avoid short-term ROI discussions, as the target is to do things different and this has an impact on the long-term competiveness.
        The ROI for me personally in consultancy/coaching lies in the value I deliver. For my customers it is clear that they cannot build up the same experience themselves as it would be too costly or too complex to build the knowledge to share.
        More in general, companies that attract new employees successful in the current economy are aware of permanent education – several companies are dedicating 20 % of the time to training / education / innovation.
        This fits exactly in the concept of the linear and fast organization that needs to be flexible.
        In reality I realize most of the old-school companies have not made this switch and follow their linear thinking. People are like machines. You install them and once and a while you upgrade them (train them) because a new task is needed. Permanent education is not in their thoughts
        Attached a nice consultancy diagram that I got from a peer in my network, describing the various aspects of learning at each stage of our lifecycle,
        Success with your ROI measurements – I believe the effect can only be visible in the long-term, like a healthy lifestyle

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