It's very common that a department, group, or individual will say "I/We need training in ……". I've blogged before about the questions to ask a potential external Training Provider, but here are a few questions you should be asking internally before going ahead with Training.
Training in what exactly?
It's good to delve a little deeper into the need for training. People could say they need training in Word, but on asking further you may find they are having problems with locating items on the Ribbon. Perhaps an upgrade to 2010 has caused some difficulties, and staff are simply wanting training in the new features of the application they use most?
Recently a request to "know a bit more about Excel" turned into a full course in Formulas, Pivot Tables and linking to a Database for an accounts department that needed to produce reports for the rest of the organisation.
Equally not everything may be a real request for training. Asking for training in say, OneNote, may just be a request for information which can be satisfied by a short briefing session in this new tool, rather than a full training course in an application they may not necessarily use.
People are usually reticent to say they don't know about something, or don't have the skills to do their job, asking a few more questions will help you uncover the real training need or if you feel you need more information on skills gaps in your organisation, ask your training provider if they can help you with some kind of Training Needs Analysis.
Is it just IT?
Very often it isn't simply learning which button to press. There needs to be an understanding of why these things are done. So any training in Word or PowerPoint, for example, needs to include information on the "house style". Project training should also cover Project Management skills, and so on. The best applications training takes your processes and procedures into account and teaches people not just the "how" but the bigger picture of why.
What's the outcome?
As soon as you can, think what the outcomes of training will be. Not just "People will know more about Word", think what business outcomes you want.
- "Managers can edit their own documents when their PA is out of the office"
- "Sales staff can produce their own PowerPoint presentations"
- "Finance can produce more timely end of month reports in Excel"
- "Reduce calls to the IT helpdesk by 40%"
- "Help staff adapt to Office 365 and reduce the cost of calls to the States by using Lync"
- "Produce fully costed Project Plans using Microsoft Project"
Being clear on the training outcomes will help you justify why the training is required, and often give an insight into the value of that training.
How many need Training?
Knowing what training you want and who wants it will probably give you the number of people that will need training. But don't be tempted to skimp or reduce this number. If you've identified the need and the outcomes it's probable that others in your organisation have the same issues but haven't raised them.
What sort of Training?
"Training" is pretty much a catch-all word in business, but training comes in many different forms.
- Self-paced learning, such as Computer Based Training courses (CBT), or simply reading a manual.
- Desk-side one-to-one training with a Trainer.
- Ad-Hoc desk side training sometimes called Floorwalking.
- Live Online Training with a Trainer and other attendees over the internet - using tools such as Lync or Webex.
- Short "drop in clinics" on-site with a trainer in residence ready to solve problems and help users who call in with specific problems.
- On-Site Classroom training, when a group of colleagues work together with a trainer on a course customised to their requirements.
- Off-Site Classrooms training, usually "Open Courses" where several companies, and skill levels, come together for a days' set course.
The type of training you go for will probably depend on the answers to previous questions, together with the all-important next topic…
What's your budget?
Obviously, Training is not free, but the costs will range from tens to hundreds, to thousands of pounds depending on what you want. If you've answered the questions above you should know what, who and how many want training, what format you want it in, and importantly, you’ll know what you want to get out of the training. This should inform your budget decisions and tell you whether you simply need to buy a book from Amazon or go for fully customised instructor-led training for hundreds of staff. If you've really no idea on budget, then, by all means, ask several Training providers, but give them as much information as you have. This will allow them to quote for what is required, and allow you to compare the quotes between providers.