You have a competent staff of individuals hired to fulfill mostly specific – sometimes generalist – roles in your organization. As your team has grown, so has the complexity of the projects you are responsible for and the technology that supports them. It’s time to devise your training strategy. It’s a fairly straightforward process, though it will take serious thought and focus to come up with a winning strategy:
First, catalogue your team’s skills. You can do this by listing proven skills – those used on a frequent or significant basis as supported by successful completion of a particular project or task. Or, you can do an education assessment based on personnel records listing training in institutions of higher education, technical or trade schools, completed courses, and active or past certifications. A complete list, cross-referenced by position rather than employee, will be the first step of determining where your team is lacking.
Next, complete a review of all completed, pending, and future planned projects to determine what skills are needed (or were required in the past). Generate a list of the skills without reference to employees, positions, or projects.
You will then need to compare your requirements list with your skills catalogue and note any discrepancies. You should find that your team has unused or underutilized skills that can be more fully exploited on future projects. You will also find required skills that are not filled by any members of your current team. Analyze how this affected past projects – did you hire a consultant to come on-site, outsource work to another firm, or simply not deliver on certain aspects of the project?
Once you’ve completed your list of skills gaps, try to assign a dollar cost to each gap. This should be based on known (past) impacts, estimated impacts (cost of hiring consultants, loss of customer functionality, etc.), and consideration of your team’s ‘face value’ in the eyes of the customer.
The next step, prioritization, should be done blind to the budget. Costs of training should not affect the priority or importance of completing it. List your gaps from highest to lowest priority, based on dollar value or perceived value, regardless of the cost to obtain the training. This is the basis of your short and long term training strategy. How quickly you reach your goals will be based on your final budget.
Planning To the Dollar:
With your priority list in hand, begin researching the expected costs of the training needed to fill each gap. You must consider the method of delivery (OJT, Classroom, Distance, etc.) and weigh any trade-off between costs and value, as well as the number of employees needing the training. Once you have assigned costs to each gap, you may find that training is not the answer – it may be more reasonable to bring in a consultant based on intermittent need, or to add employees with the missing skills from internal or external hiring sources.
When you have finalized your prioritized list of gaps best filled by training, you can schedule them in order across your team calendar. Your approved quarterly and annual budget will dictate how much training you can complete, and how quickly, but using the ‘Power Pay’ mentality will get your most important needs met most quickly.
After completing the planning and master scheduling, compare your plan to current and upcoming projects. If you see projects that will require your missing skills before that training is completed, budget for a consultant or some other stop-gap measure. Leadership may decide to temporarily increase your training budget if that is more cost-effective than your stop-gap option.
Quarterly or annual reviews of your training strategy will make your training plan and budget easy to assemble each year. Remember, money doesn’t matter until you move from strategic planning to tactical. Before the end of a year, you’ll see tangible returns on your training dollar.
If you’d like help with your business planning, contact GHS today!