A comprehensive professional development plan is an important first step in ensuring your workforce is outfitted with the most modern and efficient technological skills possible. Investing in your employees is a critical part of staying competitive in a constantly evolving market. All professional development programs, however, are not created equal. Follow these three steps to help ensure your employee’s development plans are efficient, effective, and up to date in 2021.
1. Create a Business Case
A business case demonstrates the need for a project and the positive outcomes it will generate. It helps board members, stakeholders, or decision-makers understand the details of the project. A well-prepared and delivered business case can make all of the difference when it comes to approving funding for professional development. It should critically examine the opportunities, alternatives, project stages, and financial investments associated with the employee training in order to pose a course of action that will generate business value.
The following are four parts of an effective business case:
- Value proposition – In order to make a decision, upper management needs to understand the various benefits of investing in employee training. A value proposition, in this case, refers to the value of the professional development regarding the ways in which it will serve the business. A value proposition can be presented as a statement that summarizes all of the direct and indirect benefits of investing in training, such as a more loyal, skilled, and educated workforce. The specific technology you want your employees to learn and the ways in which those skills will accelerate the business should be demonstrated clearly.
- Budget request – Stakeholders will most certainly want to know how much employee training will cost before choosing whether or not to invest. Make sure you know all of the specific associated costs and numbers before you make your budget request.
- Learning roadmap & timeline – A clear plan for how much time a professional development program will take to complete. Detailed plans that reflect a timeline for the training that will cause minimal interruption to company operations are essential to a clear business case. Remember to be realistic in considering how much time will be necessary for comprehensive learning and retention.
- ROI/impact projection – Decision-makers will most likely want to know your projections regarding the specific ways this training will benefit the organization. The training you have selected should be relevant to the operations of the company and proven to benefit and optimize those operations. Do your research and present case studies if possible. Return on investment is important to anyone making an investment, and offering projections will make the benefits clear.
2. Training Vendor Assessment
Once you have decided on training that would benefit your business, you will need to select a vendor. There are lots of providers out there that offer employee training, so it is important to consider the needs of your employees before selecting one. Consult the following checklist when conducting your vendor assessment:
- Evaluate compatibility – The first thing to consider when choosing employee training services is compatibility with existing methods and workflow. You will want to choose a program that allows you to integrate existing tools. Your employees should find it approachable and accessible. If workers are not comfortable with the materials and delivery, it could make the entire process more difficult. Lots of systems offer demos and trials, and you can reach out to employees and ask them directly whether they feel comfortable with a vendor’s training materials. Age gaps within the workforce and existing technological awareness should also be considered.
- Conduct need analysis – If the organization overall needs to update their processes in order to make use of contemporary technology, educating key employees may be a priority. Does the specific IT training meet the needs of your workforce? Identify the specific challenges or knowledge gaps that you are seeking to overcome and the goals you intend to achieve.
- Vet the vendors – When deciding whether to use any service it is important to do some research. Look online for reviews and case studies and arrange a phone call or meeting with the vendors you are considering. Speaking with the vendor is the best way to get to know the benefits of the program and whether it is suitable for your employees. An expansive online presence across social media and other forums is usually a good sign.
- Choose an engaging program – An effective program should include interactive features, animations, and other materials that provide learners with an engaging experience. Are the materials formatted neatly, or are they dense and hard to understand? Is there any element of engagement through fun, interesting education modules? Learning a new technology online or offline can be difficult for people of all ages. IT training programs that are cutting edge, interesting, and include space for discussion generally help people absorb the information more effectively.
- Consider lifecycle and retention – An employee training program should produce long-lasting results. You want your workforce to be outfitted with skills they can continue to build in the future. A good training program should ensure retention, which may come in the form of follow-ups, post-training, assessments, or continued access to materials or educators.
3. Coordinate Training
The right program should enable you to be relatively hands-off throughout the training process. Once you have chosen to work with an IT training vendor, you should feel comfortable to let them conduct the program according to their methods. You can track the progress your workforce is making by incorporating the following into your assessment of the training itself:
- Impact reporting – Impact reporting can help you communicate the value of the training to top-ranking company leaders. They will want to understand how the training has been effective. Impact reporting often takes the form of a physical report. It provides an executive summary of the progress, concrete metrics, and further recommendations.
- Usage and adoption – During and after the training, it is important to track the ways in which the technology has been implemented. Are there tangible changes that can be reported? How have your employees incorporated their new skills into their workflow? It is important to measure the effectiveness of the education to ensure the specific objectives are being achieved.
- Next-phase training – Effective workforce training emphasizes retention. A key part of retention is continuing to build on the skills the employees have developed. This is especially true when it comes to IT training, as technology is constantly expanding and evolving. Consider plans for continuing education that will help them continue to grow and strengthen their new skills.
- Certification recognition – Certification recognition allows for the business to communicate the value of the training in which they have invested. Appropriate certifications should be available through the vendor based on the specific courses and plans.
If you need guidance with steps 1, 2, or 3, Skill Developers can help take them off your desk. Contact Skill Developers today to learn more. We offer flexible IT training courses delivered via virtual labs by industry-leading educators. Call today to start building and developing stronger workers.
Why is professional development so critical to an organization? It…
- Evolves skills and knowledge
- Improves IT and computer skills with updated and innovative technology (and security)
- Increases productivity and performance… and revenue.
- Reduces wastage time and money
- Promotes uniformity of work processes
- Boosts morale, confidence, and collaboration
- Improves customer valuation and satisfaction
- Reduced employee turnover/churn
- Satisfies the recommendations of performance appraisals
- Prepares employees for higher responsibilities
- Shows employees they are valued
- Tests the efficiency of a new systems, tools, teammates, and processes