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A Guide to Smarter Year-End Spending: IT Training Edition

It’s a sad reality: If you find yourself at the end of the fiscal year with money to spend, you’re more likely to rush to spend it without giving much thought to how to best maximize your investment.

guide to year-end spending IT trainingThis rush has a negative impact on an IT investment’s success. The National Bureau of Economic Research conducted an extensive study and published a report entitled “Do Expiring Budgets Lead to Wasteful Year-End Spending?” The research, based on government “Use it or Lost It” procurement practices, found that “spending in the last week of the year is 4.9 times higher than the rest-of-the-year weekly average.” This is a problem because IT projects “procured in the last week of the fiscal year were between two and six times more likely to have a lower quality rating.”

Anyone who has experienced an issue-ridden IT project knows the headaches and effects it has on the organization. To help reduce low quality projects from gaining traction, we’re showing you a way to spend your money in a way that will improve your organization’s overall performance, cut costs, and help you leverage modern technologies to improve the customer experience and stay competitive.

To improve quality, slow down to speed up and stay ahead of skill gaps

Instead of rushing a purchase that could end up costing more time and money, organizations can find better bottom-line success by investing in its personnel. People are behind your organization’s ability to drive technology and maximize its potential. But technology changes quickly, which puts Chief Information Officers and IT managers in a tug of war. They need to continue to juggle developing their technology investments while building a well-trained workforce to deliver a return on investment.

Meanwhile, Learning and Development Managers and Training Coordinators are tasked with providing structured training programs and learning paths to keep teams on top of the technology, reduce skill gap impacts, and retain and sustain their top talent.

In recognition of these competing interests, we’ve produced a guide to last minute investing your end of year funds into training, which will improve the quality of work and innovation, and elevate the return on IT projects.

Last Minute Spending or Last Minute Long-Term Investing

You’re in either one of two situations: You’re out of time and needed to act yesterday or you have you a little time, but the clock is ticking.

If you’re out of time, here’s your strategy:

No need to panic, you can still make wise investments. Here’s what you do:

  • If you have a large budget, invest in prepaid training packages.
    • These packages have the most flexibility, so if you haven’t had a chance to identify where staff need upskilling or time to develop department training paths, you have a year to choose courses.
  • If your budget is limited, look into subscription training plans.
    • Subscription models and bundles are a growing way to structure training. By grouping together related topics, students are able to deep dive into the content because they have access to a number of courses over a period of a few months or year.

Or if you’re almost out of time, here’s your strategy:

If you’re responsible for developing your workforce or purchasing training, you’ll find measurable returns by identifying what issues need to be resolved. Below are four quick tips on improving your training return on investment and avoiding one common pitfall:

  1. Align skills to organizational objectives
    • Maybe your latest deployment has been riddled with too many “gotchas” because people weren’t asking the right questions. Was this because they didn’t have a firm grasp on the technology or did projects kept derailing due to a lack of project management? Resolve problems plaguing the business, and you’ll be the hero. The takeaway: Purchase training focused on fixing those issues.
  2. Survey your management team
    • Seventy-five percent of IT decision-makers said their teams will have skill gaps with the next two years, if they don’t already. Ask them where they need support or what new skills need to be developed.
      Plan for the future
  3. Prepare next year’s needs now by laying the ground work today.
    • What big initiatives are being rolled out? For example, which workloads are moving to the cloud next? Is a key team member retiring? Successful organizations have embraced the approach that their teams need upskilling to handle new technology or fill the void from those with decades of experience. Plan accordingly.
    • If leadership hasn’t disclosed upcoming initiatives, you can still be ready to act quickly with a prepaid training plan. It keeps this year’s money working into next year. (It’s wise to check if your internal policies require you to take the training in the same year it’s purchased.)
  4. Increase your buying power
    • Combine multiple department budgets to boost your buying power.

Avoid this training purchase pitfall

  • Buy specific courses without clearly defined organizational needs.
    • For instance, if a component of your organization’s IT strategy is to begin migrating workloads to the cloud, a solid foundation should be built by understanding how the cloud affects the overarching business, who the major providers are, and why one should even go to the cloud. Jumping into a specific vendor’s training might be a mistake if you don’t have a foundational understanding of what you want to accomplish.

We’ve covered how you can begin to invest your remaining dollars, but it’s equally important to make sure your IT training provider doesn’t slow you down. When evaluating a training company, here is recommended criteria they should meet to ensure they deliver the right solutions for you.

Five Things to Look for in an IT Training Provider

  1. Access to a wide range of IT topics, technology providers and certification bodies
    • Who wants to spend money on a training package only to find out the provider doesn’t have the courses your organization needs? A quality IT training provider will have breadth and depth in their portfolio. Organizations are no longer just a one vendor shop. They’re working with multiple providers across many platforms.
  2. Authorization to provide training from the technology provider
    • Companies like AWS, Cisco, Microsoft, VMware and others have authorized training providers. These authorized organizations ensure you’re receiving the most current and accurate information possible. They use official training materials and courseware. Unauthorized or “grey marketing providers” aren’t authorized to sell a technology provider’s training. They can’t use the companies’ books and have typically reverse-engineered technology in order to teach skills.
    • If a deployment is derailed because your workforce learned the wrong steps from a non-authorized provider, who is going to get blamed? I hope your resume is current because you’ll probably take the heat. An authorized training provider’s curriculum ensures you receive the most recent and tried and true best practices in the technology you’re working with. Why risk exposing your people to outdated materials and information?
  3. Consistent quality regardless of location
    • Multi-location companies can’t always send all of its employees to one location for training. You need to make sure your personnel are receiving consistent training regardless of training site. If your team at a Washington, D.C., location is taught one way and your team at the Dallas, Texas, location is taught another way, the risk for poor collaboration and miscommunication increases due to how instruction varies. Find a provider that has a large training footprint or is willing to come to you.
  4. Programs that scale for any size organization or government
    • Whether you have one location or hundreds, your provider should be able to support them all. Small businesses have different needs than a larger multi-national enterprise or a state or federal government.
  5. Reduces your time investment
    • Planning, organizing and scheduling training can be a monumental task. You can’t possibly know everything everyone needs, so you need resources within the training company to help guide, understand and recommend how to reduce the skill gaps and challenges you face today and tomorrow.

Where does Global Knowledge fit in and how can we help you?

  • You have access to the broadest IT training portfolio in the industry.
    • If you’re not sure what you require but need to invest the money, you will find success with us because of the depth and breadth of our IT and business training portfolio. If we don’t have what you need, our team of learning architects and subject matter experts can create custom content specifically for your organization.
  • We are the largest authorized training provider of AWS, Cisco, Microsoft, VMware, and more.
    • Top vendors entrust us to develop and train users to maximize their technology. We go beyond the minimum requirements vendors require. Because of commitment to quality, we receive top learning partner awards year after year. Companies like Cisco, IBM, Microsoft, VMware acknowledge our proven expertise in delivering training to people around the world.
  • Programs for businesses and governments of any size
    • Businesses take advantage of promotions like BOGO, Cool Stuff and more.
    • Our government training offers enable government agencies to maximize their training dollars. And we can help simply the procurement process for when you need to purchase our training through SmartPay, GSA Schedule 70, contract vehicles, Blanket Purchase Agreements, Basic Ordering Agreements and Master Ordering Agreements.
  • Your team receives consistent quality across the globe
    • We have trained 84 percent of Fortune 500 companies. We offer training in 11 languages and more than 100 countries. Our flexible delivery formats provide exceptional learning experiences. Global Knowledge instructors are held to rigorous global standards and receive constant evaluations from students about effectiveness. Regardless of where your staff is located, everyone learns the same material and best practices.
  • We will reduce your time investment
    • Work with account managers who are also training advisors experienced in delivering effective training solutions for Fortune 500 and government clients.
    • We offer over 5,000 Guaranteed to Run classes throughout the year. You don’t have to worry about classes canceling and having to take time to reschedule.

When we’re in situations where money needs to be spent in a short period of time, it’s critical to think where and how it can be best used. Be the hero that uses the money towards investing in your team. By improving their capabilities to work with the tools and technologies that are driving business forward, there is a much lower risk of losing it to a low quality project that everyone will remember. Nobody wants to experience buyer’s remorse, especially if you have to answer to your organization.

Get started today by speaking with a Global Knowledge training advisor at 1-866-716-6688. For Government agencies, call 1-877-333-8326.