Since the current economic crisis began, we have seen many IT
workers and end-users lose their jobs. Organizations re-structure,
outsource, and are expected to accomplish their business goals with
less resources. The unfortunate reality is that we are in the midst
of a jobless recovery and those jobs may take a very long time to
return, if ever.
One important factor in whether or not a company prospers, in spite
of a decline in resources, is its ability to leverage
productivity-increasing technologies. The companies that are going
to prosper in the next decade are those that are able to make this
jobless recovery work in their favor. Organizations that do not
find cost-effective solutions to do more with less will face
continued fiscal decline. The organizations that leverage the right
technologies now will not only maintain critical productivity in
this strained economic environment, but will continue to outpace
competitors when the global economy improves.
In addition to cutbacks, early retirements, and dismissals, many
companies have put a freeze on hiring. These companies must find
other solutions to help maximize job performance. The only two
possible solutions to increase productivity without hiring new
people is by increasing the amount of hours worked by salaried
employees or through the use of technology.
Maintaining critical productivity
The first possible solution to the productivity issue is to
increase the amount of hours salaried employees work, but that is
only a temporary solution that will not lead to sustained long-term
growth of a company. Increasing hours worked leads to employee
burn-out and lower morale. After a brief jump in productivity, the
ability for workers to maintain these hours and produce results
will sharply decline as widespread burnout occurs.
The second solution, and the one we endorse, is to increase
productivity through the proper implementation and use of
technology. This solution has many benefits. In many cases, it
allows existing workers, who understand and have experience in the
company's business, to take on the work of multiple employees
without increasing the amount of hours worked. Another added
benefit is that many times the technology being leveraged is one
that the company already owns.
It comes as no surprises to us that most companies own multiple
technologies that are either severely underutilized or not utilized
at all. It isn't always complex, high price-tag systems such as
SAP. In many cases, it is programs as simple as the newer versions
of Microsoft Office.
Increasing productivity with technology training
Top performing companies have found a way to increase efficiency
through the use of these technologies, rather than work existing
employees longer and harder. Top companies are moving toward
focused training methods that address their specific, real-world
problems now. Their first step is to recognize that they have the
need to take immediate, quantifiable steps to implement the correct
technologies to improve their employees' productivity, and then
develop an action plan to implement the technologies correctly
without losing productivity.
Companies basically fall into two major categories: ones that have
already purchased technologies that can increase productivity and
ones that haven't yet to purchase the right technologies - but
would like to.
Many companies that have already purchased technologies such as
SAP, SharePoint, and Microsoft Office have not yet invested the
resources to properly implement the technology or to train end
users in how it can help them in their day-to-day business
activities. In their case, technologies are either not utilized or
Companies that have not yet purchased productivity-improving
technologies may be still comparing various vendors and would like
assistance in choosing the correct one for their business.
Companies need a mix of both consulting and training, depending on
where they are in the process of selecting and implementing these
productivity-increasing technologies. They have a renewed interest
in "consultative training."
We have recently seen a major manufacturer in the defense &
aerospace industry request training for a number of its IT staff on
SAP Enterprise Resource Planning software. It purchased and
installed SAP out of the box, but had yet to customize the product
for its unique environment. As a result, they were running several
legacy software systems in tandem with SAP, which resulted in
employees doing duplicate work.
Over the course of a few consultative training sessions, the
company was able to learn how to customize SAP for its unique
environment - and by doing so, it removed its need for several
older software systems and vastly improved business intelligence.
This same manufacturer also enhanced its workflow and collaboration
across multiple sites with an enterprise implementation of
Another consumer products manufacturer had migrated from Microsoft
Office 2003 to Office 2007 and needed to train more than 2,000
end-users on the significant differences between the two versions.
Office 2007 provides a new task-oriented user interface that
streamlines many common tasks when used properly, but it is a
drastic change from Office 2003. Their solution was to implement
customized, half-day courses, after interviewing users and
stakeholders to determine which tools and features were utilized
Investing in training has multiple benefits
Companies are seeing myriad benefits by investing in training. They
are not only seeing the obvious increase in efficiencies and
productivity that allow them to be more competitive in the global
marketplace, but they also are seeing increases in employee
engagement and morale.
When companies invest resources to develop their employees, their
employees feel more enthusiastic and "engaged" in the organization.
Engaged employees care about the future of the company and are
willing to invest more in it, which makes it a win for everyone. As
the old saying goes, "The only thing worse than training your
employees and having them leave, is NOT training your employees and
having them stay."
Isn't it time you consider how your company could benefit from
Rob Hardy is director of business development
at Training Intelligence in Shelton, Connecticut. Gavin
Preis is director of partnership development at Training
Intelligence, and Todd Banks is director of IT
with the Connecticut firm; www.trainingintel.com .