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Are your staff adequately trained?

Avoiding the false economy trap

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An interesting finding emerged from a recent Reg reader study. It concerns a cause and effect that is pretty obvious once it is highlighted. Put simply, IT departments operate much more smoothly and efficiently if IT staff are adequately trained.

The data, which is derived from over 1,100 responses to an online survey, is difficult to argue with. There is a clear relationship between the attention paid to IT staff training and the perceived level of burden experienced by IT. To put it another way, properly trained staff find it easier to cope with the demands placed on them in areas such as infrastructure optimisation and management to keep service levels up and costs down, effective maintenance of desktops to maintain user satisfaction and keep security risks under control, and provision of helpdesk support to meet user expectations maintain user satisfaction levels.

What’s more, the relationship between training and operational efficiency and effectiveness is a linear one. What does that mean? Well, it doesn’t really matter whether training requirements have been neglected, if the organisation already has its act together, or if it’s somewhere in between; indications are that that incremental training will always have a positive impact. To put this into perspective, another finding from the same report was that investment in other areas, such as systems management automation and integration, does not deliver benefits in the same linear fashion. Essentially, you need to get past a threshold of capability before significant improvements are generated.

There are some interesting lessons in here for all organisations, but particularly those that have a tendency to skimp on investment in skills development. If this study is anything to go by, such an approach is clearly false economy. In fact, if you have anything to do with running an IT department that is underperforming on IT service delivery and operational efficiency, then the first port of call when looking for improvements should probably be staff development. While upgrading your systems management tools and technology may also be a necessity, investment in this way will take time to pay back. Meanwhile, a bit of additional training at a fraction of the cost is likely to have a much more immediate impact.

Oh yeah, and study also quite clearly shows that training end users can have a similar impact, reducing the burden placed on IT in areas such as desktop management and help desk delivery. The basic principle here is that adequately trained users encounter (and create) fewer problems, and when problems do occur, users are much better placed to sort themselves out.

There’s a lot more to this research than the stuff we have been talking about above, so if you’d like to learn more, you can download a full copy of the findings from here. And if you’re interested in a companion report looking at the future of IT Service Management (ITSM) in general, you can download that from here.

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