“Why should I allocate budget to cloud training? We’ve got 10 other important things that need this budget.”
If this is the answer you are receiving when asking management for a cloud training budget, then this guide is for you.
When you have a limited budget and there are 10 other things it could be allocated to, how do you argue for providing training to your engineering team?
It turns out that the number one cloud challenge facing businesses today is a lack of resources and expertise. According to a survey by Global Knowledge, the main issue on the minds of IT managers is whether their teams have the necessary skills required to meet their organization’s goals.
In fact, 68 percent of global respondents said their teams currently face a shortage of required skills. In the U.S. alone, this number rises to 73 percent.
You could have the greatest strategy in the world, the greatest planned features, and access to the best cloud technologies in the world, but if you don’t have expert resources who can execute on those strategies, allocating budget elsewhere won’t do much good.
So here are some points you can make when asking management for a cloud or IT training budget:
Lack of necessary skills is the number one cloud challenge facing businesses
Before we can get started, we must understand common IT and cloud problems faced by organizations. Because if we know the main issues our managers currently face, we can intelligently craft our arguments around how training can help solve those problems.
The skills gap impact on your organization is likely to be substantial
In 2017, 61% of respondents from the previously mentioned survey said that the skills gap in their organization caused increased stress on existing employees. This can lead to employee turnover, a negative effect on culture, and decreased productivity.
The next largest impact is difficulty meeting quality objectives. Other related issues (all of which received over 20% of participant votes) were things like:
- Loss of business to competitors
- Increased operating costs and loss of revenue
- Declining customer satisfaction
- Delays in the development of features (i.e.: key enterprise features that could have closed a major deal)
A lot of these issues, as we’ll see in just a moment, can be alleviated through training.
The main reason behind the skills gap
The number one reason behind the skills gap, which 43% of participants agreed to, is “we have not invested enough in training to develop the skills we need.” This is what we’re trying to solve here. We know this is a major problem for many organizations, not just yours.
The second reason is “it’s difficult to attract candidates with the skills we need to our industry.” This seems like a more difficult issue to address until we realize that training can help people already in our industry get those skills organizations need. Why look outside of the industry if we can find what we need inside of it?
Other reasons include:
- We would hire more people if there were more qualified candidates
- Our current training programs are not effective in developing the skills we need our employees to have
- We have not effectively anticipated the skills we need
- We do not have the ability to track and measure the skills that exist in our employee base
How training solves these problems
Now that we understand the problems faced by today’s organizations, let’s deconstruct how training can help solve them.
Effectively anticipating the skills needed
If you are training your engineers, they will have a much better understanding of the current state of the cloud and where it is headed. Couple that with a better understanding of your organization’s technology, and your engineers will be equipped with the ability to better anticipate what skills they will need a few months, and a few years, down the road.
This means you can begin hiring before you even need the skillset, so you can focus on finding the right person. You also don’t have to delay features or cost the company money for not being able to find the talent you need, when you need it, and it can help you forecast budgets more accurately.
You can better measure the skills that exist in your employee base
Whether you are working at a very large organization with tens of thousands of employees, or whether you are working in a medium sized organization with hundreds or thousands of employees, keeping track of who has what skills is extremely difficult. This leads to inefficiency.
The right training which provides you with the right visibility into your employee’s current and future skillset can, by itself, give you a huge return on your training investment.
For example, you can see which team member completed what training, and how they performed when their new skills were tested. You can tell who performs better for which real-world scenarios, and if a similar scenario ever arrives in your organization, you can look up the right person for the job instead of having to search through layers of management or even hiring externally for that specific spot.
Projects are completed faster
One of the previously mentioned issues with having employees who lack the skills your organization needs is that it causes delays in the development of projects. This could mean slower development of features, which could then mean loss of revenue.
For example, let’s say that your sales team is looking to close a sale with a large enterprise customer, but they have to have a specific feature or else they will walk away from the deal and go to your competitor who offers that very feature (even if they have an inferior product).
Your engineering team is unable to shift focus and develop that feature in the time required, and you end up losing the deal.
Of course, training does not mean your engineers will necessarily become 10x faster at developing features, but there can be a drastic development time difference between someone who already has the knowledge and someone who doesn’t.
If you asked me to create a deployment pipeline using containers on AWS, I could figure it out but I would have to do some research up front. If instead, you asked David on our team to set it up, he would have it done in a fraction of the time because he already has experience in that domain.
Training can literally mean the difference between making or losing a sale.
Training can lead to reduced troubleshooting time
Just as we previously covered increased speed in developing features, training can help engineers troubleshoot issues faster. This can have a direct return on investment by reducing downtime and increasing customer satisfaction.
If your customer support engineers have the proper training, they can identify issues faster, and they can, therefore, provide responses faster with fewer touches.
Have you ever learned something on your own, applied it, and later found out your setup left gaping security holes? I definitely have.
When I first started learning PHP years ago, I deployed this simple scheduling app to make my job easier. For some reason, I thought it was a good idea to make it publicly available. After only a few days, the application was compromised and I had to take it down.
Luckily this application didn’t contain any business-sensitive information or I would most definitely have lost my job and caused damage to the organization. After this event, I decided to take my first PHP course and within the first few hours of training, I started to realize I had committed the most basic of security blunders.
Take my story and apply it to your organization’s application. How do you know that your engineers are deploying secure infrastructure or secure code? Training won’t seem so expensive if a security breach costs you tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in damages
Meeting client or partner requirements
Another point to keep in mind is that certifications can help organizations meet client or partner requirements.
If you’re looking to partner with organizations, having certifications can help. For example, partnering with Amazon Web Services can require that you have a certain number of employees with certifications. Partnering with Microsoft Azure can have similar requirements. We work with organizations that have to train hundreds or thousands of employees to meet these requirements because they can provide great benefits. If you think your organization could benefit from this, be sure to check it out.
Having certifications can also help you meet client requirements. If your employees are training, why not use certifications as a goal to work towards?
A word of warning here: trying to force as many employees to take as many certifications in the fastest time possible can have negative consequences. Yes, it might make you eligible for the partnership requirements, but corners will get cut in order to earn those certifications, and you will end up with paper-certified engineers who don’t really have new skills. They just know how to game an exam. That doesn’t equate to a good investment.
Training is much cheaper nowadays
Some in-person training still costs thousands of dollar per head, but there are a lot of cheaper options nowadays thanks to e-learning. We, for example, offer a lot of free training for individuals, and whatever isn’t free is very affordable. The enterprise plans are also very affordable.
When you consider the return on investment, these prices aren’t really roadblocks anymore.
Looking at external training sources also solves the “our current training programs are not effective in developing the skills we need our employees to have” issue. Just like you wouldn’t try building your own smartphone if you were a banking firm, why build your own custom in-house training from end-to-end when there are professional online services that focus on this? Even if you have to have your own custom training for something very specific, employees still need access to external sources who have made a business out of training real engineers around today’s relevant technologies.
Go get your budget!
So in effect, by convincing upper management of the benefits of training, and by therefore providing your engineers with training, you can help your organization solve many of its toughest challenges.
This will make you look good, and it will make your management look good, too. It’s a win/win situation.
Because when you look at the number of benefits, and at the low cost associated with cloud training, it ends up looking like an easy choice. Now, it’s your turn to convince management to see it in the same way that you do, and we hope this guide will help you win them over! Good luck!