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Issue of June 2003 
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Grooming employees for technology success

Itís important for an enterprise to train its employees on company policies and best practices, as well as developing their knowledge and IT skills

Regardless of the huge investment that goes into IT infrastructure, at the end of the day, an organization's most prized assets are its employees. It's important for any enterprise to groom its employees by training them on company policies and best practices, as well as developing their knowledge and various skills. Training on IT-related areas like security, disaster recovery procedures, and Internet usage are equally important.

More than half the respondents acknowledge this, and overall 60 percent of the respondents have invested in Training in the past. However, interest in IT-related Training is on the wane. Last year, 40 percent invested in Training and in the next one year a little over one-third (35 percent) plan to invest in this area.

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Investment in IT Training has decreased this year in almost all sectors. To gain the maximum out of their IT implementation, or to popularize initiatives like enterprise-wide automation or security, companies need to indulge in training.

The two sectors that will spend the most on Training during 2003-2004 are Manufacturing/ Engineering (49 percent) and FMCG/Consumer durables (41 percent).

Sourcing the training budget
There is always a debate on whether IT-related training is a function of HR or the IS department. While the IS department is invol-ved in framing policies and guidelines for usage of IT infrastructure, it's up to functional heads to enforce it. And that leads to the question, where does the Training budget come from?

In any organization, Training is a function of the HR department. This implies that the Training budget is a subset of the HR budget. But 55 percent said the IT Training budget is a part of the IT budget. Since the IT budget is already constrained, it explains why the Training budget is shrinking. 46 percent also said the Training budget comes from the HR budget.

Healthcare, Chemical & Pharmaceutical, and FMCG companies are mostly clear that training in IT is to be spent from the IT budget. And most Telecom/IT/ ITES companies feel it's to be spent from the HR budget.

How frequent is the training?
IT infrastructure is upgraded or extended on a regular basis. And, employees need to be updated on these changes immediately. In some cases this training occurs round the year.

29 percent said training occurs only after project implementation, while 67 percent said they conduct training throughout the year.

The Auto/Auto components and Telecom/IT/ITES sectors conduct training throughout the year. While many companies in Services conduct training after project implementation.

Who conducts the training?
The other question that comes up is, should the training be outsourced or conducted in-house?

For those that have a separate IS department or have strong IT skill sets, it's better to conduct the training in-house. Otherwise one should outsource the training.

74 percent conduct in-house training while 68 percent outsource training to an external agency or the systems integrator.

Research Snapshots
  • 40 percent of the surveyed companies have invested in training last year, while 35 percent plan to do so this year.
  • In 55 percent companies, the IT training budget is a part of the IT budget and not the HR budget.
  • More than two-third of the companies conduct training sessions throughout the year.
  • 74 percent of the companies rely on in-house training, while 68 percent use external sources for training.
NM Suggests
  • In-house personnel should do process-centric training. And external specialists should impart training in generic areas like ISO/SEI-CMM certifications and stress management.
  • Training is traditionally an HRD-driven activity. So expenses for training should be a part of the HR budget. The IT Head should be involved in setting guidelines and specifications.
  • Training sessions should be held more frequently.
Do enterprises need IT training?

Companies are not very receptive when it comes to spending on IT training—unless they are from the IT sector. There are a number of reasons for this.

Money for IT-related training comes from the IT budget. And with squeezed IT budgets, training is the first area that is likely to be axed.

The staff is getting more IT-savvy. In the early days of computerization, a non-IT staff would have trouble using a command line interface. Now you can expect an average worker, who's been newly inducted, to know how to use a simple text editor, spreadsheet, and even e-mail. This is a far cry from the earlier scenario, when employees struggled even to use a mouse.

Most applications now have rich GUI-based interfaces, which have friendly help menus and drop-down boxes with custom responses.

What enterprises need to focus on is specialized training for initiatives like enterprise-wide automation, and security where there is a change in business processes due to technology implementation.

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