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The Way I See It … IT Skills Audits


How to ensure that investment in IT training addresses business needs.

All areas of a business are rightly expected to present a strong case outlining the need for any form of investment. While any company should, as a matter of course, set aside budget each year to cover training requirements, it still remains for training departments to decide how this resource is to be allocated.

Where IT training is concerned, it has often been a difficult task to assess its worth, and thus justify investment. While training sales staff might deliver more contracts to the business, how can you be sure that IT training is improving performance?

In recent years the IT training industry has made great strides in developing evaluation and measurement tools to enable businesses to accurately assess the precise contribution of IT training programmes. Leading IT training providers can now provide the analytical framework to ensure that investment in IT training addresses the businesses precise needs.

Conducting an IT skills audit:
Online tools available from leading IT training partners allow businesses to identify the exact level of expertise needed in IT departments for smooth everyday operations and the completion of successful projects. Conducting a skills audit of the organisation’s IT staff consists of three simple stages:

  • Cataloguing the businesses IT skills – IT personnel complete a simple online form which provides a detailed picture of skill levels across different disciplines for individuals and the team as a whole. The online tool takes into account previous experience, qualifications, and general levels of proficiency.
  • Identifying the skills needed in the business - whereas in the past IT was often viewed as a useful support centre to business’ operations, these days IT systems are often integral to a businesses performance and success. Accordingly, IT strategies have become ever more closely aligned with business objectives. With this detailed understanding of how exactly the IT department is expected to support the business, training providers can then provide a detailed summary of the expertise this requires.
  • Mapping the skills the business possesses against the skills needed – it is a simple step to plot the current skills of the IT team against the skills needed to support the business in its objectives. The process identifies exactly those areas in which the business lacks the necessary expertise and for which training is necessary.

Once the skills requirements have been ascertained, the business can then, in conjunction with an approved training partner, implement training programmes to develop those areas of expertise needed by the business.

Skilling the workforce for successful projects
Online skills audit tools can consolidate the businesses strength by ensuring that the business has in place the necessary expertise to make the most of its existing infrastructure. But it can also bolster the business for the future by establishing the key areas of skills development needed for the success of new IT projects.

Technology deployments play an ever greater role in delivering competitive advantage to business. To be at their most effective, technology deployments should be closely linked with the IT skills audits and the development of IT training programmes to ensure that the business has in place the skills needed to deliver a successful project.

Research published in 2003 by Burlington Research shows that the better qualified the staff, the greater the likelihood of IT projects running smoothly: a survey of more than 200 companies showed that as the percentage of certified staff increases, so the number of projects deployed on time and in budget increases.

Not a penny wasted:
Using online audit tools, training programmes can be drawn up to address exactly the areas of expertise the business lacks. This means that any training investment targets precisely the areas where the training requirement is most pressing.

Not one penny of the investment is wasted on unnecessary training programmes and the business has a clear understanding of the amount and scope of the training investment needed, and the role it will play in equipping the business’ workforce to face the demands placed on it.

By Kim Rubbo, Microsoft training and certification manager.


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