January 29, 2021
Sponsored by Kaseya
No profession stands still, but it’s hard to imagine an industry where things change as quickly as IT. The constant flood of new technologies, applications, devices and use cases is matched only by the deluge of security threats and defensive considerations. Keeping abreast of all these new developments is a daunting challenge, forcing MSPs to continually upgrade their knowledge, understanding and know-how through IT training. Not only must staff be aware of the latest and greatest tech, but they must also know how to work with it well enough to install, manage, and support this diverse and constantly evolving ecosystem.
In their role as trusted advisors, MSPs also require enough expertise to provide good recommendations to their clients and prospects, who are similarly trying to navigate this continually shifting landscape. They must be able to connect the dots between a range of business cases and requirements to determine which solutions to recommend and defenses to put in place.
This reality makes ongoing IT training a vital component of any MSP’s resource planning strategies and staff development. They simply can’t do their job well if both customer-facing employees and support personnel lack a proper understanding of these emerging-yet-essential technologies and products.
A Worthy Investment
Of course, this IT training and education comes at a cost. Allocating budget dollars and staff time to these professional development activities means less cash for other things and fewer man-hours spend on customer-facing tasks.
But the return on investment should far outpace any reasonable expenditure or pause in productivity. An informed and well-trained staff leads to increased efficiency and better decision making at every level, not to mention improved morale and employee retention.
By offering ongoing learning, management indicates that it values staff and recognizes the need to provide them with the tools for success while simultaneously proving career growth. Employees see this as a real benefit that actually increases loyalty and retention–despite making staff more attractive and qualified for positions outside the firm–because it signals that the organization values them enough to dedicate time and money for their own growth.
Ongoing employee training in marketable skills and technologies also makes a company more appealing to job seekers and potential hires. They recognize that the business cares enough about its employees to offer this benefit, which can be a real differentiator in a tight labor market.
While continuing to educate staff and keep them up to date on the latest technologies and techniques, it’s important to remember that not all training is created equal. There are three key criteria to keep in mind when evaluating which learning options will provide the greatest return.
There’s no shortage of topics for an IT professional to learn about, so it’s worthwhile to make sure staff are learning skills and technologies that will be most valuable to the company both today and in the future. Managers should look at their current portfolio, the near-term roadmap and their current staff’s various expertise as a starting point.
While individual professional development and preferences should be considered, MSPs should ensure their limited budget and time for training is spent on classes and subjects that either fill in the knowledge gaps for the organization or create redundancy in case the lone expert on a given topic is busy or moves on to a different role or opportunity.
Ideally, MSPs are at least two-people deep when it comes to subject matter expertise on the current technology stacks, have a minimum of one staff member studying up on each upcoming solution and trend, and have a deep bench of staff trained on the most commonly used applications. This ensures adequate coverage for what’s running now while planting seeds for the future needs of the company and its clients.
Quality and delivery
Since almost anyone can upload articles and videos on a given topic, it’s also a good idea to research the learning providers under consideration. Staff want an engaging, informative experience, and management doesn’t want to waste money on sub-par content.
Beyond the merits of the material, MSPs should also consider the methods with which this learning can be received. There’s a wide range of options, from on-site, in-person training to self-paced, asynchronous learning paths.
There should be a good match between the learning style of each employee and the delivery method, as different people have varying success with each. Additionally, the time commitment involved should be considered, since that’s as impactful on the ROI as the cost of the training itself.
For IT professionals looking to burnish their resume–or MSPs with clients that value these sort of things–getting an official certification for completing a course of study might be worth it. Obviously, the reputation of the training organization bestowing these certificates is important when deciding whether it’s worth paying a premium for a training program.
Rewarding employees who put in the time and effort with a truly marketable credential is yet another way to show the organization cares about their professional development and isn’t just trying to “check the box” when it comes to offering learning opportunities.
For MSPs seeking a one-stop shopping experience to launch, refresh or augment their employee learning offerings, there’s no better place to begin than the all-new MSP Mastered Certification. IT business transformation guru Erick Simpson leads this free certification program to help you gain the skills you needed to become a rock star MSP. This free program features four levels of learning, each accompanied by an MSP Mastered Certificate on completion.
Each level consists of six thought-leadership webinars covering the latest best practices in managed services. The program begins with Operational Fundamentals, followed by Service Essentials, Sales Mastery and Business Optimization.
These certificate programs are being offered sequentially throughout 2021, enabling dedicated students to bolster their credentials and absorb an incredible amount of valuable, actionable information all year long. To learn more about MSP Mastered and register yourself or staff for any of the certificate programs, visit https://join.itcomplete.com/certification.
Matt Solomon is Vice President, Business Development, Kaseya.
This guest blog is part of a Channel Futures sponsorship.
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