Certified Professionals: Delivering Rapid ROI

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As budgets get tighter, most companies are forced to evaluate how to balance critical investments in IT infrastructure with investments in trained and certified IT professionals. Before discrediting the notion of implementing a training and certification program due to shrinking budgets, please consider the many ways a strategic training and certification program delivers rapid return on investment (ROI) to your overall IT infrastructure.

The benefits of attracting and maintaining a certified staff are wide and varied, but ultimately, a more knowledgeable staff that has demonstrated a commitment to professional growth has the ability to work faster, smarter and more efficiently, thereby saving not only time, but also valuable IT dollars. Training and certification programs are also a solid investment for individual IT professionals. The knowledge and skills gained through these programs provide them with an opportunity to fine-tune their skills, thereby adding value to their position within the organization.

Training and Certification Benefits from the Corporate Perspective

Supporting certification initiatives is a cost-effective way to reward valued employees while simultaneously reinvesting in the future of the company’s IT infrastructure. One of the top benefits of continual training is higher productivity. As IT professionals learn to leverage the full functionality of core technologies, productivity is naturally increased. Four other important benefits of training and certification programs from the corporate perspective include product benefit optimization, enhanced vendor relations, improved staffing stability and corporate reputation building. With a commitment to training and certification, companies can quickly experience rapid ROI in these areas.

Maximize IT Investments by Capitalizing on Assets

Since enterprise solutions are typically designed to address multiple business challenges, keeping trained and certified professionals on staff not only arms them with the skills they need to leverage the full scope of the technology’s features and functionality, but also helps companies troubleshoot problems as they arise. When put into practice, organizations with staff on hand who can utilize a wider scope of product functionality will benefit from a more rapid return from IT investments.

Jump-start IT Recovery and Improve Vendor Relations

With in-house staff available to address administrative and maintenance issues, companies can save both time and money. For example, having in-house staff that has been formally trained in your core IT infrastructure can help reduce the number of times external support is called upon to handle routine maintenance tasks. Additionally, when problems do arise that require the attention of external support, trained professionals are better able to communicate with vendors and therefore minimize system downtime. The end result is that problems are dealt with more quickly and efficiently, keeping your business up and running.

“In my experience, trained and certified technicians offer tremendous value to companies, not only because they’re equipped with the skills to handle basic troubleshooting, but also because they possess the IT vocabulary necessary to quickly articulate their needs to our staff when external support is necessary,” said Ron Ferguson, regional director, Americas, for Citrix Technical Support. “This translates into less downtime and ROI for the company.”

Stabilize Staffing and Reduce On-the-Job Training

As companies weather the economic downturn and seek to identify areas where spending can be nipped and tucked, keeping a staff that is trained and certified on the company’s IT infrastructure helps leverage the full value of IT investments. While some companies may view a cut in training and certification spending as a necessary economic decision, such action typically turns out to be more costly. Those organizations that invest in the education and professional growth of their employees, particularly of IT staff, end up saving more time and money in the long run. IT staff members who are recognized for their valuable contributions are typically more satisfied employees, which ultimately improves staffing stability for the organization.

Furthermore, the amount of time spent training new employees is often one of the biggest corporate losses when employees leave. Staffing stability has the added benefit of reduced investments in recruitment and on-the-job training. In addition, employees with a background that includes formalized training that is validated by the certification process bring a day-one level of readiness to the job that can save employers both time and money. “Certifications let us know that our employees are ready to hit the ground running,” commented Peter Kieren, senior IS analyst with Baytex Energy Ltd. “The learning curve of on-the-job training is shortened, and the margin of error generally associated with tackling new programs is reduced.”

Give your Corporate Reputation a Boost In addition to improving the stability of staffing, training and certification programs also increase overall corporate reputation. Just as certification lends credibility to an individual’s skills, having a trained and certified staff on hand provides a booster shot to companies’ reputations by implying a certain level of proficiency. That edge can translate into increased customer satisfaction or a competitive advantage in the quest for new business or industry recognition.

“In today’s competitive marketplace, any advantage you can bring to the table when lobbying for new business is essential. Having a certified staff is a proof-point to our overall commitment to excellence, and that’s something prospective customers react to and respect,” noted Chris Palagano, senior server specialist at Ohio Health.

Training and Certification Benefits from the Individual’s Perspective

From the individual’s perspective, cutting-edge technological certifications are invaluable resources. An in-demand certification can lead to greater job security and advancement, particularly during periods of economic uncertainty. Becoming certified in widely used technology solutions enables IT professionals to facilitate a company’s return on investment, thereby strengthening their long-term value. Training and certification programs also help users stay abreast of the intricacies of technological development and administration and the latest advancements in the field. The three most important benefits of training and certification programs from the individual’s perspective include job security, career advancement and enhanced credibility.

Sail Smoothly through the Rough Waters of Corporate Downsizing

In an economic downturn, the more skills employees have in their toolboxes, the more valuable they are to the organization. And as times become more difficult, those employees with greater skill sets will be less likely to experience staffing cuts. In addition to providing the technical support that companies rely on, by actively pursuing respected training and certification opportunities, employees demonstrate the type of commitment to professional development that employers find attractive. Not only do training and certification programs enhance job security, they also serve as an additional selling point for those applicants trying to enter an organization.

According to a recent Gartner survey, 83 percent of IT professionals surveyed reported that certification has helped them find employment, up from 62 percent in 1999. In fact, David Foote, president and chief research officer of Foote Partners and a former Gartner and Meta Group analyst, noted recently that certifications are a valuable tool for employers looking to minimize the risk associated with the hiring process. In addition, Foote hig

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