The Right Training for Each User

Budget for training and supporting different types of IS and non-IS users before you begin a project to migrate to Windows NT.

Richard Close

May 31, 1997

10 Min Read
ITPro Today logo

A rule of thumb says that 50 percent of all IS projects fail or never go into production.People, not technology, cause these projects to fail. Without skilled applications developers,systems engineers, and trained users, the risk of failure in any IS migration project is high. Tohelp ensure that your migration project doesn't fail, you need to provide the proper type oftraining and level of training for your staff and users.

In the case of Microsoft migration projects, the variety of training options and abundance oftraining resources make substandard training inexcusable. IS managers need to know that manytraining options are available for deploying and maintaining large-scale migration projects. Onceyou understand the issues (e.g., budget considerations, training methods, and levels of training)that you need to address while building a Microsoft migration training program, you can begin todeploy such a program.

Budget Limitations
To stay within your migration project training budget, you can distribute your training dollarswisely and set up volume-discount training contracts. First, layer your training so that you spendyour training dollars where you need them most. For example, spend extra money to give yourmission-critical staff quality classroom certification training, and provide economical self-pacedand on-demand instruction for your remote staff and light users.

Second, for large migration projects, you can develop volume-discount contracts withinternational IT training companies such as ExecuTrain, Global Knowledge Network, New Horizons, andProductivity Point. If you have regional or local requirements, contact your Microsoft branch fortraining recommendations or visit VUE's or Edusearch's Web site.

Training Methods
The Microsoft education team and other Microsoft divisions provide training for operating andmanaging a wide variety of Microsoft products. Microsoft-sanctioned training options includeAuthorized Technical Education Centers (ATECs), Microsoft authorized courseware, the MicrosoftOnline Institute (MOLI), Microsoft TV, and Microsoft Press. In addition to Microsoft's offerings,thousands of independent schools and curriculum developers offer Microsoft training materials.

As you prepare for your migration project, you need to select the right training format foryour users and staff. IT training comes in three fundamental formats: instructor-led (eitherclassroom or online), self-paced (computer-based training--CBT, video-based training--VBT,satellite, or Internet), and on-demand (Help desk support and software). Table 1 lists theMicrosoft-sanctioned resources available for each training format.

In addition to implementing the standard methods of training that Microsoft supports, manycompanies are beginning to assess employee skill levels using competency management techniques.These techniques let you assess the employee's skills and build a custom training curriculum to fitthe employee's needs.

Instructor-Led Training
Instructor-led training is still the most popular and most thorough form of training--it's alsoone of the most expensive. Combined with a certification program, this type of training is the bestpath for individuals whose knowledge is mission critical for developing applications or maintainingsystems.

Classroom and certification programs force the students to learn every available productfeature rather than let the students skip to the material about the product they think is relevant.When your systems go down and your department is on hold, you want these mission-criticalemployees to have comprehensive knowledge to restore the system as soon as possible.

Self-Paced Training
Self-paced training is more economical than classroom training and can be an on-demand trainingvehicle (e.g., an intranet-based training library). This type of training is excellent for users whoneed a basic understanding of the technology or who can't find time to attend formal classroominstruction. Self-paced training is also excellent for users and IS staff who are not directlyinvolved with the migration process, but still feel its effect. For example, a project to installWindows NT on the desktop in a Novell network requires that the Novell CNEs be familiar with desktopNT technology. You can set up a CBT or VBT library for individuals who are part of the migration butwhom you can't afford to train in the classroom. Self-paced training can also help you answer powerusers' requests for training.

Self-paced training plays a large part in the way many companies train their employees. Forexample, CBT Systems has a concept of an internal university that is accessible to anyone in thecompany through the intranet. Self-paced training is so economical that Manpower, an employmentagency, uses take-home CBTs to train thousands of contractors every year for free on everything fromNT to Oracle.

Another type of self-paced distance learning involves the Internet. Neville Gordon Carol ofMicrosoft took MOLI from a vision to reality two years ago. Just as its name implies, MOLI is avirtual online learning campus with online instructors and classes. This technology is the future ofglobal training and can deploy everything from interactive seminars on the Internet to certificationtraining. Although MOLI is a brilliant and useful training architecture, few users are aware of itscapabilities.

On-Demand Training
On-demand training comes in two formats: crisis (such as Help desk support) and desktop softwaresupport tools. Help desk staff need the most extensive certification training possible because theydirectly influence company productivity. When a user is stalled, the business is stalled.

In addition to providing good Help desk support, you can use online assistants such as those inOffice 97 to get users out of a jam and train them to be more creative with their businessapplications. CBTs on an intranet can also provide on-demand training.

Competency Management
The acid test of exceptional migration or re-engineering training programs is whether the users(i.e., engineers) can demonstrate competence in using the new technology for the business processesthey are responsible for. Competency management in IT training is a three-step process. The firststep is to test a user's soft skills, understanding of the business processes, and use of thetechnology. The second step is to deploy a customized curriculum for each individual based on acompetence model. The last step is to test and track the level of competence in all areas. "Onlycompetency management ensures that the user is competent in using technology for a specific businessprocess. It is what most training programs miss," said Shelley Couch, global alliance managerfor Global Knowledge Network.

Because competency management is a very expensive, custom form of training, most companies useit only on re-engineering migration projects with sophisticated training from organizations such asGlobal Knowledge Network and KPMG. Critics who complain that IT training fails to link technologywith the business process are often unaware of this type of training or are unwilling to pay for it.

To see a simple form of competency management at work, go to CareerAgent's Web site and take acompetency model test. Then check out CareerAgent's training schools and job database. This type oftraining may be the wave of the future and replace many college degree programs with virtualauthorization programs.

Levels of Training
Migration programs typically have three layers of training: application development, systemsengineering, and desktop user. Understanding these layers is important because they dictate how muchand what type of training (budget) your IS staff and users need. Microsoft had the insight tofragment its certification program to fit these IT support layers three years ago when it introducedthe Microsoft Roadmap to Education and Certification. (Microsoft re-cently changed the nameand focus of the Roadmap to Microsoft Training and Certification. To find out about Microsoft'sTraining and Certification program, visit the Web site.)

Application Development
The application development layer is for individuals writing code or scripts with languages suchas SQL, Visual Basic (VB), and C++ for client or server applications. These individuals need toreceive core classroom technology training in the Microsoft Certified Solution Developer (MCSD)certification program. You can supplement this training with economical support documentation fromMicrosoft Press.

Systems Engineering
Systems engineers build and maintain IS infrastructure components, including networks, networkservers, application servers, and operating systems. Because these components are mission-criticalresources, training based on a certification track is important.

Microsoft provides training for these systems engineers through its Microsoft Certified SystemEngineer (MCSE) program. Although many companies realize that certification testing ensures abaseline of core knowledge, they don't generally appreciate the constant flow of current informationon Microsoft technology in terms of updates, fixes, and techniques that an MCSE taps into.Certification testing forces a fledgling engineer to explore a broad base of technologies. You canbe sure an MCSE will not attempt to generate an NT system without knowing what's involved.

Desktop User
Pinpointing the appropriate amount of training for desktop users in any organization isdifficult because different users have different needs and varying degrees of understanding. Inaddition, the quest to make training relevant creates the requirement of customizing these classesto fit the needs of the business. For example, suppose you need to provide Microsoft Word trainingto a legal department using the company's legal templates. You might give the staff a half-dayjump-start class to help acquaint the users with the upgraded features of a migration (such as aWindows 3.1 to Windows 95 upgrade) and later provide select users advanced training through CBTs.

You can even purchase easy-to-use skills-assessment tools to go with CBTs for desktop users. "ExecuTrainCBTs come with skills assessment tools," says Kevin Brice, ExecuTrain's vice president oftechnical training. "After the users take the test, the courseware highlights the sections theyneed to study and thereby eliminates wasted terminal or classroom time."

Developing Your Plan
Table 2 presents a matrix of training options by job definition to help you decide what level oftraining each user needs. After you've applied this matrix to your users, you can turn this analysisinto a budget for your migration training project and begin to look for a local, national, orinternational training provider to deliver these services.

Qualifying and Finding Training Providers
When you're searching for a training provider, try three approaches. First, call your localMicrosoft branch and ask the regional education manager for referrals. Second, call the InformationTechnology Training Association (ITTA) and ask for a list of member companies. ITTA is a tradeorganization that meets annually to discuss ways to improve the quality of training. Finally, visitMicrosoft, Edusearch, or VUE online to find a training provider over the Internet.

To do justice to the topic of selecting a training provider would take several white papers. Myprimary advice is to test drive before you buy. Visit local training companies to get a feel fortheir facilities and review their evaluation logs. For CBTs, have your users try several vendorsbefore you buy multiple licenses. When dealing with customization, ask for references from thetraining provider's previous three engagements (this step will help ensure that you don't get thevendor's best three references).

Only some of the thousands of companies offering training on Microsoft technology arecertified Microsoft ATECs. Again, certification of instructors, schools, and courseware is yourinsurance that a training provider is willing to invest in quality. Knowing that a training provideris certified is a good start, but not a replacement, for obtaining detailed references.

Take advantage of all the options to optimizetraining

TABLE 1: Microsoft Training Solutions





Microsoft Authorized CertifiedTechnical Education Centers(ATECs), Microsoft Official Curriculum (MOC) courses,Microsoft Authorized Academic Training Program (AATP),Microsoft Online Institute (MOLI)

Microsoft Official Curriculum(MOC) courses (Companies that develop CBTs and coursewareto Microsoft standards), study guides, Microsoft Press,Microsoft TV (MSTV)

Microsoft Office 97 Help features,improved Help features in Windows NT and other products,Worldwide Customer Services Information

Microsoft Professional Programs,MSTV, conferences, branch conferences, branch seminars,user groups

TABLE 2: Training Deployment Options by Job Definition

Job Definition





Users/business processes communications

Custom instructor-led training

Custom computer-based training (CBT) orvideo-based training (VBT)

Help desk CBT on intranet


Users/desktop application

Remote satellite and in-house classroom instruction

Standalone and intranet CBT and VBT

Help desk add-on support applications

Internal mini-courses and communications

Systems engineers, network administrators/ BackOffice network and installation and support

Standard classroom training based on Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program

CBTs and self-pacedbooks based on Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program

CBTs on your intranet

Publications, Tech Ed conferences, user groups, Microsoft branch technical briefings

Application developer/ desktop and server application development

Standard classroom training based on Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program

CBTs and self-pacedbooks based on Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer program

CBTs on your intranet

Publications, Tech Ed conferences, user groups, Microsoft branch technical briefings

School and Certification Program Resources:


CBT Systems
* 415-614-5900

* 303-694-0777 or 888-694-0777

ExecuTrain * 770-667-7700

Global Knowledge Network
* 800-332-5656

Information Technology Training Associates
* 512-502-9300

Microsoft Online Institute

Microsoft Press

Microsoft Training and Certification

Microsoft Training Provider Database

New Horizons

Productivity Point

* 612-897-7999

Sign up for the ITPro Today newsletter
Stay on top of the IT universe with commentary, news analysis, how-to's, and tips delivered to your inbox daily.

You May Also Like