Flexibility, Targeted Learning and Creative Configurations: The Power of Tailored Tech Training

Brian Carlson | Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Flexibility, Targeted Learning and Creative Configurations: The Power of Tailored Tech Training

When choosing technology training solutions for your IT teams, there’s a lot to consider. But there’s no reason for you to do it alone as it’s a lot to handle. You need to consider your skill gaps, the unique skills each person needs, the quality of the training content and the trainers, the costs, the amount of time the training will take, and the extent to which the training vendor will work with you to meet your training needs and even help with course enrollment.

A quality IT training company should do all it can to make your job easy and be flexible with the training programs it offers. For example, if you can’t have everyone out of the office for a five-day training course, the training company should be able to offer alternative options like running the class over half-days for two weeks or over five Fridays. No matter your business needs or constraints, a good IT training company looking to form a long-term working relationship with you should be able to help you develop a realistic training roadmap and provide the right courses to help you meet your goals.  

With a bit of creative thinking and some flexibility on the parts of your IT teams and your training partners regarding the “when,” “how” and “what” of your training, you can get authorized training that’s configured in a way that suits your operations.

What tailored training looks like

Below are a number of ways you and your training provider could tailor training to fit the schedules, learning styles and skill-building needs of your company’s participants.

Take a flexible approach to lab work. You may have time constraints, especially if some IT employees work billable hours for customers. Consider a lab model in which participants do their first lab or two in class with the guidance of an instructor and complete the remainder of the labs on their own time.

Employ trainer “office hours.” Mixed with classroom training across the duration of a course, office hours are helpful for students who need more one-to-one support from the trainer. These hours can be especially useful for certification and exam preparation, providing students with dedicated blocks of time with instructors to talk through topics like sample exam questions. At the end of the classroom series, this time gives students a chance to ask any remaining questions as the course is wrapping up.

Split training into chunks of time that may not follow the traditionally prescribed schedule. If needed, look for ways to condense, expand or otherwise reconfigure the timing of training delivery. For example, traditional training may span a five-day business week, but if your team can’t be out Mondays, the fifth day of class could run on another day, or the class could run on five consecutive Fridays. Work with your training vendor to space your training across times that suit you. The course might take longer to complete, but you’ll get the benefit of the entire course content. Your teams may even find it beneficial to have those intervals of time to apply what they’re learning and bring practical examples and questions back to the instructor-led portions of the training. 

Center the training on the tools you’re actually using. For instance, if your DevOps team is building a CI/CD (continuous integration/continuous delivery) pipeline, the instructor can focus training on the tools the team is actually using.  

Build courses that are relevant to your needs. Based on the way you need to use your technologies, you may want to build customized courses that use a variety of different training modules from a variety of different courses. This streamlines time spent learning so students aren’t burdened with learning skills that your organization doesn’t use. For example, your customized class could consist of five modules from an AWS course, three modules from a containers course, and four modules from a Kubernetes course. If your team needs data science training and you’re in a financial services business, request that the trainer use examples relevant to that industry.  

What’s needed to successfully tailor training?

The training company should have a wide range of specialists in selected fields of technology. This gives you a strong bench depth of instructors, a team of experts who among them can answer the most unique, obscure questions your employees may have. Instructors should be able to adapt standard content and examples to your industry, be deeply familiar with the respective certification exams, and be able to deliver training in a way that is best suited to your employee’s needs rather than following a  prescribed schedule.

The learning plan is also essential. Bring key cross-functional decisionmakers into the planning, so that both business and technology leaders can express their needs.

Work with the IT training company to discover the answers to the following questions:

  • What do our students know?
  • What do they need to know?
  • What technologies do they work with or need to work with?
  • Would it be better for us to enroll in the public classes you teach or in private group training?
  • Should we offer students a mix of self-paced and instructor-led learning to fit our budget?
  • What are our total training needs?

Understand what employees know before and after taking a class. It’s important to measure the knowledge they've gained after taking a class to help you recognize what they next need to learn. After your students complete a course, speak with the IT training company to discover what their instructors may have discovered about other training that may be needed within the IT department. And talk with your employees to get their feedback on the training. If it’s a multi-part training that will take place over time, do interim checks so you can work with the instructor on anything that needs to be refined for the current students or for the next group of your employees who will take the training. Repeat this process as you go, and you’ll likely see improved results.

What to look for when choosing a training partner

Look for a vendor that’s willing to tailor training to meet your needs. If the training company tries to drive you toward a one-size-fits-all model, standard courses with no flexibility for changing the curriculum, it may not be looking after your unique needs. For example, if the vendor isn’t willing to consider incorporating self-paced training into a training plan and tries to force you toward instructor-led only, it might not be the best fit. The right training partner will work with you to help your IT teams meet the company’s goals.  

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