Now, more than ever, manufacturing companies are reviewing their budgets to identify areas where cuts can be made. All too often, employee training is among the expenses that fall "below the red line". However, those that consider training an investment, rather than an expense, realize that now is the time to develop employees and prepare for growth and better times to come. This is especially true when cuts have included personnel layoffs where remaining employees need the tools and knowledge necessary to efficiently do their job and take on new tasks as well.
Whether you are considering ERP software training or some other type of employee development, it is imperative that you review all available training options to ensure that your company is getting the most return on investment. The key points to consider are as simple as remembering the Five Ws: "What, When, Why, Where, & Who".
WHAT type of training is needed? Identify areas in the organization where process improvements can be made or where employees can benefit from improved skills. Regardless of whether your HR staff needs to get up to speed on the latest tax laws or learn about the additional features of their HR software; or if your warehouse staff needs to learn how to better utilize their WMS software package, outlining the specific challenges is the first step.
WHEN should training training be taken? Some needs are more immediate than others; while other types of training are best suited for specific times of the year. Make sure to consider, not only when the training is available, but also look at what times work best for the employees involved. For example, planning a five day training class for your accounting staff at the end of the fiscal year, probably isn't the best choice. Some training classes are offered on a pre-defined schedule, while others are flexible to your needs. If you don't see what you are looking for, WHEN you need it, don't be afraid to ask. Often times, companies are willing to move things around to meet your needs whenever possible.
WHY is training needed? You've already decided what areas need improvement. The next question is to determine what you are trying to achieve with the additional training. Is it improved processes, skill development, software knowledge, etc? Once you have determined your training needs and expectations, review the available course descriptions and agendas to find the classes that best suit your needs. When available, request to speak to a trainer that teaches the course to discuss your expectations and ensure your needs will be met by the class. A small amount of preparation up front can prevent wasted training dollars.
WHERE is training offered? In this day and age, "where" can be a physical location such as a training facility, your own facility where a trainer comes to you, or a virtual location where you are connecting to a live or pre-recorded training session via the web. Each "location" has pros and cons that must be weighed to identify what best suits the needs of your organization.
WHO should attend the training? Particular care should be taken when answering this question. Choosing the correct personnel to invest in, is critical. First, make sure to choose people who share information well. Using a "train the trainer" concept to develop internal experts can help lower costs and free up training dollars to be used elsewhere in the organization. Other things to consider are the expected longevity of the employee, displayed aptitude with current responsibilities, eagerness to learn and grow, and availability, just to name a few.
Overall, investing in your employee's continuing education will give them the confidence and knowledge to perform tasks more efficiently and effectively. Ultimately, the payoff can be seen internally with improved productivity and morale and can also reach outward to improved customer relationships and customer perception.