Technical resources are a significant investment for any MSP. So focusing on this critical team drives support activities that will deliver results for the business. In an ideal world, every last tech hour would be spent on servicing customers…making sure every hour is billable.
But a balance has to be struck between utilisation of team members on customer tasks and essential learning time. Learning is critical to accessing new technical solutions and programs from important suppliers. So it’s vital that the organisational culture emphasises a growth mindset to create the foundation for technical competency. But ultimate success depends on optimising the fine details.
What do ultra-successful MSPs include in their technical training plans that enable them to accomplish important technical training objectives within realistic budgets?
Balancing learning with earning
It is important that your technical organisation gains certifications, purely from a knowledge standpoint. In addition, critical supplier competencies can be vital to accessing deal leads and back end incentives. But there are workflow and financial challenges when pulling tech staff out of the field to attend classes.
The key is to find the right balance. MSPs should strive to keep the classroom option open, perhaps by purposefully selecting in-class courses that support only the most strategic vendor solutions. But MSPs should also identify education partners that support interactive distance learning. Resources like MOOC.org provides an incredible library of free online courses available to everyone. Combining these three learning vehicles can speed the time to certification and keep costs in line. Remember, the core objective is to land certifications that drive supplier competency benefits and lock in text book solution knowledge.
Hands on lessons
Of course, true competency means more than just certifications. There’s no substitute for the “real world” solutions insight that only comes outside the course or classroom experience.
One of London’s more famous Michelin rated restaurant is St John in Smithfield. Its founding chef, Fergus Henderson, is regarded by many as the driving force in the “nose to tail” dining, ‘the thrifty rural British tradition of making a delicious virtue of using every part of the animal”. The challenge was ensuring kitchen staff could perform gastronomic feats with parts of animals that are generally avoided. Henderson’s solution was simply to ensure that whole animals where almost always available in the prep area and that everyone on staff had time to spend learning.
MSPs can learn a lot from Henderson and his simple but effective combination. Have “whole” solutions available for techs to play with and push them to spend time with those solutions on a regular basis. Various studies, including one conducted by Purdue in 2009, show that supplementing textbook/lecture learning with hands on activity leads to higher comprehension of concepts. And higher comprehension is the cornerstone of executional excellence.
Once a tech has the knowledge, it is critical to spread it across the business. IT Documentation is the lifeblood of an MSP providing benefits around training of new employees, efficient execution of repeatable tasks, and support of process improvement motions. It is a sign of professional maturity as an MSP.
Now that members of the technical team have the training, it only makes sense to document processes that result from that training, right? But you have to find a place for this stuff…
So investing in a tool like ITGlue or utilising a service like BitTitan’s MSPComplete provides the “platform” for your techs to not only record important process, but they provide a means to locate those processes and efficiently utilise them to get things done in the business.
A good starting place for developing a training plan is to create a framework for your team. At a minimum, the training framework should include three key components:
- Clarify “the why” training is important for business success and make sure the technical team understands the role they play in achieving those results. These objectives should be time bound and measurable.
- Define “the how” behind the technical enablement process and the mix of learning types the organisation is deploying to meet those training objectives.
- Establish “the what” such as the specific courses, trainings, hands on, etc. that defines for the team where to spend their time.
An MSP’s ability to land on a defined training methodology helps the organisation meet the goals ─ deliver new solutions to market and meet supplier competency objectives…it can also be a springboard to developing a unique customer experience.
A well executed technical training plan can be a true difference maker for your business.
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