How To Build A Business Case For Team Training

For DevOps and cloud-based shops, IT skills development is good for business. But getting the support for it internally can be challenging. This guide helps you put together a strong business case for team skills training. 

We'll cover key points like identifying the problem you need to solve with training, figuring out who needs to be involved in the decision-making process, leveraging your current resources, and framing the costs based on ROI.

By the end, you’ll be able to advocate the value and need for team training at your organization.

Identify the Needs

Ask yourself, "what problems are we trying to solve?" Clearly stating the need for training and how it impacts the business helps make a solid argument for organizations to invest in the right training. 

Additionally, knowing what could go wrong if you don't bridge the skills gap will strengthen your argument. For example, if you don't upskill, it might lead to lower productivity, quality decline, and high staff turnover. This could increase workplace stress, limit your scaling capability, and gradually erase your competitive advantage.

Here are some good reasons to consider technical skills training:

  • Enhanced expertise: Training provides an opportunity for your tech team to deepen their technical skills and stay updated with the latest industry trends and best practices. This enhanced expertise can lead to improved performance and better problem-solving abilities.
  • Employee retention: Offering technical training and opportunities for upskilling demonstrates to your team that you are invested in their professional growth. This can lead to higher employee satisfaction and retention rates, as employees feel valued and supported in their career development.
  • Adaptability to technological advancements: Technical training enables your team to adapt to technological advancements more effectively, ensuring that they remain competitive and capable of addressing new challenges in the ever-evolving tech landscape.
  • Improved collaboration: Technical training can facilitate better collaboration within the tech team by ensuring that all members speak the same technical language, share common best practices, and understand each other's areas of expertise.
  • Future project preparation: If the team is facing upcoming projects that need skills they currently lack, training in these areas becomes more crucial.

Upskilling your team through training can contribute to a more skilled, cohesive, and adaptable workforce, ultimately benefiting your organization's performance and competitiveness in the market.

Know the Stakeholders

Who owns the skills development budget, and how do they measure success?

Knowing who holds the purse strings for skills training lets you zero in on what matters most to them and communicate in a way that clicks. You should also seek to understand how trainings are planned and paid for at your company.

Here are some common ways skills training budgets are set up:

  • Each developer gets a set amount of money every year for training as part of their job benefits. This lets each person choose training that helps them grow in their career.
  • Each department has a specific discretionary training budget. This is common when the training is just for that department's needs.
  • The company has a learning and development department with its own budget. This department takes care of training for all employees.
  • The money is pooled from different places, like the CEO’s office and the L&D department. This usually happens for big training programs that help many departments.

Different roles or departments approve money for different reasons. This knowledge lets you link your training request to outcomes they value. For example, the engineering team might care most about productivity and output, while HR might focus on diversity and career development.

The way success is measured is usually split along organizational or competitive metrics. Here’s a rough breakdown:

Organization Metrics:

  • Quality
  • Revenue
  • Profitability
  • Productivity
  • Risk mitigation
  • Employee satisfaction
  • Diversity and inclusion
  • Customer metrics (acquisition, retention, and satisfaction)

Competitive Metrics:

  • Market share
  • Pricing power
  • Market penetration
  • Performance/speed
  • NPS (Net Promoter Score)
  • Recruiting ability and velocity

Knowing which metric(s) applies in your case can help you show how tech skills training will meet those goals.

Say you're suggesting skills training at a company where the L&D budget is shared by engineering, HR, and the executive team. Each of these groups cares about different things.

Engineering focuses on getting things done efficiently and ensuring quality output. If you suggest training in a new programming language, you’d need to explain how this will enable the team to finish projects faster with fewer errors.

HR is most interested in employee satisfaction, diversity, and inclusion. In your case, you’ll want to emphasize how the training will increase productivity and staff retention.

The leadership team thinks about big-picture things like revenue, competition, and customer satisfaction. They want to see how training impacts the bottom line. You could show how training enables the company to take on bigger, better-priced projects. Better tech skills also lead to happier customers and stronger market positioning.

Tailor your request to each approval group and their main objectives for a higher chance of approval.

Who’s Your Internal Champion?

An internal champion is someone within your org who supports your proposal and can push it forward. Once you’ve identified a champion, here's how to work effectively with them:

  • Be clear about what you need from them, including time and any resources.
  • Understand their expectations from the program. They might want someone else to manage the training or insist on reviewing it themselves. Some might prefer bringing in an external expert for more specialized training. Be ready to compromise.
  • Discuss how much control your champion wants over the program. Some might want to be closely involved in every step, while others may prefer a more hands-off approach. Aligning on the same page helps avoid stepping on each other’s toes.
  • Consider ways to de-risk the proposal for your champion. This could be something like starting with a pilot phase to prove effectiveness and iron out issues before a full-scale rollout.

Addressing these issues with your internal champion increases the chances of approval.

Know What to Leverage

Existing tools and systems at your company can make your new training program faster, cheaper, and easier to implement. See if you can find existing enrollment, delivery, training modes, or evaluation methods.

  • Enrollment: Check if there's a Learning Management System (LMS) or other platform currently in use for training enrollments. Using these systems can make it easier for staff to sign up and for you to track each participant's progress.
  • Training delivery: If your company already works with training partners, consider using them for your program. They might already understand your company's needs and can offer relevant training.
  • Training modes: Look at the types of training already available at your company, like self-paced online courses or instructor-led classes. Familiarizing yourself with what's available and what's been effective will help you decide the best approach for your new program.
  • Evaluation methods: Use existing tools like survey platforms to get feedback on the training. This can help you measure effectiveness and see what improvements are needed.

Frame Costs to Your Benefit

The cost of your training program also includes the cost of inaction or delay. Here's how to frame the total costs and benefits to your stakeholders:

  • Cost of inaction: Explain the current challenges & negative impacts if the team doesn't get the training. For example, if they don't learn new software, they will take longer to do their work, which will impact revenue. It will also impact the company’s ability to respond to future RFPs.
  • Actual training costs: This includes time away from work, opportunity costs, training material, tech licenses, evaluation costs, and travel and delivery costs for each trainee or instructor.

When estimating costs, be conservative. This way, if the training session ends up costing less or doing more good than you said, it’ll be a pleasant surprise for everyone. 

Show how the training will contribute to revenue generation, cost savings, increased productivity, or enhanced output quality. For instance, better-trained employees are more efficient and make fewer mistakes, which impacts customer retention and revenue growth.

Know the Weak Spots

A new training program may require buy-in from several stakeholders. You need to know what potential worries or issues these people might have with your plan.

Think about who might oppose your request and why. This could be due to how much it costs, how long it’ll take, or because they don't see how it fits with the company's goals right now.

Think of ways to address these concerns. For example, if the company is facing tough economic times, explain how this training can save money in the long run. 

If it’s about work not getting done, suggest a training schedule that doesn't disrupt daily tasks too much.

Choose the Right Time and Place

Choosing the right time and place to present your case for skills training is as important as your proposal itself.

Look for a time when key decision-makers are more likely to be receptive to it. Avoid busy periods like end-of-quarter or major project deadlines.

A calm period when they can focus on your proposal is ideal. You might want to time your request with your organization’s budget planning season.

When scheduling the meeting, consider everyone’s calendars. Propose different times for maximum attendance.

Prepare and rehearse all your materials. This includes any slides, handouts, or documents that support your case. 

After your presentation, follow up. Send out a meeting summary, answer additional questions, and provide more information where needed. Timely follow-up keeps the momentum going.

Build a Strong Business Case.

Presenting a compelling argument for vital skills training involves identifying the root cause, understanding the key decision-makers, assessing your company's existing capabilities, and determining the associated costs. 

Use this guide to articulate to stakeholders the significance of team training and its positive impact on the company.

KodeKloud offers a wide range of hands-on courses that are great for team training. See what our students have to say!