A common question within Software Development is whether to build software or buy a product already on the market. I believe a similar thought process could be applied to companies growing their technical talent. I believe there is room for discussion and logic with both types of scenarios, but I want to make a case for building your company’s talent pool.

 

The current environment that many companies are experiencing in software development, is the need and budget for growth, expansion, and reinvestment. With the shortage of specific technical talent, companies are engaging in drawing talent away from other company’s in a race to provide better culture, more cash, and benefits that outpace a developer’s last opportunity. We have a wage disparity problem as well as a talent shortage for experienced technical talent at many companies. In many tech markets, there is a growing trend for developers to settle into a new job and shortly after getting into the workflow, they will receive an offer from another company with more money and more intrinsic benefits.

 

As I think about the resources expended for that process, one can begin to project the costs for training, acquisition, relocation, cost, and the list goes on. Time is another factor which severely impacts opportunity cost, morale, and project releases that affect workflow, budget, and of course, profitability. Three misconceptions I believe we must face:

  1. We are too busy to create a customized curriculum for our onboarding and promotion of talent.
  2. The cost is too high for sending good talent back for training.
  3. The time to adequately train and develop talent takes too long.

 

Essentially, the ROI comes down to time and money and where time is money- we all face the investment of a lifetime: build or buy……

 

The first misconception regards curriculum development. Where does this process of curriculum development live within a company? Does HR take on this role? Perhaps- but depending upon the company and function of HR, they may not be Curriculum Developers or Instructional Designers. The responsibility could live in a specific department (in this case software development or IT) or even at the talent acquisition level. However, the question to ask is whether anyone at the company has this particular skill set? If so, build and create an advisory team to manage. If not, you must buy. Successful curriculum combines culture & strategy, key performance indicators, and the creativity that drives innovation into the company. Partnering with a curriculum provider, wherein you customize your company’s approach, brand, and differentiating aspects into a formal program that is certificate based- you can create massive ROI on many levels.

 

With more and more training naturally falling into the hands of employers, there is a clear and present need to have a curriculum strategy towards developing specific positions within the company long term. If you partner, remember to choose subject matter experts, a school or program with a history of regulatory oversight, and performance that meets or exceeds your needs. The ability to add a credit option to your company’s pathway provides Higher Education options, tax advantages, and overall employee satisfaction through ongoing personal development.

 

The second misconception is that training and continued education is too expensive, and I will add the myth of “we’re just paying to train our competitors next employee”, as I am sure we have all heard. I believe Sir Richard Branson said it best, “Train people well enough so they can leave, treat them well enough so they don’t want to”. Training does take time and does take money, but the alternative is a stagnant environment void of innovation, creativity, and best practices. Keeping your employee’s skills current is both wise and cost-effective as you will see company productivity raise, employees happiness increase, and idea generation grow.

 

Nearly 60% of employers provide tuition reimbursement, professional conferences, and other continuing education and professional training opportunities. With all of the technology advancements and companies turning to software, machine learning, and data sciences to solve problems; you cannot afford not to educate your current and future employees. When providing further education, be sure to hire specific talent to create your company’s’ development strategy internally or partner with a school or curriculum provider. My belief is that you should have a say in what is taught to your employees. You know your business and your needs; often times you just need someone to articulate that into a program. Remember to utilize curriculum that integrates with your current delivery system and/or Learning Management System, for optimal results.

 

The final misconception is that it takes too long to adequately obtain skills or education. Many colleges and Universities provide accelerated certificates, advanced degree options, and online options. Those methods are great, and I believe it is time to include a stackable methodology with a focus on competency attainment and execution. If we want specific results we need specific training and education. Be sure to vet out the employee’s desires by their previous education choices, paired with the type of outcomes you need from them. Testing is great, but I personally would rather have someone who can perform a task effectively, than test adequately. There is an old saying that practice makes perfect- in recent years I have heard that changed to perfect practice makes perfect. I tend to believe “How you do anything is how you will do everything”. ( T Harv Eker)

 

If we can understand the outcome that we need the individual employee to obtain, and create the learning environment that compliments his or her learning modalities- we can create a foundation for learning and advancement for our specific company. We cannot stop there because there needs to be dynamic delivery of the curriculum and accountability where performance is mutually expected. Finally, give the employee the ability to teach and play a leadership role. That is when you will see the tide that raises all boats with a learning environment that fosters trust, growth, and protects the bottom line.

 

Three additional suggestions for your company to consider:

 

#1 Trust your current employees with the direction of the curriculum and program.

#2 Give ownership to someone internally to be the point of contact or development resource.

#3 Compare available options for curriculum as it relates to overall strategy for employee growth and delivery options (Focus on ROI).

#4 Send the leader who will then teach the team. Find or create blended learning options for learning engagement so the leader becomes the teacher with resources.

#5 Based on the curriculum, the outcomes, and the performance objectives set clearly visible goals that are tied to the competencies obtained.

 

Additional articles:

 

Training by the numbers:

https://trainingmag.com/sites/default/files/images/Training_Industry_Report_2016.pdf

 

Understanding the ROI of training:

https://www.shrm.org/academicinitiatives/universities/teachingresources/Documents/09-0168%20Kaminski%20ROI%20TnD%20IM_FINAL.pdf

 

Benefits to employers who train:

http://time.com/money/4305549/paying-their-workers-college-tuition-can-pay-off-for-companies/

Scott Schwab

Author Scott Schwab

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