Education

Explaining to your boss why you need money for training

What good is a computer system if your people don't know how to use it? Matthew Mercurio shares his experience and tips on begging for training dollars.

When you’re trying to lobby your boss for training money do you feel like you’re talking to a wall? I don’t know about you, but it’s very hard to see eye-to-eye with my boss when we’re talking expenses. After asking for $50,000 to set up my network and buy some really cool software, it can be awkward asking for more money to train the end users.

In my case, getting my boss to spend some money is nothing short of dancing on a thin wire 100 feet in the air. In fact, someone once told me that the invention of the copper wire came from two managers stretching a penny between them. I have found that letting my managers see firsthand the need for training is the best way to approach them about training money.

A picture is worth a thousand words when it comes to begging for money
On my network, I have various types of software and hardware to increase productivity. We have ranking software that gives our salespeople the vital data they need to sell our product. This data is updated every three months and distributed through the network. We also use Outlook as our e-mail client. As you may know this software will allow scheduling of meetings, sharing contacts, planning corporate events, sending customized forms across the network, and, of course, e-mail.

I wanted my managers to see the potential of the network, so I set up a demonstration in a conference room for them. I also wanted them to see how sharing files, folders, and printers can really speed up productivity. I connected our big-screen television to the network and held a presentation showing the network hierarchy setup for all the managers and department heads. Even though there were many questions, I didn’t get much immediate feedback. So I posed some questions to them: Who has access to what folder? Who needs to print to what printer? What forms do you want to send across the network through Outlook? Once the brainstorming began, my managers started to see the potential of the network.

Setting the hook after casting your line
Once the managers had an idea of what I was trying to show them, I conducted an experiment with them. I made up a fictitious company called “My Wares Inc.”, and set up a small application, folder, and e-mail hierarchy on my network. I told the managers to practice using e-mail to set up meetings amongst themselves. I also gave them each a couple of spreadsheets and documents to fill out and share. I set a time limit of three weeks and told them to use the fictitious company network to practice.

After the trial run, I scheduled one more meeting to get their feedback. This time the feedback was immediate. They had many questions: How can I use the network to print? How do I use Outlook to schedule meetings? Where can I put a file and share it with everyone? After demonstrating on the big screen how to complete these tasks, I then posed the question, “With 250 users in the company, how can I get all the employees to become efficient in using these technologies?” The answer was unanimous. All the managers seem to agree that it would be worth the money to train the employees. After that, the next question was: With whom should we set up training?

You can use the best adjectives in the English language to describe your new technology and what it has to offer, but using real demonstrations and practices usually hit home the hardest. I let the network speak for itself, which took away the daunting task of asking for training money.

Matthew Mercurio is the manager of information systems for Clear Channel Broadcasting. Follow this link to comment on this article or write to Matthew .

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