Keeping up with the training for new technologies can be a never-ending race. You have a nice Xeon server in your backbone, and it even has all the latest software installed on it. The question is: How do you train your users and support personnel to use it?

Develop your networking budget with training in mind
What is the knowledge base of your support personnel? How will your users take to the new software? That great e-mail program won’t work unless the support to use it is in place. When you’re crafting the budget for your hardware and software, include the costs to train your support staff.

Training is not cheap, especially if you have a variety of components to learn. When putting together a network, use a formula to calculate the cost of training. For example, figure out what your training vendor charges per hour, then multiply that by the number of support people you have. Let’s say you have 10 support people to train at $100 per hour. You are looking at $1,000 for one hour to training those 10 people. Multiply that amount by eight hours and you will have a total of $8,000. Now add that number to your budget and make sure you pad it when submitting it to management for approval. This will give you eight hours of training for your support staff.

Adding software or hardware means more training
Every time you add a piece of hardware or software to your backbone, you are faced with the chore of being able to support the new equipment. Pick your hardware with this in mind. How easily will it fit into your support team’s knowledge base? When submitting the cost of the equipment to management, include the cost of training. This rule applies to software as well.

As I mentioned earlier, that great e-mail program would be a good enhancement to the network, but do all its bells and whistles warrant the cost of training to deploy it across 100 users? Pick your software wisely. Many software packages seem to be the answer to the universe itself, but the training costs may be just as astronomical. As you expand your hardware and software capabilities, make sure that you can expand your knowledge base as well.

Sometimes you can get some free training if you know where to look
Some manufacturers offer seminars to get to know their software. Granted, most of the time, these seminars are just a hook to draw IT managers to their software. But even one-day courses can help you with your training needs. Send your support staff to these seminars or go yourself—you may learn that certain software trick that you never knew existed.

Microsoft is probably the leader when it comes to seminars, and they conduct training all over the country. For a great place to find out about different Microsoft seminars such as Tech Briefings, MSDN Development Series, and Tech-Ed, check out this site . Call your hardware manufacturers and see if they offer any seminars on the use of their products. Many of them do offer some kind of training.

When developing your infrastructure, you have to keep the costs of training in mind. Support staff as well as end users have to be given the knowledge to be able to use the many different products available. The hard work you have put into your backbone and all the software is useless unless your staff and end users are productive in working on your network.

Matthew Mercurio is the manager of information systems for Clear Channel Broadcasting. Follow this link to send Matthew an e-mail.