Why Education and Certification Matters for Tech Service Providers

It seems obvious that better trained employees will have a positive impact in any business. Yet, a recent survey by Accenture found that 35% of executives say they have not invested enough in training to develop the skills they need, and 64% anticipate loss of revenue due to this skill gap

At Layered Tech, we’ve seen tremendous benefits from our internal training and certification programs. For example:

  • Better Customer Service: By completing training and certifications, we’ve seen Layered Tech technicians translate that knowledge into faster resolution of issues for their clients, shorter down time and longer mean time between failures (MTBF).
  • On-Site SMEs: While Layered Tech still uses vendor support as needed, our internal training programs have helped fill our staff with on-site, certified subject matter experts (SMEs) to help resolve issues. This often results in faster turnaround than waiting for a vendor agent to research the issue.
  • Stronger Offerings: Through training and certifications, Layered Tech has implemented additional security controls to protect the assets of its clients and offers the industry’s only 100% Compliance Guarantee to clients using Layered Tech’s Compliant Hosting services.

I’d like to share some details on these programs, and some tips about creating, or improving, your internal training programs.

Documenting and Distributing Tribal Knowledge

Most companies will experience a certain amount of turnover in staff. When this occurs, management is faced with two critical concerns: loss of expertise and “ramp up” time for a new employee.

At Layered Tech, we’ve found that documentation and cross-training are the best ways to maintain that knowledge and on-board new team members faster. Here are two specific tools we use:

  • Layered Tech Wiki: Since the technician resolving today’s issue may not be the same technician on duty if it occurs again next week or next year, Layered Tech team members use our internal Wiki to record procedures. These Wiki articles, along with the trouble tickets are linked to the device and are available as a resource to any future technician supporting the same device.
  • Hosting University: Layered Tech’ core training resource is known as Hosting University, an internal portal with 90+ internally-developed courses. New employees are given an individual curriculum plan (ICP) tailored with specific courses based upon their new job role. When the ICPs were implemented four years ago, Layered Tech’s Vice President of Operations said his ramp up time for a new technician went from six weeks to four days!

Continuing Education and Certification

Retention of knowledge and new staff training are certainly important, but what about new technology? What can we do for existing staff to help them acquire the skills and knowledge to keep the company competitive in a rapidly changing market?

At Layered Tech, we provide and incentivize training to keep our staff on top of new technologies and processes. One resource we rely on is a continually-updated external training portal with approximately 350 courses containing over 7,000 training videos. Layered Tech employees have averaged more than 36-hours per year in training.

Training and certification require time and commitment from an employee. While this can be a hurdle to overcome, many learn that time spent in training actually makes their job easier. They spend less time struggling and searching for a solution, and have more time to implement preventative measures.

At Layered Tech, we celebrate our employees’ devotion to training and certification by publically recognizing their individual achievements and awarding them through our very-popular bonus program. During the past three years, 51 employees have earned a total of 67 certifications. These certifications include Cisco, CompTIA, Digium, ITIL, Linux, Microsoft, NetApp, Oracle and VMware technologies.

Creating your Training Program: Where to Start

If your company doesn’t have a formal training or certification program in place, you may have questions about what training is needed or will be most effective. Employees can often provide input here. They know the issues they are struggling with. They are also aware of newer technologies that may help them in their current job role.

Clients also provide input on training needs. When a Layered Tech client requests support for a specific type of hardware or software, company management often begins looking into what training is available to help the staff support this new technology.

Promoting continuing education and certification among your employees is definitely a Win-Win-Win situation. The employees are more knowledgeable, confident and satisfied. The clients who receive better service are more loyal. And that loyalty often translates into referrals and new business opportunities for the employer.

About the Author:As Manager of Education for Layered Technologies, Bob Jones has led the enhancements to Layered Tech’s employee development program. Mr. Jones came to Layered Tech from Sony Electronics, where he spent 26 years gaining extensive knowledge in applications development, systems software, data security and personnel management. In addition to his depth of experience in multiple IT disciplines, Mr. Jones has a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri, and taught computer science courses at the university level.

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