The Why, Who, When and What for training your analysts and BPM stakeholders

What type of training is best?

Today, with technology, there are lots of options for training. In addition to the traditional classroom/workshop environment, training is available through on-line tutorials, webinars, and books. Each of these methods has pros and cons that you need to consider.

Classroom/Workshop - Although the most expensive option, it is also the most comprehensive due to the interaction between the trainer and participants. Also, if training is done for a specific organization it can be customized to address the specific issues and needs of that organization. The key benefits are that attendees are able to ask questions and the answers are shared with the group, generating further discussion and better understanding. Frequently the training will include exercises so participants have an opportunity to practice methods and techniques reinforcing what has been learned. It also allows the trainer/facilitator to immediately correct any misunderstandings. This format is also useful when the information needs to be communicated to a large number of people to create a common understanding. This is particularly true when kicking off BPM within an organization so that everyone understands the reason, the process, and what is expected. The negative is that this training is more expensive than the other options and more difficult to schedule particularly if scheduling for a large group of people.

Webinar training - This type of training is generally conducted live on-line with attendees logging in so that they can hear the presenter and view the slides. These sessions range from a free 1 hour session often offered by software venders to full courses offered at a cost by training organizations. The benefits include lower cost and it is often easier to schedule depending on the number of attendees, length of sessions, and locations. Webinars are usually offered on a public basis to anyone who registers which helps make the training more readily available. Some training companies will customize and conduct these courses for a specific organization which still provides some cost and scheduling benefits. Although question and answer periods are provided, most of the benefits of interaction are lost and the format doesn't lend itself to any practise exercises therefore it is more appropriate for general types of knowledge. Another potential disadvantage is that if individuals login at their desk they can easily be interrupted and distracted and miss content.

E-Training - This training typically provides tutorials that are made available through the web that individuals can complete at their own pace. For the most part they are comparable to books. There may be competency quizzes at the end of each section to help individuals determine whether they have mastered the information and can go on to the next section. We have found that these quizzes generally test memorization as opposed to understanding. The benefit of this type of training is the low cost and the flexibility of scheduling. This type of training works best for very structured information that is to be remembered or memorized. The disadvantage of this type of training is that there isn't an opportunity to ask questions, share information, or discuss issues so it isn't effective for learning complex methods or developing skills where individuals need to practice what they are learning.

Books/workbooks - As a stand-alone training method, these have the same characteristics, benefits and disadvantages of E-training.

What type of training is best for your organization depend on many factors, not the least of which are subject matter, cost, availability, scheduling, geographic distribution, and time or a combination thereof. As you build your budget and plans for 2010, we hope this information will help you identify your training needs and identify the most appropriate solutions for that training. If we at BPM3 Inc. can be of any assistance in answering your requirements analysis or BPM training questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Training is an important building block for BPM and systems initiatives yet with all of the choices available; selecting the right training at the right time and for the right people can be a daunting task. Making the wrong choices not only wastes training dollars but produces delays or sub-optimal results. This article will help you select the best choices for your training dollars.

Why train?

If you were building a hockey or any sports team you would start by selecting players with a natural ability for the game and then provide training on the rules, skills, techniques, and strategies to improve their performance. The same is true in business.

Most Business and Process Analysts have been selected because they have demonstrated a natural ability to understand systems and processes within their organization. Few have had formal training on proper analysis techniques and documentation. Training is often done by their peers who were also trained on the job by their peers. As a result, many use methods and techniques that deliver less than optimal results. They often lack the knowledge to identify and implement methods that may be more arduous to perform, but deliver more reliable and accurate requirements. The IIBA (International Institute of Business Analysts) is attempting to correct this situation by providing a formal Body of Knowledge (BABOK) around which BA training courses should revolve. The ABPMP (Association of Business Process Management Professionals) has produced a similar body of knowledge aimed at BPM professionals.

Most business process improvement initiatives are in a similar situation. The resources assigned with the task of improving processes have either demonstrated an aptitude for process improvement or have key roles and responsibilities within the processes that are to be optimized. Although they have strong knowledge of the business, they lack any formal education in process analysis methods and techniques.

Providing training on the methods and techniques for BPM and requirements analysis should be your first consideration in creating a winning team if it has not already been provided.

Who should you train?

If your analysts have not already begun training to achieve the IIBA or CBAP (Certified Business Analysis Professional) designation that is a first step to building the knowledge and skills to gather effective requirements. Process analysts can benefit from the IIBA program but also require training on Business Process Improvement, process documentation, process mapping and modeling. There are a variety of courses available today to build specific BPM skills.

If your organization is embarking on an initial BPM pilot project or is planning on rolling out a more comprehensive process centric approach, a wider range of resources will benefit from training. Senior Management, management and key resources need an understanding of what BPM is, the methods used, and how it ties business objectives with improvements in the end to end processes. Key resources and stakeholders are often focused on their own piece of the process. The right training can help them adopt the end to end perspective and prepare them for the methods to be followed in achieving improvement that spans across the organization including customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders.

When should you train?

The old adage of use it or lose it is particularly true for training. Skills training should be scheduled within days, or weeks at the latest, of when the individuals will be able to apply the skills as part of their job. General requirements analysis and BPM knowledge training can be done within weeks of the initiation of BPM within your organization.