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Software Training: Consultancy vs. Courses

Aug 17, 2007
The majority of office employees use software applications from the Microsoft Office suite. Although they use such programs as Excel, Word and PowerPoint regularly it is common to find that they will have undertaken no formal training in their use. Due to the differing nature of each individual business, the way in which these applications are used may have become very company specific.

An increasing number of training companies offer consultancy services in addition to training courses based on the topics of standard course syllabus outlines. There are a number of pros and cons to these alternative approaches which need to be considered when identifying which type of Microsoft training is right for you.

Training Course Pros
Attending a training course offers an inexpensive solution to providing training. A training course provided by an authorised Microsoft training company provides a structured approach and ensures all the main elements of a particular program are adequately covered. The courses are easy to organise with fully networked, modern specification IT being provided by the training company.

Training can be undertaken on a public schedule course or on-site at your offices, with leading Microsoft training companies in the UK offering daily public schedule courses for popular programs such as Microsoft Excel. This means there is ample scope for employees to attend a training course at a time and location that is convenient for them without necessarily removing all users from the work environment at the same time.

Training Course Cons
As a training course provides a set syllabus to a number of trainees who may have vastly differing previous knowledge of the application, time may not be used efficiently with some delegates being taught techniques they are already familiar with or that do not apply to their situation.

The dates for such courses will not be as flexible as those available with consultancy, however, with many Microsoft training companies offering courses on each program as often as twice a week, finding a suitable date is unlikely to be a significant issue.

Consultancy Pros
Bringing in a consultant means that specific problem areas can be targeted without the feeling that time is being wasted going over unnecessary ground. It also allows company specific procedures to be adequately addressed and perhaps also updated and improved. This type of approach is ideal if the main requirement is to build onto an existing application e.g. spreadsheet redesign or development.

Consultancy Cons
If those employees being trained have very limited experience with the application then employing a consultant is likely to be a more expensive solution to provide the basic training than attendance at a standard training course.

Which of the two options provides the best solution to a company's training needs varies depending on specific circumstances. If very standard, basic knowledge is required across the board then training courses are likely to provide the best solution. If more specific requirements or problems exist using consultancy services may be more appropriate.

In many situations it may be that a combination of the two provides the most effective solution. Employees can develop the basic skills through training courses and then use a consultancy agreement to build on these skills and deal with company specific issues and requirements.
About the Author
Author is a trainer with a Microsoft training company, the market leader in its industry. For more information on training courses and consultancy, visit www.microsofttraining.net
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