Training Matters

Training - the acquisition of knowledge, skills and competencies - is an essential part of any employee's toolkit for their daily jobs and without it employees will struggle to do their job in an efficient and successful manner. For an organization, it is crucial that the right people are trained well to use tools, such as a Content Management System (CMS), so that the organization can fully leverage the potential of their investment.

Why is training important?

When it comes to simple tasks we can often get informal on-the-job training or passed on knowledge from peers that help us undertake the tasks we need to complete.  Often this informal training is not well structured and can lead to an individual's bad practices being adopted by more team members. Furthermore, the explanation will contain only the most necessary information and usually shows one single method achieve a task, rather than explain alternatives.

An enterprise CMS however is more elaborate than informal training can help you understand. Actually comprehending the task you are undertaking, why you are undertaking it and what you could do to improve the way you undertake that task is something that informal training cannot deliver. Structured training addresses your team's comprehension of the CMS -for a content editor this means a level of understanding that goes beyond the simple tasks to understanding the parts of the CMS and its unique properties. For example, it is the difference between knowing how to publish a page and knowing what happens when that page is published.

This level of comprehension should not just be limited to just content editors; marketeers, administrators and developers should also comprehend the CMS. Even if you outsource, having trained people at all levels will make the difference in helping and guiding the business along the right path

The benefits of training

So, good training is important; but what can you expect from a well trained group of employees?

Productivity improvements
When working more efficiently and skillfully they will have more time available. They can then shift their attention to other things such as working on a site redesign or improving the Search Engine Optimization of the site. They will feel more motivated because they can do things better and quicker.

Reduced staff turnover
I have experienced situations where employees have left an organization because they did not feel they could get on and work with the tools provided to them. Their motivation was so low that they no longer wanted to work in the organization. If they had been trained they would have felt better about their jobs, more motivated and more willing to commit to their work.

Improved time to market
Getting a marketing campaign completed in time for the product launch is crucial for a marketeer. Through training they will have not only reduced the time needed to create that campaign in the CMS but will also now know how to better combine web, print and email into the same coordinated campaign; reacting to the changing needs of the market as well as other departments better they are now ready on time or even ahead of schedule. 

Cost savings
Doing more with less effort is the obvious goal of training people. If they can perform the same tasks but in a faster and simpler manner then the time spent on simply managing content is reduced; typical cost savings are fewer mistakes, and better reuse of existing materials and resources.

Measuring the success

Success of training is measurable in many ways; one way is to calculate how much time we save through innovation on our CMS and translating this into the resulting cost savings.

Take the following example:

Content editors manage content for news articles. They create around 20 each per day which were written by other employees using Microsoft Word. Creating the news items means copying over the text from Word to the content components, taking around 2 minutes and then saving the item. The content editors spend up to 5 minutes per news article altering the formatting which Word or the other employees had placed on the text. They then create a page, add the news article to the page and publish it. This last step costs a further 2 minutes. In summary this is:

Minutes to create news content = minutes to copy text + minutes to format the text + minutes to create a page and publish.

Which calculated is:

(2 minutes to copy text + 5 minutes to format the text + 2 to create the page) * 20 news items per day = 180 minutes. 

Unknown to the content editors the developers had not been trained to implement the CMS and they were not aware the CMS has two features that would help the content editors. The first is an XSLT filter to remove unwanted formatting from the text. The second feature is automatic page creation and publishing mechanisms that means that the editors do not need to create the pages or publish the first draft to the preview site manually.

A developer needs 5 days of training to achieve the required level of comprehension to implement the above mentioned functionalities. This training costs 750 EUR per day (incl. expenses); totaling  the cost of training to 3,750 EUR. To implement the features required, a further 5,000 EUR of development effort, testing, QA and roll out brings the total cost for the additional features including general training to 8,750 EUR.

The result of the implementation is  a time reduction in creating a news article to just 2 minutes from the original 9 minutes. This means the time needed to create the daily 20 news articles per editor is now just 40 minutes.

In summary, an example calculation:

  • Feature development cost = 8,750 EUR

  • Hourly cost of a content editor: 40 EUR

  • Cost per 20 articles prior to the new features: (20 items x 9 minutes) * 40 EUR per hour = 120 EUR

  • Cost per 20 articles with the new features: (20 items x 2 minutes) * 40 EUR per hour = 27 EUR

  • Saving per 20 articles: 120 EUR- 27 EUR = 93 EUR

  • Time to return the investment = 94 days at 20 items per day

Looking further into this example it is clear that the method of writing articles in MS Word, sending it via email and then adding content to the CMS is an old fashioned process. In a more modern process,  you would let the content owners, those who are creating the Word documents in the first place, take direct ownership of creating content either directly in the CMS or through a simple inline editing tool such as SDL Tridion SiteEdit 2009. This would release the content editors from the 40 minutes per day as they would not longer need to create the news articles for the content owners but review the items only. Since the initial investment in training the developers not only includes the features mentioned earlier, but delivers comprehension for all elements of the SDL Tridion suite, the developers are capable of implementing SiteEdit 2009 without additional training.

To estimate your ROI for this additional step, you only have to take the editorial training for the content owners (commonly half a day) and the cost of implementation against the content editor's savings.

It is clear that structured training can significantly improve the overall performance of employees and the tools that they work with. In our simple example we have reduced costs significantly as well as making more time for content editors to work on improving their website. With structured training for all roles we see yet further benefits with little or no additional investment in training.

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About the Author
Julian Wraith
Principal Consultant

Julian Wraith is a Technical Account Manager with SDL Tridion and has worked with the company for 8 years. He specializes in infrastructure related matters and is a Certified Consultant. Next to helping customers with their WCM needs, Julian is instrumental in many of the Knowledge Sharing activities at SDL Tridion. In the past, Julian has arranged the quarterly knowledge sharing between customers, partners, certified consultants and SDL Tridion. He was also a SDL Tridion MVP in 2010 and is the recipient of a SDL Tridion Community Builder Award for 2011. You can follow him on Twitter and via his personal blog.

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