by: Chris Knotts, ASPE Creative Director
Some of the most important people here at ASPE are our professional training advisors. But who are these people? What do they do? Why is it worth it to our business to provide such a valuable service for free to anyone?
ASPE training advisors have one simple mission and that is to help you precisely identify your skills gaps and to develop a plan to get you the training you need in order to bridge those gaps. That is why we have a dedicated staff who does nothing but consult with you on your role and exactly how you might benefit from training. The more we understand your specific situation, the more we can use our knowledge of the current industry landscape, trends and tools available to help you navigate skills-based solutions.
Don’t get us wrong – we know it’s not always appropriate for you to take one of our courses. In fact, when ASPE entered the training sector years ago, we decided one of the most important reasons we needed to work hard to foster an extensive network of other players in the training industry was to make sure we could offer customers a training plan even when we didn’t offer the solution ourselves. A training advisor’s first priority isn’t always to sell an ASPE course. It’s to help find a concrete strategy to ensure that your training investment results in applicable and practical skills. It’s only on rare occasion that ASPE either doesn’t have a course from across our five training companies, or doesn’t have a partner referral who can offer you the exact training you need.
Think about your college advisor. Remember the approach he or she took when preparing you for the following semester? Young students often need coaching when making career decisions at such an early stage. So although the advisor was an agent of your college, the real job was to first understand your specific personal goals. My advisor was extremely helpful year to year as she watched me grow in my learning, but more importantly, as she helped me develop the exact career strategy I needed to adopt as I completed school and entered the workforce. It was not specific courses or credits that she was really concerned with; rather, it was what I wanted to achieve.
Training advisors at ASPE have the same mission as you college training advisor. What matters most are the specifics of your organization and the specifics of your own needs and goals. This is the first and most fundamental conversation that a training advisor will want to have with you before discussing any type of definitive training options.
Another key role is helping to distinguish between your certification needs and your simple skills gaps. Professional certification goals can often be just as complex as the overall landscape. There have never been as many certifications available as there are today. Is an accrediting body certification appropriate? Is a university affiliated certificate better? Or, do you need a vendor specific certification on a specific technology? These answers vary by field and by position but one thing is clear: the right industry certification is extremely valuable. It can be difficult to know whether these certifications will be worth it, however. At ASPE we’ve chosen to focus on a few key options: PMI credentials, Certifications from the IIBA, Executive-level business certificates, Google certification, and the software testing certification from ISTQB. Whether you need one of these or another credential, ASPE’s advisory can and will provide helpful answers and effective solutions.
The question often asked is what’s the catch is when it comes to providing this sort of service without any kind of guaranteed ROI. The reality is that we’ve found it to have incredible ROI. In the world of professional training, it’s amazing how often companies promote educational products as if they’re a sales-driven retail company. We feel that this isn’t the most effective approach to bringing high-level professional training to market. Rather, talking with people and treating their need for training as an educational opportunity revolving around THEM instead of our own product line. This attitude is something people appreciate and when people appreciate you, they’re more apt to become customers. What’s more, they’re more apt to become loyal customers. That’s what we’re really focused on at ASPE. And for those who ultimately don’t turn to us for training – we’re happy that our business model allows us to provide them with something of value regardless of the future relationship. At the end of the day, it’s well worth it to us and our industry to see professionals make informed decisions before deciding to engage in training – be it with us, with a partner, or with another resource altogether.
We operate in a very complex landscape. The enterprise project world functions in a way that’s heavily influenced by technology, global trends, and ever-faster absorption of new lessons and data in real time. These, combined with a high level of specialization and sophistication, are all factors that contribute to a world of training possibilities that can be very intimidating. Sometimes course content can be confusingly different (or confusingly similar) from vendor to vendor and course to course. It’s possible, and even easy, to begin a training search seeking to resolve challenges, but coming away even more confused than when you started. This should never be the case. The good news is that having so many courses available and having every specialty covered is ultimately a great thing. It allows for the gaps in your skills to be addressed in a highly tailored, relevant way. It also means that somewhere in the world there is training available that matches your job description with a high level of specificity. The challenge then becomes how to navigate all the options, and that’s why our training advisors make up one of the largest and most important departments in our firm.