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Confronting the Training Dilemma in the AE Industry

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					Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

A White Paper Courtesy of ZweigWhite
> Compliments of Bentley Systems

February 2005

www.zweigwhite.com

Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

Executive Summary
The A/E industry is trapped in a professional training dilemma. Smart managers understand the value of a well-trained workforce, but the business realities of an industry driven by billable hours often interfere with the ability of firms to train their employees adequately. Data from ZweigWhite on training underscore this challenge:
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80% of managers in a research study of A/E firms said time is one of the biggest obstacles to training their staff 51% of A/E firms do not establish an annual training budget, and those that do typically dedicate only 0.5% of net service revenue to training A/E firms spend 21% less than other industries on training per employee

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The answer to the A/E industry’s training dilemma lies in fully understanding and communicating the benefits that training brings to an A/E organization, quantifying ROI, and optimizing ROI by developing a program that accesses flexible, comprehensive, and focused sources. There are three major benefits of a well-trained workforce:
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Better work environment Increased productivity Higher quality

All these benefits can have a bottom-line effect. The percentage of the IT budget spent on professional training by fast-growing A/E firms is more than twice that spent by typical A/E firms. By collecting pre-training data and post-training data, any A/E firm manager can measure the ROI of a training program. Managers can monitor the improvement in the work environment by tracking employee satisfaction, turnover rate, and recruitment costs. Increased productivity can be measured by employee chargeability and firm profitability, and quality improvements can be tracked by examining change orders, billing issues, and client satisfaction. Using ROI to justify an investment in a professional training program is only half the battle for an A/E firm manager or training professional. The training resources must be flexible, comprehensive, and focused. Employees who want or need training should be able to get that training conveniently, easily, and with as little disruption of their daily work routine as possible. This dynamic is one reason driving the trend toward “blended learning”— an approach to training that takes into account a variety of different delivery methods, including on-site meetings, offsite seminars, and computer-based and web-based e-learning. Subscription-based, blended-learning training programs, such as the Bentley Institute’s Enterprise Training Subscription (ETS) program, can be effective in meeting the training requirements of A/E firms. Given the reluctance of most A/E firms to tear billable workers away from client projects, the broad range of training options available in the subscription model should give forward-thinking managers and training professionals their best hope of overcoming the “tyranny of utilization.” The ability of the Bentley Institute’s ETS to offer great quantities of diverse information, targeted to the A/E industry and available to subscribers at a moment’s notice, is a tremendous asset in providing training that is flexible, comprehensive, and focused while delivering a substantial ROI.

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Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

The Training Dilemma
The A/E industry’s professional training dilemma is created by the force of two sides pulling in opposite directions. Managers know that in a perfect world, employees would have all the time they need to get exactly the training they need. They also know that well-spent training dollars lead to a better-performing firm. But the business realities of an industry driven by billable hours often interfere with the ability of firms to train their employees adequately. In a recent research project conducted by ZweigWhite, 80% of managers in A/E firms said that time is one of the biggest obstacles to getting their staff the training it needs. One manager noted that his firm faces a training Catch-22— when the firm has the money to spend on training, the staff is usually so busy that people can’t afford the time to train. When things are slow enough that employees have time for training, money’s usually tight and the firm isn’t likely to spend it on training. With this dynamic in play, the A/E industry historically trails other industries in training investment. According to ZweigWhite’s 2004 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms, more than half (51%) of A/E firms do not establish an annual training budget. Those that do set an annual training budget dedicate only one-half of one percent (0.5%) of net service revenue to training, and most actually spend less than they budget. The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that companies in all industries spend an average of $826 per employee on training, compared with $650 per employee spent on training in the average A/E firm, according to ZweigWhite data. If training can’t make it as a line The business realities of an item in the budgets of more than half of the A/E indusindustry driven by billable try’s firms— and when it does, the amount is 21% less hours often interfere with the than the average for all industries— the A/E industry is ability of firms to train their falling short in its efforts to keep pace with its training employees adequately. needs. This discrepancy isn’t the result of apathy or a failure to recognize the importance of training. According to ZweigWhite’s 2004 Information Technology Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms, nearly one-third of firms (31%) say that training is the biggest challenge they face with technical/production/CADD applications. Training was second only to standards among firms responding to the survey. And when asked their firm’s biggest IT-related training needs, 68% included CADD training and 57% said they needed more time for training. If a firm is to have any chance of conquering this dilemma and providing its staff the training it needs, the first step is for its leaders to fully understand the benefits of a well-trained workforce.

The Benefits of a Well-Trained Workforce
Managers and training professionals in the A/E industry identify three primary benefits of a well-trained workforce: a better work environment, increased productivity, and higher quality. Each of these benefits contributes to a firm’s overall well-being in a number of ways.

Better work environment
■ Morale. If everyone on staff has sufficient training to do his or her job, the work effort is smoother and less likely to be derailed by the tension of an underqualified teammate. Training also breeds a confidence among employees that leads to greater job satisfaction.

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■ Retention. When an employee receives the correct amount and type of training to perform his or her job at peak efficiency, that employee will typically be happier at work. When employees like their work environment, they’re much less likely to seek or accept a job elsewhere and turnover goes down. ■ Recruitment. Peers and competitors within an industry talk. If employees at a particular firm are satisfied in their job, and if the work environment is welcoming and appealing, others in the industry will know about it. A company that is serious about training its people can more easily “sell” a recruit on the decision to switch jobs— especially if the firm has a reputation for being progressive in its approach to training and is known in the community as a great place to work.

Increased productivity
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Efficiency. A focused, well-rounded, professional training program gives employees the tools to gain greater competence in their individual jobs and responsibilities. Well-trained employees know what they’re supposed to do and how they can do it in the most timely and efficient manner.

■ Profitability. With improved efficiency through training, employees should get more accomplished in less time. It stands to reason, then, that this increase in employee efficiency should result in higher profitability as the same number of employees (at the same cost) would get more done. More work in the same time equals higher profitability.

It’s critical for managers and training professionals to quantify the expected return on investment (ROI) the firm will receive from a comprehensive, focused training program.

Higher quality
■ Work product. The most basic mission for an A/E firm is to provide its clients with the technical expertise necessary to get a specific project completed. Employees properly trained to deliver that expertise will turn out a better work product than their lesser-trained counterparts. ■

Change orders. A well-rounded training program can help employees avoid errors that lead to change orders. Well-trained employees can also identify and confront potential problems early enough in the process to head off disputes and disagreements between parties in a project. Client satisfaction. Keeping customers satisfied and coming back is a primary goal for every A/E firm. If a well-trained staff can deliver a better work product with fewer problems, overall client satisfaction is bound to go up. If professional training can deliver these benefits to an organization, why is it such a struggle for many firms to invest time and money into an adequate training program for their employees? ZweigWhite’s research shows that firm leaders often find it difficult to justify making the necessary investment when margins are slim, backlog is high, or money is tight. Unless a firm’s top decision-makers can see plainly and definitively that training is worth the investment of time and money, they are unlikely to become advocates for the program. And if the upper management isn’t behind a training program, it’s not going anywhere. For this reason, it’s critical for managers and training professionals to quantify the expected return on investment (ROI) the firm will receive from a comprehensive, focused training program.

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Quantifying the Benefits of Training
Despite the wisdom of measuring professional training ROI, most companies rarely attempt it. According to an ASTD survey of companies across all industries, only one-third even try to measure training effectiveness, and fewer than one in eight calculate the business impact of training. A/E firms do not routinely measure ROI in many areas of their business either. For example, ZweigWhite’s 2004 Information Technology Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms found that less than a quarter (21%) of firms have tried to measure ROI on specific IT projects/items, and only 4% on their overall IT investments. In the ZweigWhite research survey, managers and training professionals said they typically rely on qualitative, rather than quantitative, evidence that a training program is yielding the desired result. Employee feedback, managers’ reports, and overall firm performance are the tools many A/E firms use to gauge training ROI. Yet these methods lack the true impact of actual ROI measurements. Writing for Managing Training & Development (March 2004), training professional Jack Phillips, Ph.D., said that CEOs and managers at all levels want and expect ROI measurement for training expenditures. “Training managers need to harness the ROI process in such a way that they can build respect for their training departments and build staffing and budget,” Phillips says.

“Finding the ROI of a particular training program is not a discrete event but should be part of an ongoing process. ”

Why do firms fail to measure training ROI? Most likely because determining the ROI of a training program seems a more daunting task than it actually is. In an article entitled “Measuring the ROI of Training,” CIO magazine says, “There is a misconception that ROI should be left to mathematicians with glasses thick enough to peer through a haze of regression models and partial derivatives. That perception of complexity has deterred many from attempting ROI studies. But, in fact, doing a training ROI is just a fancy way of doing cost-benefit analysis.” The simplest way to measure ROI is to use the following basic formula:
(total benefit - total costs) = ____ X 100% = ROI total costs

For example, if the average billing rate for a drafter is $50, and his average chargeability is 75%, his work would earn the firm $78,000 in one year (30 hours/week X $50 X 52 weeks). If the drafter were to then undergo training that cost the firm $2,000 (including fees, expenses, and lost billable time) and that training improved the drafter’s productivity to the point where his average chargeability jumped to 80%, his revenue earned would increase to $83,200 (32 hours X $50 X 52). That’s an increase of $5,200. Plugging those statistics into the ROI formula yields the following results:
($5,200 - $2,000) = 1.60 X 100% = 160% $2,000

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Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

So by providing training to a single drafter, that increases the drafter’s productivity to the point where he can get two more hours of billable work accomplished per week, and a firm can yield a 160% return on investment. What’s clear from this example is that any effort to measure ROI must include a pre-training sample as well as a post-training sample. The CIO article notes, “Because ROI requires measurements before, during, and after training, finding the ROI of a particular training program is not a discrete event but should be part of an ongoing process. The focus on pre-training measurements also helps align a program with the overall IT strategy.”

Communicating a Training Program’s ROI
The training industry offers an abundance of data supporting the contention that a comprehensive, focused training program typically delivers significant ROI. More specifically, A/E firm managers and training professionals can find ample data to support the belief that well-trained employees help improve the work environment, increase productivity, and improve quality. In most cases, firms can also measure their own ROI in each of these areas as well.

Better work environment
According to a survey by international business consulting and training firm AchieveGlobal, there is a correlation between employees’ training and their job satisfaction. Eighty-five percent

Case Study: One Firm’s Experience with ETS
A 400-person engineering firm in the Midwest has learned first-hand how the Bentley Institute’s Enterprise Training Subscription (ETS) program provides flexible, cost-effective training services. The firm was a long-time user of Bentley Institute professional training classes, including e-learning and remote lectures. But when Bentley Institute’s ETS came along, the firm’s principal in charge of training didn’t hesitate to sign on. The numbers just made too much sense, especially since he knew he would soon need to send 80 newly acquired employees to MicroStation training sessions. At about $500 per employee, and with an expectation of at least two sessions per employee, the principal’s cost/benefit analysis showed that the Bentley ETS plan would save the company thousands of dollars on those employees alone. Those numbers made it easy to sell the investment to his fellow principals. The ultimate goal for the subscription plan was to have another 120 to 150 of the firm’s employees take advantage of the ETS program. About halfway through the subscription year, the firm was on track to meet that goal. Most importantly, the firm principal saw immediate results. “From the start, we’ve found that people are learning something new every day,” he said. “We’ve had people sign on during their lunch hour and come to me and say, ‘I learned two or three new things today.’ That’s a measure of success.” This principal’s two primary goals for the ETS program are a better workplace and few problems on a day-to-day basis. He hopes to achieve the latter objective by promoting discipline and consistency through the ETS program. “When you’re working in a computer environment, glitches come up,” he said. “Different people do things different ways. What we’re trying to do is teach consistency across the board, then produce consistent work.”

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(85%) of employees at companies that offer a formal training and development plan are satisfied or very satisfied with their job. Seventy-five percent (75%) of employees who are dissatisfied or very dissatisfied say that their employer provides too few training opportunities. If professional training increases job satisfaction, it should also decrease turnover. A Harris and Associates poll found that among employees who say their company offers poor or no training, 41% plan to leave within a year. Of those who say their company offers excellent training, only 12% say they plan to leave. Lower turnover results in hard-dollar cost savings for firms because the cost of hiring a replacement employee can be high. According to Forrester Research, the average cost to hire ranges from 25% to 100% of a worker’s annual salary depending on the type of job, the skills required, the tenure of the former employee, and corporate HR policies on hiring. A/E firms face hard costs as well. According to ZweigWhite’s 2004 Policies, Procedures & Benefits Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms, firms estimate they spend a median of $3,000 per new hire. If they involve an employment agency, which nearly half do, the median cost per position filled jumps to $11,667.

Keeping the program infused with corporate enthusiasm and sufficient funds requires ROI data that show how the training program directly benefits the firm.

These and other available statistics can give a manager or training professional leverage to convince upper management to invest in a training program. However, keeping the program infused with corporate enthusiasm and sufficient funds requires ROI data that show how the training program directly benefits the firm.

For most measures, this is not as difficult as it sounds. For example:
■ Employee surveys. To gauge any change in morale, a firm can conduct two brief employee surveys. Both should include employees participating in the training program, as well as those who are not. The first survey would come before the training begins (or shortly thereafter), and the second would be administered after a reasonable amount of time had passed (e.g., six months, one year). The goal of the survey would be to measure the staff ’s overall job satisfaction, as well as the reasoning behind their opinion and specific feedback about training. Morale improvements, expressed quantitatively, can bolster the argument for continuing or expanding a training program. ■ Turnover rate. Most firms track their turnover rate, and it’s an easy metric to track. Firms just need to divide the average number of full-time employees during a specified period into the number of people who left the firm during that period (voluntarily or otherwise). The result, expressed in a percentage, is the turnover rate. In terms of tracking ROI, a firm should measure the turnover rate for the preceding six months or one year (or the established period being set aside for completion of the training program), then check the turnover rate again after a similar period of time has passed. Any improvement is a feather in the cap of the training program. ■ Recruitment costs. Firms can track two areas to measure ROI as it relates to recruiting. First, the firm can diligently tally the cost of a new hire. Having this number allows a manager or training professional to put a concrete cost savings on the improved turnover rate. For example, using the $11,667 cost per position filled figure from the ZweigWhite survey, a 2% improvement in turnover rate in a 500-person firm would save the firm over $110,000 in recruitment costs. Secondly, the firm can track, on a monthly basis, unsolicited resumes and the hit rate for

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Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

new employee offers to measure whether the firm’s training program is helping boost the firm’s reputation in the local A/E community.

Increased productivity
An ASTD study found that companies that spend in the upper quartile of training expenditureper-employee enjoyed higher profit margins (by 24%) and higher income per employee (by 218%). And a study funded by the U.S. Department of Labor discovered that a single hour of formal training typically yields a four-hour spillover of informal training, as employees pass their learning on to those around them. A/E firms can measure their own productivity improvements in a number of ways, including:
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Chargeability. Are the trainees getting more billable work done during an average workday? Put another way, are their billable hours increasing along with their work output?

■ Profitability. Advocates for a firm’s professional training program should encourage upper management to monitor changes or improvements in the firm’s profitability to help determine the financial return on its training investment. More specifically, the firm could measure the income generated by participants who have completed the training program and compare that figure with historical measurements of their contribution.

Higher quality
The effect of training on quality improvements is difficult to quantify on a global basis because the work product in various industries differs dramatically. In the 1980s, Motorola Corp. published a historic study that claimed a 28-to-1 quality improvement as a result of its training program— a study that won Motorola the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award. Now it’s certainly not wise for any training manager to promise a $28-to-$1 return on the firm’s training investment, particularly since the Motorola case study included technological and equipment upgrades that contributed to the high ROI.

A 2% improvement in turnover rate in a 500-person A/E firm would save the firm over $110,000 in recruitment costs.

Training firm Avatech Solutions presents a more realistic result. In a survey of more than 1,000 companies, they found that 82% reported improvement in their quality output following a training program. In the A/E industry, quality is measured in a variety of ways. What’s most important is that the client gets the best solution in accordance with the industry’s famed “three-legged stool” of quality, schedule, and budget. Measuring the ROI of an A/E firm’s training program with respect to quality may take into account the following areas:
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Change orders. Is the firm seeing fewer change orders from clients of the trained employees? This is particularly notable if the employee participated in project management or CADD training. Billing issues. Is the average collection period dropping for the firm overall or among the trained employees’ clients? If so, this may indicate fewer disputes and happier clients.

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■ Client satisfaction. Is the company’s percentage of repeat business rising? If so, the firm’s training program could share in the credit. Also, if a firm routinely participates in client satisfaction surveying, it could measure training ROI by adding a specific question to the survey. For example: “Have you noticed any recent changes in our project team’s ability to deliver services to your organization? If so, please describe those changes.”

Set goals for the training program, then track the ROI measurement that will best reflect the true value of the training as it relates to those goals.

Tracking these metrics costs time and money, so the key is to be selective. Set goals for the training program, then track the ROI measurement that will best reflect the true value of the training as it relates to those goals.

Also, to keep costs down, a firm should decide which metrics it plans to measure and put in place the process to conduct those ROI measurements early on. An accurate measurement of ROI relies on good baseline metrics. Attempting to measure ROI in midstream costs more and is likely to result in less accurate, less trustworthy ROI measurement.

Optimizing a Professional Training Program’s ROI
Using ROI to justify investment in a comprehensive, focused training program is only half the battle for an A/E firm manager or training professional. The program must also serve the firm’s needs as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible. Most importantly, the training program must recognize and accommodate the industry’s culture of billable hours, a culture that one A/E firm leader in our research group termed “the tyranny of utilization.” This means that a truly effective training program should work within the confines of the cultural and operational pressures in a firm. In other words, employees who want or need training should be able to get that training conveniently, easily, and with as little disruption of their daily work routine as possible. There is no shortage of training opportunities available to A/E firms. Providers include consulting firms, training organizations, professional associations, software vendors, and so on. Training comes in a variety of delivery methods as well— brown-bag lunches, in-house training, outside seminars, and e-learning, to name a few. A comprehensive, focused training program— one that delivers necessary training to a high percentage of those who need it, and does so with relatively little disruption of a firm’s daily operations— is likely to take advantage of a number of these sources and methods. The training resources must be flexible, comprehensive, and focused.
■ Flexible. Since billable work takes precedence over almost everything in an A/E firm, a successful training program must provide the flexibility to allow employees some leeway in when, where, and how they can take the training. This does not mean that training needs to be available 24 hours a day in every possible manner. Employees simply need a variety of options to help them fit the necessary training time into their schedules. ■

Comprehensive. A successful training program should ensure that employees have a depth of materials, topics, and sources from which to choose. This is particularly important in an industry where training needs often develop on the fly— in response to a newly won project or a change in client preferences. “Just-in-time training,” as this type of training is often called, is a reality in the A/E industry, and a training provider that accommodates this approach is more

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valuable than one that does not. Even outside the just-in-time framework, a deep training resource is more likely to offer employees the information they need to train most efficiently.
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Focused. A common complaint from A/E firm leaders is that too many training programs are not specific enough to their firm or their unique role in the industry. The best training programs ensure that the training is being delivered by a source that is knowledgeable not only about the subject being taught, but about how the application of that knowledge fits into the overall business model for the firm and the industry. This dynamic is one reason driving the trend toward “blended learning”— an approach to training that takes into account a variety of different delivery methods. By combining a variety of training delivery methods, including on-site meetings, off-site seminars, and computer-based and web-based e-learning, A/E firms ensure that employees are availed the greatest opportunity to take advantage of the training program.

Growing Popularity of Blended Learning
E-learning’s growing prominence in the A/E industry and in the general business environment is a major reason that blended learning is catching on. E-learning proponents report impressive, across-the-board improvements in the effectiveness of self-paced, technology-based training over traditional classroom methods. Industry analyst and researcher Brandon Hall found that companies experience a 40-60% cost savings when comparing instructor-led education with technology-delivered courses, and that learning occurs 50% faster online than Employees who want or in a classroom setting. need training should be able The American Society for Training & Development’s 2003 State of the Industry Report says that training delivered in classrooms decreased from 77% in 2001 to 72% in 2002, while training delivered through e-learning increased from 10.5% to 15.4% in that same period. That trend shows no signs of slowing.

to get that training conveniently, easily, and with as little disruption of their daily work routine as possible.

Training magazine published similar statistics in its 22nd Annual Industry Report, “The majority of survey respondents indicated a massive shift in their preferred delivery methods— a shift that yielded the biggest bang for the buck: e-learning,” the magazine noted. Our own data suggests that the trend toward blended learning has reached the A/E industry as well. ZweigWhite’s 2004 Information Technology Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms found that 72% of respondents provide in-house training for CADD, 72% provide onthe-job training for CADD, 46% offer off-site training for CADD, and 21% offer self-paced training for CADD. Blended learning satisfies not only the need for flexibility in training programs, it also provides options for learners with a particular preference for how they receive the training they need. For example, some A/E firm leaders believe that classroom-style training is best because it ensures that the training occurs and it encourages interaction among trainees and trainers. Others say that self-paced e-learning yields better results because employees can absorb the information at their own speed and at their own convenience.

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Firms that offer a blended learning program— preferably established as part of a comprehensive and focused strategic training plan— give their employees the greatest opportunity to find the right training at the right time in the way that best suits their unique situation and needs.

Subscription Training Programs
So how can the A/E industry balance the need for a better-trained workforce with the realities of a culture driven by billable hours? How can employees get the training they need to improve their overall job performance without putting the company’s financial well-being at risk? The answer lies in fully understanding and communicating the benefits that training brings to an A/E organization, as well as planning a flexible and cost-effective framework for delivering that training. Throughout this paper, we’ve outlined a process for achieving this goal. 1. Recognize the benefits of training 2. Quantify return on investment (ROI) for training to sell the program internally 3. Optimize your ROI by developing a program that accesses flexible, comprehensive, and focused sources of training information. The A/E industry’s growing acceptance of blended learning as the preferred method for achieving training objectives begs the question, “How can a firm structure a blended learning program to fulfill its training needs?”

The Bentley Institute’s Enterprise Training Subscription (ETS) program provides the A/E industry with blended learning resources for training on the company’s various software packages.

One solution is a subscription-based learning program, such as the one offered by Bentley Systems, Incorporated. through its Bentley Institute professional training division. The Bentley Institute’s Enterprise Training Subscription (ETS) program provides the A/E industry with blended learning resources for training on the company’s various software packages.

Bentley’s ETS meets the established criteria for providing a flexible and cost-effective training framework by offering reserved access to Bentley’s training resources, including in-person, remote, and selfpaced classes. A one-time annual fee covers the program, reducing administrative involvement and providing the subscriber with a basis upon which to establish a software training budget. How does a subscription program such as Bentley Institute’s ETS specifically help A/E firms overcome the industry’s training dilemma? Let’s look again at the ways firms can optimize their training ROI and assess the degree to which Bentley’s ETS meets the test. Flexible. Bentley Institute’s ETS provides subscribers with reserved access to dozens of professional training classes covering each of its software programs. The program offers geographically dispersed in-person classes, self-paced labs, interactive online learning, instructor-led remote web classes, and even onsite training at the subscriber’s location. The ETS program also offers brief tutorials, as short as 90 seconds long, to truly ensure that training is delivered as often and as efficiently as possible. Given the reluctance of most A/E firms to tear billable workers away from client projects, the broad range of training options available in the subscription model should give forward-thinking managers and training professionals their best hope of overcoming the “tyranny of utilization.”
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Comprehensive. Bentley Institute offers a vast library of professional training materials and a seemingly endless curriculum of training classes. With just-in-time training a fact of life in the A/E industry— even among firms that plan their training program in advance— this depth of resources is a critical component of a comprehensive training program. Accessibility is at the heart of the just-in-time training movement, and the ability of ETS to offer great quantities of diverse training information, available to subscribers at a moment’s notice, is a tremendous advantage in a just-in-time training scenario. Focused. A strength of Bentley’s ETS is its absolute focus on software products for design and construction professionals. Whether the necessary professional training is specific to buildings, civil projects, industrial facilities, or geospatial vertical markets, ETS subscribers know that the training comes from a source familiar with the A/E industry and the specific submarkets it serves. Because Bentley’s training experts know the subscriber’s business, the two can work together to develop a customized, focused training program within the framework of the ETS. The growth of e-learning in the A/E industry can only increase the value that subscription-based training programs offer their customers. A/E firms need to make up some ground in training investment compared with the rest of the business world, but the trend line is moving in the right direction.

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A well-conceived, wellA survey by Learning Circuits, an e-zine from the executed training program is ASTD, found that nearly one-third (32%) of respon- a valuable, desirable dents have been using e-learning for five or more component of business years. Only 20% have been using it for less than a strategy among successful year. In contrast, ZweigWhite’s 2004 Information A/E firms. Technology Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms found that less than one-quarter (21%) of firms say they have e-learning capabilities. However, that’s a 50% increase over the previous percentage (14%) reported in the 2003 edition of the Information Technology Survey. Bentley Institute ETS users also gain the benefit of consulting services. Through this vehicle, Bentley and its subscribers work together to assess pressing training needs within the firm, develop an aggressive and comprehensive plan to address those professional training needs, and monitor firm-wide progress. With return on investment measurements so crucial to the decision-making process for training budgeting and expenditures, this feature provides training advocates with much-needed substantiation for the value training brings to an A/E firm. The Bentley Institute offers online credentials designed to help individuals compile and communicate career development efforts and to help managers monitor and leverage the results of their organization’s professional training investment. Through Bentley Institute’s web site, individuals can view credentials that reflect their professional training history, and managers can assess professional development across the organization. Individuals who complete Bentley Institute professional training receive Learning Units, which are automatically added to online credentials. Bentley Institute credentials deliver indispensable tools for individuals and organizations. For individuals, credentials provide a mechanism for measuring ongoing career development and communicating their increasing value to their company and industry. For organizations, credentials offer managers tools for matching staffing talents with project tasks, and for creating organizational development and training plans. On future service proposals, credentials offer an additional avenue for communicating an organization’s talent assets.

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Confronting the Training Dilemma in the A/E Industry

Conclusion: Overcoming the Training Dilemma
A well-conceived, well-executed professional training program is a valuable, desirable component of business strategy among successful A/E firms. According to ZweigWhite’s 2004 Information Technology Survey of A/E/P & Environmental Consulting Firms, the percentage of the IT budget spent on professional training by fast-growing firms is more than twice the percentage spent by typical A/E firms. (Fast-growing firms, as defined in the survey, have an average growth in revenue and staff of 20% or more for the last three years.) Earlier, we noted that the average training investment per employee by A/E firms is $650. Firms that want to grow fast and increase revenue, however, see that figure as a floor rather than a ceiling. Managers and training professionals who want to develop a training program that contributes to their firm’s success must recognize the challenge of the industry’s culture of utilization, and overcome that challenge by providing focused, flexible, and comprehensive training options to their staff. A subscription-based, blended-learning training program, such as Bentley Institute’s ETS, can be an efficient, cost-effective way to achieve that objective because it ensures that an A/E firm’s employees are getting the professional training they need, how they need it, and when they need it.

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© Copyright 2005, ZweigWhite. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this document in any form without prior written permission of ZweigWhite is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. ZweigWhite has taken all reasonable steps to verify the accuracy of the content in this publication and shall have no liability for errors, omissions, or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. This document is the result of research performed by ZweigWhite that was underwritten by Bentley Systems and the Bentley Institute. ZweigWhite believes its findings are objective and represent the best analysis available at the time of publication.

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