Improving Your IT Department Through Certification

by Sunny Hoi

Information technology changes so quickly, chances are good that your technical people are handling issues that didn’t exist when they were hired. That is why constant training is necessary.

However, simply introducing new IT solutions and practices is not enough to ensure that your personnel are up to date. Though they may strive to stay abreast of new knowledge, you can’t be confident they have mastered new technology just because you “went over” it with them.

The solution is certification. You can create company certification that assures you that your IT personnel understand processes, tools, and applications thoroughly.

Certification Procedures

Create your certification program by closing each learning module with a test. For example, you can train employees to use a new cloud-based tool for processing data and address the troubleshooting scenarios that may come up. Your exam could include sample issues to resolve.

Require a passing score for anyone engaged in the tasks that are presented in the module. You can allow second chances and offer remediation to ensure that your IT people are technically competent.

If you keep records of certification in employee files, you can use this information when conducting performance reviews. You can also use those reviews to set goals for new certifications for employees.

Training Improvements

Certification not only helps you support qualified, up-to-date employees, it also can improve your IT training. Training for certification requires a focus on specific tasks and skills, rather than high-level or theoretical coverage of a topic. For example, you can include procedures, workflow, specifications, and expected outputs based on inputs.

In addition, you can identify test questions that most learners miss. This can be a signal to strengthen your training in the areas that are least understood.

Metrics that Measure Certification Effectiveness

With certification in place, you can measure performance to see if the IT department has reduced errors, improved response times to outages, eliminated delays in rolling out software, upgrades and processes, and received fewer complaints in departments that rely on IT services. These metrics can be tied to your credentialing process by making sure your tests cover the associated issues.

Measure the effectiveness of your training by comparing performance of your staff before and after certification. Ultimately, you should also see an increase in overall company productivity as the result of smoother functioning of your information technology.

You may also see improved morale in your IT department as employees realize they are improving as a team and demonstrating their progress with their certifications. If you introduce your initiative as a way to help employees improve themselves, rather than as an intimidating evaluation of their fitness for the job, you are more likely to get buy-in from your staff. This can create an atmosphere of support and enthusiasm. You may consider an awards ceremony for top test performers, or a team celebration when everyone passes.

Measure morale through employee surveys.

Updating Training for Recertification

Recertification each year can give you the opportunity to update your training to make sure it covers current versions of software and new practices.  When you annually reassess the content of your learning modules, this demonstrates a commitment to continued excellence and lifelong learning for your IT team.

Certification formalizes your training, so that employees no longer see training as “time off.” It is a serious effort that can greatly improve your company.

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