I have had the opportunity to speak with numerous companies and individuals that were in the process of deciding whether to pursue various certifications. There seems to be a common thread of everyone looking to keep training costs to a minimum. I always tell them that the school of hard knocks is one of the best teachers, but also one of the most expensive.
Companies that rely strictly on on-the- job training (OJT) often find themselves with gaps in their company knowledge base. Learning a skill set from an experienced co-worker is kind of like playing a communications game at a party. You get 10 people in a line and the first person whispers a sentence off a card “The brown dog was fuzzy and soft to pet” to the next person in line.
The second person has to remember what they were told and whisper the information to the third person and it repeats until person 10 announces what the 9th person told them “The frowning hog was dizzy and wet”. Obviously the original message was lost being repeated so many times. The same thing happens in the workplace where the company’s knowledge base becomes watered down as each employee shares their perceived way to accomplish a task. While this approach initially appears to be inexpensive, this is the most expensive method because it requires employees to learn by mistakes, which will cost the company money and delays. When a company uses an ad-hock impromptu OJT style training, there is no clear record of who, where, when or what training took place.
When a project arises, all too often companies find themselves asking half their workforce who is qualified to complete the work. If the company had a comprehensive cross training program including certifications, it simplifies knowing who is qualified to perform the work. Certification training provides baseline training that ensures everyone receives the exact same information without the concern of how many times it has been watered down. I am often asked “Do I have to take a class to take a BICSI examination to attain a certification?”. The simple answer is no, but like you always hear, you get what you pay for. Or, in this case, you get what you put into it. It is my experience that if someone simply does self-study to pass a written test, they are not getting the benefits of being able to ask questions, interact with other students or knowing the “background supporting information and whys” that make it easier to apply the material on a test or in the field, that are all part of a class experience. All too often, I get calls from individuals who try to “fast track” without attending a class. Now that they have failed their tests repeatedly, they are looking to schedule a class to help them comprehend the material and pass their test.
Making the investment in training to get certified should be weighed against your current circumstances. It does not matter if you are a small company or large corporation you are competing for market share. You need to position your company and employees to be able to meet the requirements of your current and potentially new customers. I frequently get calls requesting immediate training, because a potential contract requires certifications and the company currently does not qualify to bid on the project. Advantages of being certified as early as possible are the company can reap the benefits every day as their personnel perform more efficiently in addition to being able to qualify for bidding purposes.
Another concern I often hear is that totally unqualified companies keep low-balling the bids, win the project, do a terrible job and then a second company is called in to fix the poor installation for a now irate customer. I am asked how can we compete against these “low-ballers”? This is a simple two-fold answer.
1. Work with potential customers making sure they understand the dangers of simply looking for a lowest bid. The customer should be putting together a specification for the work that has measurable acceptance standards and requiring certifications for the designers and installers.
2. Make sure your company has the certifications to qualify your company to compete for the work.
Once the customer is aware of the pitfalls in possibly awarding a contract to a less than desirable organization, and they create a framework to attract only the most desirable companies, you are now on a level playing field to win the project.
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