The telephone call is unexpected and to the point: “I need an MS Office 2007 Trainer for six months to train 500 people for a Real Estate Organization Corporate.”
I ask for more details, there are none. “But surely your client sent you a bit more than that?”, I query the agent on the other end of the telephone.
Now either the client has much more data and is not supplying it to their agent, or the client has no data. You can’t have it both ways. (I am assuming that the agent is not lying to me!)
If the client has much more data and is not supplying it to their agent, then the client is not playing fair with their agent, and that suggests that they will continue to play unfair; neither I nor the agent can come out of this looking good.
If the client has no data, then the client is basing decisions on bad data, and decisions based on bad data are always bad decisions; neither I nor the agent can come out of this looking good.
Six-months of training involving 500 people in a new version of Microsoft Office is a major undertaking, contract or not. Here are some of the questions that a true professional would ask:
· What is the current level of expertise in each of your 500 staff members?
· What applications of Microsoft Office 2007 need to be taught?
· Which of your 500 staff need training in which applications?
· To what level should each staff member be brought?
· What channels best suit your staff? Classroom, one-on-one, web-conferencing, self-paced study?
· What acceptance tests do you have in place?
· How will you decide or know when the training has been successful for each and every one of the 500 staff members?
· What realistic corporate data and problems can be established to make the training meaningful to your 500 staff members?
· What follow-up (“booster”) training will be required?
· Do you have an established technical channel, such as a newsletter, that will allow staff members to pool their knowledge after the formal training is ended?
· What provision will you make for after-hours technical help in the delivered areas of Microsoft Office 2007?
· What Microsoft Office 2007 course material do your possess?
· What Microsoft Office 2007 course material can you provide?
· Will the instructor be required to develop specialized material for specific areas of interest?
· How much time will be set aside for the instructor to develop such material?
· How much time will be set aside for the instructor to respond to out-of-course questions?
· How do you plan to deal with questions from your 500 staff members which are not covered under the broad umbrella of “using Microsoft Office 2007”?
· Will you need a set of tests or follow-up questions prepared to asses your 500 staff members new level of knowledge?
The true professional needs to know whereabouts on the spectrum the work is sited. Will the trainer be required merely to read-from-the-book and assist students as they work through the exercises, or at the other end, will the trainer be required to analyze the needs of the 500 students and develop training materials suitable for each grade of student?
At the lower end of the spectrum, which I call “Walk in whistling, with my hands in my pockets”, I would be prepared to charge a low rate; after all, I’m not being asked to do much more than show up in a clean shirt and nudge people along.
At the higher end of the spectrum, which I call “Slave long nights developing stuff”, I would charge a high rate; after all, I’m being asked to do much more than show up in a clean shirt and nudge people along; I am being asked to draw on my 40 years of training experience to develop material ideally matched to this particular client.
The overriding question that should be asked, but never gets asked is “How did you come up with a figure of six months?”. Has a survey been done to find out how many people need a session with how many programs in the Microsoft Office Suite? If not, on what measured facts do you base your figure of six months?
I thought so!
I just checked this out with my buddy Bill who is a “mechanical drawer” and he agrees with me. He would feel the same way if someone asked him to make up drawings for air-conditioning ducts for a twelve-story building, without telling if each floor was identical in layout, the number of rooms, required temperature gradients, and so on.
Doomed from the start.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
Chris, This exposes one of the myths sincerely held by the technologically naive. The belief is that technology and related services can be purchased as a commodity, like a bag of sand or a toaster. This is expressed in your example as the belief that there is a Microsoft Office course, delivered by a single method, suitable for all students in all situations. From this point of view, the client can see their request as perfectly rational. Drew Mathers www.almost-painless.com/index.html