The Value of Oil and Gas Planning Software Training
Author: Wayne Keinck, VP Business Development
After reading this blog from VP of Business Development, Wayne Keinick, on the Value of Training, check out the opportunities Aucerna offers for Integrated Planning and Reserves Management Training for Oil and Gas Companies.
When one considers the investment that goes into large capital projects and the investment made to properly analyze them, the cost of training is trivial. And while the benefits to having properly trained staff far outweigh this cost, training is often dismissed as an unnecessary or burdensome.
Large business investment decisions involve many cost components. The most obvious part is the product or service that the business is considering. For many reasons, it dominates the decision discussion. Something that is less obvious is the importance of periphery investments such as training. Investing in proper training on how to best use products and services is what ultimately drives the success of a new initiative. Proper training adds value through increasing the return on your investment and increasing the engagement of employees.
The first noticeable benefit of training is the additional Return on Investment that it provides over and above the primary purchase. If the primary purchase is software then the end goal is the business problem or workflow that the software addresses. But this new piece of software is only part of the solution. Your people need to know how to use it before any improvement will be observed. More than that they need to use it well. The software alone does not guarantee high-performance results.
Intuitively this makes sense if you consider other purchases. I would consider myself an advanced skier and snowboarder even though my name will not show up on any World Cup rankings anytime soon. Now even if I were equipped with the best skis or board that the industry can offer I still will likely not be cracking the podium anytime soon. And for those of you who do not ski or snowboard if I were to give you the aforementioned top-of-the-line gear and release you down a double-black run the results would likely be disastrous.
Highly technical software is similar to sports equipment in this sense. Users may have the academic/experience to understand or “get by” in a software application on their own. But they will likely not master it or become proficient without formal training. In fact, one might question the value of a software purchase altogether without the accompanying investment in training. Without training in how to use the tools, the initial business problem will still be a problem.
In order to illustrate the value of investment in training consider a single employee earning $80k/year. If that employee is wasting even 1 hour/day due to insufficient skills that is $10k/year in lost value. Most technical training courses today can easily be funded for less than $10k/employee. Using a notional investment of $2k for a training course, the savings to investment ratio for the single employee is 5:1. Often if several employees are enrolled there will be a reduced cost and the ratio gets larger. This simple example only considers the added value based on the employee’s salary. The added value to the company provided by the newly trained employee will further this gain.
The second major benefit to training is the enrichment of employees. When a company invests in assets such as software or tools they provide their employees with the equipment to get the job done. When the company invests in training they are investing in their employees.
Employees recognize and appreciate the value of this investment. It should come as no surprise that employees place value on their personal growth within an organization. This growth may come in titles, responsibility, or compensation. But it also comes in knowledge and skill sets. Employees that are provided with training that improves their skill set and consequently their self-value to the organization are more engaged and productive. Proof of this often comes at the beginning when interviewing a candidate for a position. Candidates will often ask about the companies training and education programs for employees.
Investing in training is a direct investment in the skill sets of employees that is amplified through the employees work. The result of training can be seen in employees who are more engaged, productive, and motivated.
When the decision to invest in training is made it is then worth considering the merits of formal training vs informal training. When pursuing the informal route, many people are willing to slap their credit card down, sign the purchase agreement, and then just “figure it out”. In fact, most of us at some point in our lives have gambled with a new sport, or instrument, or activity and decided to wing it rather than (if ever) investing in formal instruction. In these instances, the value of the risk was hopefully small and/ or limited to oneself. But as our investment becomes larger and the consequence of misuse grows (flying lessons come to mind) we ought to consider the additional investment of training.
It is easy to point out the consequences of mishandling a major business decision due to user error. Underestimating capital budgets, over-promising quarterly results, deviating on production targets, are all examples of software generated results that could be incorrect if users are not properly trained. Why would any company risk this?
Formal training, when conducted by a certified expert, helps to mitigate unwanted consequences and can provide much more added value. Using the context of software training it can:
- Expose functionality and workflow to the user that may go unnoticed otherwise
- Point out pitfalls that can save user error and time
- Expedite learning time
- Connect user with other like-minded individuals (when the course is in a public setting)
- Instill an excellent knowledge foundation from which further learning can grow
One last item (worth more than a single bullet-point) is that a certified expert is able to teach best practices. With most technical applications there are several ways to “get the job done”. These different approaches (even within the same application) often carry various trade-offs and benefits. An experienced trainer can convey these concepts to the user in order to get the most out of the application.
When choosing to invest in formal training in place of various DIY approaches the above list and others are easily recognized.
The increased ROI on a software purchase and a more engaged and productive workforce are significant reasons to invest in training for employees. Those benefits are further enhanced a when a proper formal training program is chosen as the method of delivery.