Adoption & Effective Use

A Reader’s Question: How Much Do I Spend on Training?

A customer who recently purchased a copy of User Adoption Strategies (2012) wrote earlier today asking about training budgets for SharePoint projects:

I wonder if you have ever seen statistics that refer to the percentage of overall (licensing + services) expense that should be dedicated to staff training. So, if an organization spends $50K on SharePoint licenses and $100K on implementation services, should they expect to spend, say, 10%, 15%, 20% of that total on training (in addition). I realize that training does occur within the implementation as well, but I am thinking of an organization I spoke with today that will have 1,000+ potential SharePoint users and none of them are part of the implementation work.

I can’t seem to find any reference able information. Do you happen to know of anything? Even if it is not SharePoint specific and maybe addresses large scale applications in general?

I don’t have a simple answer / rule of thumb, but here’s how I think about the question:

1. The number I recall from my university studies was 20% on hardware and software and 80% on everything else (implementation, training, work change, etc.). For the client above, this would argue for something in the order of $100K to be spent specifically on training.

2. Allocating between 10% ($15K) and 20% ($30K) for the project above only allows $15 to $30 per user for training and adoption resources. This seems far too little to me, and would signal / emphasize that the client is thinking about a technology project not a business or process improvement one.

3. You need to understand what the potential value that using the technology well could confer on the organization, and thus what magnitude of resources should be invested in building capability among staff. If SharePoint is being used to improve processes and introduce efficiencies of 20% per year, then one way of calculating your training budget would be to spend a portion of the first years gain on training and adoption. For 1000 people earning an average of $X per year (let’s say $50,000 for arguments sake), a 20% improvement in process efficiency across the entire employee base would be $10 million. Spend half of that on training / adoption and you have an ROI of 6 months. If SharePoint is used for less wonderful purposes – the new file share anyone? – then it’s a bit harder to make a case for investing much in training / adoption.

4. I was reading a case study recently about the introduction of a new IT system. The organization spent £30 million on hardware and software, and £40 million on implementation / training / adoption.

5. To think about this as a business initiative and not a technology one, you would have to reverse your thinking. First, how is work done today? Second, in light of new technology opportunities, how could work be re-imagined? Third, if those opportunities for improving work were fully embraced by the organization, what would that look like (in terms of benefits)? Fourth, what would the organization need to do to achieve that? There would be a consulting portion, a technology portion, and a change / adoption / training portion.

6. What’s your experience with this? What happens at your organization? How well does that work?

2 replies »

  1. Thank you so much! I assume it is acceptable to quote you? I’d like to use some of your thoughts in a white paper I am creating and will certainly give you credit for them (with a reference to your book), if that’s OK.

    How about: “Michael Sampson, author User Adoption Strategies (2nd Edition): Shifting Second Wave People to New Collaboration Technology”

    • Thanks Jason – yes, of course you can quote me. That attribution is fine. I hope some other people will chime in with their thoughts too, thereby giving you a wider set of perspectives.