If you’re in charge of training for your organization, you likely manage programs and courses for many different teams, including your information technology (IT) department. Every individual throughout the company has his or her own learning preferences and needs, and with IT in particular, there may be intricacies to their job responsibilities and career development goals that are outside of your standard scope. That’s why collaboration and communication are key.

Being able to work well with your IT department will not only help keep your training platform running, but it will also ensure that the IT department is staffed with highly skilled experts who can keep your business successful now and into the future. Here are five ways to collaborate with your IT department to set it and the rest of your organization up for success:

1. Understand Business Needs and Desired Outcomes

Work with IT leaders to understand their departmental needs and the desired outcomes of training. No one knows IT’s needs better than the IT leaders and their team members do, so use them as a resource. And instead of waiting for the IT leaders to come to you with a training request, go to them. Being proactive in this process will help keep you from being seen as the proverbial “order-taker” and help ensure that your organization stay ahead of the IT skills gap. Ask them what their goals are, and then use your expertise to create an IT training strategy that will help them meet those goals.

After understanding the IT department’s goals, work with leaders to conduct a needs analysis. What skills do they already have in house? What skills are they planning on hiring for? And what skills can they train their current team on? The answer to that last question is especially important to keep in mind. Consider the IT department’s goals, the business’ goals and in-demand IT skills more broadly.

2. Introduce Peer Learning

Your IT team is comprised of many experts. Leverage that expertise rather than starting from scratch when it comes to creating content and delivering instruction. Peer learning is an effective form of learning for all areas of the organization but perhaps especially so in technology, where many professionals are prone to learning on their own and can share knowledge with their colleagues.

There are a variety of easy-to-implement peer learning methods you can try. Create an “online marketplace” of team skills, or schedule lunch-and-learns for team members to share their expertise with interested colleagues. You might even find that some IT staff members are willing to be trained as instructors for occasional workshops or training sessions. Sometimes, subject matter experts (SMEs) can be the best teachers.

3. Offer Access to On-demand Learning

IT professionals tend to stay pretty busy these days, but fortunately, they are always at a computer, which makes online, on-demand training and easily accessible resources convenient. Many training providers offer annual subscriptions to course libraries full of relevant content on high-impact, in-demand IT skills. Learners can use them to find answers to questions, learn new skills and/or brush up on their existing knowledge.

By using a mix of external and internal sources to curate a set of courses in house, you can even create learning journeys that IT professionals can access whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them. These “continuous learning opportunities” can include a variety of formats to help learners develop new skills effectively and efficiently — and then use them on the job.

4. Measure and Report on Impact

In order to gain or maintain buy-in from IT leaders (and other stakeholders), it’s important to be able to identify the impact your training programs have on their teams, their departmental goals and the overall business. Having identified the IT team’s business goals and conducted a needs analysis at the beginning of this process helps in reporting results. Those goals and the skills you and the IT leader identified as necessary are outcomes to measure against.

For example, let’s say your training program is aimed at upskilling members of the team in the fundamentals of a new cloud platform your company is using. A goal might have been for every member of the team to be able to use the platform proficiently and feel confident doing so. In that case, you might use productivity metrics, manager feedback, assessment scores, and self-reports of competence and confidence to measure whether or not the training accomplished this goal.

5. Develop Your Consulting Skills

Finally, these best practices are complementary to being an effective internal consultant. You can enhance and hone your consulting abilities by developing your soft skills — communication, listening, collaboration, problem-solving, adaptability, time management and leadership. These skills are becoming increasingly important in an automated world and are especially so when it comes to collaborating with colleagues in other departments to create and implement training programs.

As a training manager, you may not interact with your company’s customers directly, but you do have “clients” of your own — your colleagues. While these clients want to see effective training programs and an impact on their bottom line, they also want to enjoy working with you. By being a good consultant (listener, communicator, problem-solver, etc.), you can build a collaborative relationship that reaps rewards for both parties.

Effective IT training will only become more important to business goals as technology becomes more complex and more intertwined with your organization’s strategic plan. By being a collaborative partner with your IT team, you can ensure that its members — and your company — are ready for whatever the next technological innovation brings.

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