Study Reveals Positive Impact of Training in Mitigating IT Risks

Research finds that training is a key factor in improving IT organizational performance.

by / June 20, 2007

The findings of a new study by IDC and Symantec reveal a strong correlation between team skill, improvement in key performance indicators and allocation of resources within an IT organization. The study concluded that skilled IT teams spend more time on high-value activities that help organizations better manage IT risk, which Symantec identifies as including security, availability, performance and compliance, thus resulting in time and cost savings in gained productivity.

"Many IT organizations deploy technology without knowing how to effectively use it, and as a result they lose significant time and money in the misuse of the technology or by not optimizing its functionality," said Cushing Anderson, program director, IDC Learning Services. "Through proper education and training, IT organizations can significantly improve their knowledge and skill base, and are therefore more prepared to manage and mitigate IT risks, which helps in the success of the overall business."

According to the research, which included a survey of more than 200 North American functional IT teams consisting of two to three staff members, well-trained IT teams are better able to leverage the key technology features and functions, resulting in an increase of performance and productivity. The findings showed that well-trained IT staff spent more time on high-value activities, such as maintaining and improving operations, and less time on low-value activities, such as deploying solutions or fixing technology and broken process, than a staff with less training and lower skills.

Specifically, high-performing teams spent, on average, 78.9 hours on maintaining and improving operations per month, versus low-performing IT organizations that only spent, on average, 62.8 hours on these high-value activities. In addition, high-performing IT organizations spent, on average, 49.2 hours deploying solutions and 62.9 hours resolving broken tools or processes per month, while low-performing IT organizations spent more time on these low-value activities. On average, the low-performing teams spent 54.7 hours deploying solutions and 73.5 hours resolving broken tools and processes per month. Since the well-trained teams spent less time on low-value activities, they were able to use their time more effectively by maintaining and improving their technology and solutions. This reallocation of resources for a two- to three-person IT team can result in a 10 percent increase in productivity, which translates into a savings of up to 2,000 hours or $70,000 in gained productivity per year.

In addition to improving skill and performance, training can have a positive impact on reducing compliance and other IT risks. The study reviewed key industry operational and process performance metrics over five functional IT areas including backup and recovery, endpoint security, high availability, archiving and retrieval, and client management. The study revealed that well-trained IT teams successfully completed backup requests without failure almost 60 percent more often than those teams with less training. In the high availability function, well-trained IT staff met software configuration standards for their production servers more than twice as often as less-trained teams.

The study also analyzed the most trusted sources of knowledge and technical training, including online information and reference libraries, technical books, traditional classroom training and Web-based training. IT teams cited on the job training, supplemented with online information and reference libraries, as the most trusted and useful source of technical knowledge, indicating a preference for cost-effective, flexible and convenient training materials and learning methods.