Demystifying Technical Training: Partnership, Strategy, and Execution
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Praise for Demystifying Technical Training

"Demystifying Technical Training is a must-read for CLOs, managers of training, instructors, and instructional designers. All who read it will gain critical insights into how to lower the cost and improve the efficiency and effectiveness of learning."
Wm. Douglas Harward, CEO and founder of Training Industry, Inc.

"Individuals interested in and accountable for deriving significant value from technical training investments will gain great benefit from reading this book and applying its wisdom."
Karen Kocher, CLO at Cigna Healthcare

"Demystifying Technical Training is an essential, complete guide for any learning organization. The overviews and concepts are clearly stated, while the case studies and sidebars provide practical examples you can apply in your situation."
Jean Barbazette, president of The Training Clinic and author of Managing the Training Function for Bottom-Line Results

"Considering the cost of acquiring and developing talent, why wouldn't all CEO/COOs insist on investing in people to improve results and reduce risk? This book demystifies the process of developing technical experts to increase the return on investment in human capital. Bravo!"
Martin J. Menard, former group CIO at Intel Corporation

"Technical training is a key to sustaining competitiveness in the new economy. Learn how to leverage and optimize its value in your organization through this wonderfully insightful and practical resource."
Dr. Arthur L. Jue, director of global organization and talent development at Oracle and co-author of Social Media at Work: How Networking Tools Propel Organizational Performance

"Don't be misled by the title—this book—while focusing on the often segmented world of domain specific job skills—provides guidance valid for the full spectrum of workforce learning from soft-skills to 'technical' skills."
Ruth Clark, principal and president of Clark Training & Consulting and author of e-Learning and the Science of Instruction


Wendy L. Combs, Ph.D., PMP, is a senior practitioner with an exceptional track record of building and developing global training teams to meet business goals and produce outstanding results. She previously worked in a technical training capacity at Intel Corporation, Cisco Systems, and Nortel Networks and is currently the vice president of Leadersphere. Combs is the coauthor of Instructional Design for Technical Training and The Targeted Evaluation Process.

Bettina M. Davis, MBA, is an accomplished executive with domestic and international experience directing and overseeing comprehensive human resources, training, and organization development functions and programs across large corporate environments. Before taking on the role as director of talent acquisition and talent management at Tektronix Corporation, she led employee training, including technical training, for Intel IT worldwide.






Chapter 1: What Is Technical Training?

The Complete Training Suite for Technical Experts.

Technical Training Defined.

Technical Functional Training.

Personal Effectiveness Training.

Business Training.

Analogous Content Types.

Technical Training and Related Activities.

Product Development.

Customer Training.

Technology and Computer-Based Training.

Human Resource Generalist Work.

Summary: The Power of a Common Language.

Chapter 2: Challenges and Opportunities for Technical Training.

Environmental Factors.

Lack of a Common Understanding.

Evolution of Technical Training.

Perception Versus Reality of Technical Training.

The Need for a Strong Lobby.

The Impact of a Declining Economy.

Organizational Considerations.

Ownership of Technology and Enabling Activities.

Legitimacy of Technical Training.

Involvement in Technology Implementations.

The Role in Continuous Improvement Initiatives.

Capability Aspects.

The Tension Between Two Core Competencies.

Integration of Technical Training into Talent Management.

Availability of Career Paths for Technical Employees.

Skills Mastery Over the Course of a Career.

Summary: The Value Proposition for Technical Training.

Chapter 3: Differentiators of Technical Training.

What Are Differentiators?




Planning Horizon.

Formal and Informal Learning.



Availability of Content.

Granularity of Content and Audience Size.



Subject-Matter Expert (SME) Involvement.


Evolutionary Versus Revolutionary.

Refresh Cycles.

Standardization and Certification.


Learning and Unlearning.

Release Timing.

Volunteer Instructors (VIs).

Waterfall Deployment.




Consequence of Errors.


Overarching Differentiators.




Summary: The Potential of Differentiators.

Chapter 4: Stakeholders of Technical Training.

Technical Training Stakeholder Needs.

Executives Expect Tangible Outcomes.

Managers Want Skill Gaps Addressed.

Technical Leaders Need Support for Technology.

Technical Experts Want Accurate Content.

VIs Need Recognition.

Employees Want Training Options.

Collaboration and Governance Structures.

Sponsors Champion Technical Training.

Advisory Teams Develop Content.

Training Organizations Collaborate.

Human Resources Partners with Training.

Steering Committees Align and Govern Training.

Stakeholder Support and Buy-In.

Identification and Classifi cation of Stakeholders.

A Team Approach to Stakeholder Engagement.

Stakeholder Management Techniques.

Summary: The Requirements for Collaboration.

Chapter 5: Technical Training Strategy.

Primer on Strategy.

Definition of Strategy.

Alignment to Business Objectives.

Strategic Planning Process.

Components of Strategy.

Vision and Mission Statements..

Strategic Objectives.

Guiding Principles.

Business and Operating Models.

Portfolio of Products and Services.

Technical Training Roadmap.

Capabilities to Execute the Strategy.

Skill Capabilities.

Process Capabilities.

Technology Capabilities.

Summary: Setting the Stage for Execution.

Chapter 6: Getting the Technical Training Agenda Funded.

Considerations in Advance of Funding.

Identifying Business Reasons for Funding Technical Training.

Understanding What Executives Are Looking For.

Defi ning Accountability and Ownership.

Leveraging Policies and Processes.

Setting Up the Budget.

Complexities of Training Costs.

The Cost of Technical Training.

Technical Versus Non-Technical Training Costs.

Budgeting Pointers.

Managing the Budget.

Understanding Return on Investment.

Aligning Funding to Evaluation Outcomes.

Applying Creativity to Funding.

Summary: The Art and Discipline of Budgeting.

Chapter 7: Staffi ng the Technical Training Organization.

Structure of the Training Function.

Organizational Reporting Models.

Centralization Versus Decentralization.

Horizontal Business Functions.

Technical Training Skills.

Training Skills for Expertise.

Business Skills for Credibility.

Technical Skills for Accuracy.

Project Management Skills for Discipline.

Relationship Skills for Stakeholder Engagement.

Technical Training Recruiting.

Staffing Ratios.

Common Technical Training Jobs.

Recruiting Sources for Technical Training Professionals.

Managing the Technical Training Team.

Remote Management.

Team Development.

Summary: Hiring and Development in a Nutshell.

Chapter 8: Technical Training Analysis, Design, and Development.

Identifying Technical Training Needs.

Gathering Stakeholder Input.

Training Needs Analysis.

Categories of Training Needs.

Opportunities for Data Gathering.

Prioritizing Technical Training.

Prioritization and Decision Making.

Closed-Loop Communication.

Designing the Technical Training Portfolio.

Developing Technical Training Programs.

Building Technical Training Courses.

Categorizing Courses into Curriculums.

Summary: Stakeholders Participate Throughout the Training Life Cycle.

Chapter 9: Marketing of Technical Training.

Why Market Technical Training?

Hurdles to Marketing Technical Training.

Building Marketing Competency.

Underlying Motivation for Marketing.

Understanding the Product.

Dispelling Misconceptions.

Reading the Signs of Diminishing Value.

Marketing Principles Applied to Technical Training.

Describe the Value Proposition.

Defi ne the Target Market.

Categorize and Differentiate Products.

Brand Technical Training.

Develop a Marketing Plan.

Choose the Right Marketing Tools.

Common Sense and Marketing Technical Training.

Use Emotional Drivers.

Make Engagement Easy.

Summary: The Prospect of Marketing Technical Training.

Chapter 10: Technical Training Delivery and Evaluation.

Preparation for Training Delivery.

Piloting Training Solutions.

Establishing a VI Base.

Preparing Instructors for Training Delivery.

Modes of Technical Training Delivery.

Classroom, e-Learning, and Blended Training.

Hands-On Components and Simulations.

Social Networking and Collaborative Technology.

Vendor-Supplied Technical Training.

Mandatory and Compliance-Driven Training.

Evaluating Technical Training.

Transfer of Training to the Job.

Evaluation of Technical Training Programs.

Summary: Learning from Technical Experts.



About the Authors.