Depending upon the specific IT training requirement of a company, the first essential step is to identify the audience that would be receiving the training in order to aptly address their varied responsibilities pertaining to IT security. Moving forward, a company needs to assess its available resources in order to strategize the development, implementation and maintenance of its IT security awareness and training program.
Typically, this strategy is a comprehensive plan comprising detailed discussions on the following factors:
- The existing local and national policy that requires a degree of IT training and awareness to be accomplished by the personnel of a small, mid-sized or large organization.
- The scope of the IT training that must be accomplished
- The detailed roles and responsibilities of the employees delegated with the task of designing, developing, implementing and maintaining the IT training program
- The learning objectives of the IT training
- The topics to be covered
- The goals to be achieved post the IT training program, such as education, professional development, certifications, awareness, etc.)
- Deployment of training methodologies for each IT training module
- Mandatory or optional courses for each personnel group, as applicable.
- Documentation of the training sessions, accompanied with audience feedback
- Evaluation and revision of training material.
- Frequency of trainings to be held in a periodic tenure.
Establishing priorities for IT training
Once a detailed plan or strategy with regards to the IT training program is materialized, the next step is to establish its implementation schedule. Important factor to keep in mind while freezing the schedule are constraints such as the overall budget allotted for the training and security awareness program as well as the availability of resources for the same. Therefore, it is imperative to establish the priorities for IT training in an organization in order to leverage the available time, training material and resources to the fullest.
The first factor to bear in mind is the sequence of the entire IT training program. Important decisions such as scheduling the various training modules in order of importance or the availability of resources must be taken into account. If need be, the It training program should be phased out in order to keep budget constraints at bay. Depending upon the topical need for IT security awareness, topics of the training can be lined up in order of importance. Availability of resources and IT training material are also of key importance. Depending upon how soon these are available, some key initiatives of the program can be scheduled early in the plan. However, if any course material needs to be developed or acquired externally, the schedule should be appropriately formulated so as to reserve some sessions till suitable instructors or training material and resources are acquired.
While freezing an IT training program, it is quite important to bear in mind the organizational role and risks and addressing priorities accordingly. Widely applicable modules that might impact a large section of an organization and lead to greater awareness must be kept on top priority. This will ensure that the rules of efficient IT security are delivered to the personnel quickly. But this does not mean that the high impact and high trust positions should be ignored in the beginning of the IT training program. Key profiles such as IT security managers, system administrators and security personnel whose job profiles are highly sensitive and important to any organization must also be prioritized during the IT training plan roll-out phase.
While formulating and before rolling out an IT training plan, it is critical to study the gaps between the current awareness and the desired compliance. A detailed gap analysis not only empowers the training program by including all those elements that are lacking in the current awareness of the personnel but also result in an easy and effective roll out of the plan. Apart from looking into the current state of compliance, it is also important to study critical project dependencies in an organization’s time line of deliverables. If a project is dependent on a particular module of IT training, it must be kept on high priority in order to supplement all the deficits and furnish the requisite knowledge to deliver the project successfully and within desired deadlines. This prioritizing would also help to prepare the necessary system requirements such as new operating systems, VPNs, firewalls, etc. so that all project related dependencies are addressed within a stipulated time frame.
Setting the bar for IT training
As the core of an IT training program in any organization, setting the bar refers to fixing the level of complexity that the training will involve and how will it commensurate with the specific roles of the personnel receiving the training. In other words, it sets out the criteria for the training and the eligibility of those who will undergo it.
Depending upon the target personnel’s position in the organizational structure and the desired knowledge of IT security for that position, the complexity of the training material must be determined before the roll out of the plan.
Training material can be customized and developed at an intermediate level for someone with more work experience and added responsibility in an organization. A vital part of the IT training may also comprise modules for those whose job profiles incorporate ensuring the highest level of IT security and responsibility.
Setting the bar for IT training typically applies to awareness, training and education. While setting the bar for awareness, the focus should be on the vital rules of behavior required for using the IT system. Coming directly from an organizational policy, these rules are applicable and binding on everyone in the company. The bar can be raised as more and more employees gain awareness from the IT training program.
An important point to remember is that setting the bar is of utmost importance; in most cases, it is more important than the IT training itself. When set correctly, it can not only identify individuals based on their IT security responsibilities in an organization, assess their skills and spot their IT training needs but also produce relevant and required skills and competencies with the help of a well structured IT training plan.
A well structured IT training is not only important and essential for the employees of an organization but also for the organization itself in order to facilitate its smooth progress in the rapidly evolving technological scenarios.
About the Author: This article by Frank Johnson is in continuation to his piece on ‘IT Training’. Frank is a regular editorial contributor on technology products and services that helps small to mid size businesses. To know more about IT Training strategies and implementation, you may interact with him by clicking here