How to Gain Funding for Training Opportunities

The best business analysts consistently update and upgrade their skills, to add even more value to their organization and achieve better business outcomes.

As an online provider of training to business analysts, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is how to gain funding for training. While many of our participants invest in their own training, we have many receive funding from their employers.

In today’s video, I share some strategies to gain funding for training.

 

For those who like to read instead of watch, here’s the full text of the video:

The best business analysts consistently update and upgrade their skills, to add even more value to their organization and achieve better business outcomes.

I’m Laura Brandenburg of Bridging the Gap. As an provider of online training to business analysts, one of the most frequently asked questions we receive is how to gain funding for training. While many of our participants invest in their own training, on their own behalf, we have many who receive funding from their employers and even some entire business analyst teams go through our training programs together.Funding for Training

Today I want to share with you what we’ve seen work, and some of the keys to getting internal approval for training.

Step 1: Be Confident in Your Value

First, be confident in your own value as a business analyst. Understand the value you add, and also where there are opportunities for you to expand your skill set to deliver even more value.

You have to start here – with an internal sense of confidence, and an ability to create positive success for your organization. Employers will invest in those who are already creating success, because they know you will leverage that training investment to generate even more value.

On this topic – get clear on how business analysis enables more project success in your organization. Or, if it’s lacking, be clear on what value you could be adding. What problems pop up on projects now? And how could business analysis solve them? What problems does your manager care about?

For example, many projects face challenges with changing requirements late in the development cycle, and that causes project teams to run over budget and miss deadlines. Good business analysis and solid requirements practices enable clearer communication between stakeholders, and that minimizes unnecessary requirements changes late in the project.

So be clear on that value and how you communicate that value to your employer. Something we do again and again on an ongoing basis as business analysts.

Step 2: Gather Information about Your Organizations Funding Process

Second, gather information about your organization’s process for funding training. Sometimes it can be as simple as completing a form to make a request. Every year thousands of corporate training dollars go unused because no one asks to use them. You literally don’t know what’s available until you ask. And you don’t know what the process is until you ask. So ask and get really clear on that process.

Step 3: Understand Your Manager’s Goals

Now, provided there is money, understand your manager’s goals for that money. Is it ear-marked for specific projects and programs at the end of the year? Is there a specific outcome they want to see? Is there a timeline for that?

Often as we reach year-end, managers are motivated to use the rest of this year’s budgets so they don’t lose that money for the following year. Be aware of those budgets, what they are earmarked for, and also what excess budget you might be able to get access to later in the year if it doesn’t get used earlier in the year.

Always be prepared to make a second request later in the year, even if it was denied earlier.

Step 4: Evaluate the Training Program

Next, evaluate the program you are considering. How does it meet your manager’s goals? How will it help you personally deliver more value to your organization? Does it fit within the budget you have? Build a business case for the value you and the organization will receive from that training investment.

Super important – it’s something we do as business analysts on our projects, so we also need to do it for training. Make this a no-brainer decision for your manager. They should see an immediate ROI.

For example, participants in The Business Analyst Blueprint actually do their project work throughout the 4-month program, and so they are adding value right away as they go through the course by improving a business process, clarifying software requirements, and communicating more clearly about the business domain – all modules of The Blueprint that you learn about and are able to take immediately with you to your organization.

Step 5: Have a Conversation with Your Manager

Have a conversation with your manager about the training you are considering, and how you see it helping you personally, as well as adding value to the organization. Be sure to touch on any specific pain points your manager has expressed to you, or goals they have.

Make this a win for them. Make it that no-brainer decision. And, of course, have any details ready-at-hand to discuss the training in detail in case they have questions.

If budget is a concern, you may consider providing a couple of different options at different price points. For example, we offer individual modules of The Business Analyst Blueprint separately. And then the full, intensive program packages multiple courses together with live instruction at a discount over investing in each course individually.

So that’s part of how you make the business case too; there’s a discount for investing in this larger program and for getting additional support.

Step 6: Submit Your Formal Request

With an understanding of your organization’s process and your manager’s goals, you’ll want to submit your formal request. Follow your organization’s processes. This could be an email, or there could be a form to fill out.

In a larger organization you might have an actual website that you go to request training, or checkboxes for various approvals. So you also want to factor in any time that you need to request and receive information from your training provider, and make sure you have time to do that. At Bridging the Gap, we can provide details and documentation that does tend to help facilitate that approval process.

Step 7: Follow-Up

Once you submit your formal request, you’re not done. You want to make sure you follow-up until you receive that formal approval and know that your registration has gone through. Most training providers require payment in advance of the course start date, and so you will want to stay on top of your request so you don’t miss out on your opportunity.

If you are working with us for a live training class like The Business Analyst Blueprint, stay in touch about the steps you are going through and when you expect approval and funding to actually come through.

Often we can work with you and your unique situation because we really love to see people be able to join us for a live program. And because there is a start date, that’s a reason to be starting up front – earlier rather than later. You might give yourself a month or even two months ahead of a course start date to start the funding process in your organization.

If No Funding for Training…

What if there are no funds for training? You’ll want to get specific details on when funding is made available, how those budgets are prepared, and what you can do to get your share of the funding in future fiscal years. So now you’re thinking of planning in advance for say 6 or 12 months from now so you can have these investments later in your career lifecycle.

Also, realize there is always money somewhere. There may be portions of other budgets that can be reallocated to training. Perhaps your manager has funding ear-marked to bring in a consultant for a specific project. Would they be able to save those costs by you having this training? So think about where there might be money in other areas that you can tap into.

If your manager says no or not now, ask for more information and a reason why. Do they want you to find a different opportunity? Is there a doubt they have? Is there a specific time you should come back and ask again?

Consider Investing in Yourself

And if you feel adamant that this training will help your career growth, it may be the time to make the investment in yourself. Consider the long-term impact on your personal growth and salary potential. Don’t use your employer’s unwillingness to invest in you right now as a reason or an excuse to stay stagnant in your career.

This complacency can have a disastrous impact on your career. Should there be an unexpected change in your company and you find yourself out in the job market without the skills you need to be successful, it can be a long road to get back on track.

Be Ready for Common Objections

Now let’s look at some of the common objections managers have to investing in training. We’re doing this not to energize them, but so that you can be prepared to speak to them. What might your manager say that causes a “no” that you can turn into a “yes”?

Often you’ll hear, “But it’s a busy time for projects.” This is where it’s up to you to make a commitment to keep up with your project work. Our programs are flexible at Bridging the Gap, and actually will help you do even better on the projects you are working on anyway.

This also saves you money, or your organization money over an in-person class, as there are no additional travel costs to consider. Those are things you can speak to and talk about with your manager if you are considering online programs, especially those like ours at Bridging the Gap.

Or perhaps you hear that they are saving money for specific tool training, or a specific technical skill. This means they are not seeing the value of business analysis, and the core skills you’d learn when it comes to elicitation or requirements gathering or business process improvement.

Articulate how you’d use one of the techniques on the projects you are assigned now. For example, for a typical implementation of a cloud computing system, you would have new creative ways to analyze and improve the business process, so the tool works as expected for the stakeholders.

So instead of learning details of that tool, you’re actually learning how to help make sure that tool actually improves the process.

And in something like The Blueprint, you’d even learn the data modeling and mapping techniques, which helps ensure the business data transfers smoothly from one system to another. So again, core skills that would help with the implementation of a tool like that.

Another thing you might hear is, “You are already doing great work. We don’t need you to learn anything new.” This means they are not seeing the potential for you to do even more work or higher level work, and the value this would have for the organization.

Revisit the questions around pain points and opportunities, and consider how you can better frame the training you want to support those. And how you can start adding value now, so they see you adding more value now as a head start into getting that approval for training.

Many times, objections like these are great conversations to have. They give you great insight not just into the funding available but how you can develop your career in the organization. Go in with an open mind, be willing to learn, use your business analysis skills to LISTEN! That’s one of the key skills we have as business analysts.

What Strategies Have You Used to Receive Funding For Training?

What strategies have you found help you receive corporate training or funding for training? Leave a comment below to help out others in the community. We build our profession one business analyst at a time. Success starts with you.

Again, I’m Laura Brandenburg from Bridging the Gap. We provide best-in-class online training for business analysts. We’d love to see you in a future program. And if there is anything we can do to help you receive funding for one of our training programs, please be in touch.

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Comments

  1. If I could offer a few tips to other BA’s asking for approval:
    1. Provide a summary of what you expect to gain from the course.
    2, Detail how that applies to your role as a BA. To me, these are a good exercise to talk through before moving to approval. It takes the leg work out of the process for the manager and provides proof of concept.
    3. Finally, and this aligns with the concept of “being confident”, set a hard deadline for a response. Explain that availability is limited and this course fills up fast. Managers, HR directors, Accountants are all busy people. There’s no harm in setting an expectation for something that is important.

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