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Writing Proposals for Training

I had a student recently who said that to get any type of training she had to write a proposal and get it approved first. I think that’s interesting, because it’s useful to make an employee learn to build a business case for an expense, especially one that has an uncertain ROI. I worry that it favors the employee who is better at writing, and that once someone gets something approved the request becomes boiler plate for all future requests. Still, I’m assuming that the manager will see through that and not just make it a paper exercise, and ask the person needing some training to figure out what is needed, justify it, and present some options.

As far writing the request, here are some things you might think about:

  • Have you looked at books vs free online vs paid online vs class options, and why did you pick the one you did?
  • What is the cost of the training? Cost for travel – make sure you include all the incidental costs like wifi at the hotel.
  • When are you scheduling it and why?
  • What is the cancellation policy?
  • Are there discounts for sending multiple students?
  • How do you see yourself applying what you learned when you return to the office?

I think this becomes even more interesting if the employee knows they have up to X dollars to spend, because that should encourage them to shop harder and think harder about their training. Maybe they’ll stay at the Holiday Inn instead of the Embassy Suites to make the budget work, or maybe they would rather buy training DVD’s and share the cost across with a co-worker.

Sometimes it’s easy, we have Project X that needs Skill Y, but usually it’s harder than that because it’s ‘just’ professional development. Remember that in most cases your boss will have to in turn justify the training to their boss, so the more thought you put into it, the less work your boss has to do, and – arguably – the more likely that the request will be acted on. The more that you take ownership in your career the happier your boss will be.

If anyone has tried this I’d be interested to hear the results, good or bad.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Anonymous on 15 January 2010

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