With 2014 just around the corner, your budget planning is probably in full swing. With all the line items you need to consider, it can be easy to overlook (or simply ignore) the need for sales performance management (SPM) software training. But here are a few reasons why you shouldn’t forget training or wait to work it into your budget later. In my years of experience designing and implementing training programs, “later” often comes too late and the remaining budget is too little to pay for an effective training program.

Why invest in training? To put it simply: Software alone does not create business value. You need people who can leverage the full potential of the solution, and that requires knowledge that goes beyond basic familiarity with software features. By investing in training up front, you can establish a team of onsite SPM experts, reduce the cost of post-production support, help employees increase their value to the company and maximize the ROI for your SPM solution.

How much should you budget for training?

This is most common question I get regarding sales training. While there is no single budget formula that applies to every company, you can start by first creating a solid training plan. Once you know what your plan involves, you can better determine how much to budget. Key questions for any SPM training plan should include:

1. Are you purchasing training from the software vendor?

Vendors sometimes bundle training along with the software. Bundled training usually includes basic product training for compensation administrators and possibly system administrators. While this level of training may offer a very good introduction to the software’s features and benefits, you need to ensure the vendor training package will empower the team to leverage the software’s capabilities to meet your specific business needs.

2. Will you receive ongoing vendor training after the solution goes live?

While initial training can provide a great overview of the software, your team will likely need ongoing training to maintain, modify and create new logic to meet evolving business requirements. If your vendor provides advanced training, you will need to know if the program can be tailored to your organization, and, of course, the cost. If your vendor doesn’t provide advanced training, you may need to find a third party that can provide a customized training program.

3. Does your training program include a sustainable change management plan?

In addition to training your existing comp administrators, your training materials should enable future staff to get up to speed quickly. As you review the training curriculum from your software vendor or third party, consider if your existing staff will be able to repurpose the materials to train new hires on the software.

4. Have you considered a role-based training plan?

Role-based training is a highly efficient way to ensure staff does not waste time in irrelevant training sessions. With role-based training, each administrator receives a quick overview of the software’s basic features, but the bulk of the training focuses on the actual tasks he or she will do on a regular basis. As a result, you can reduce lost productivity from the “one-size-fits-all” training approach and only teach people what they need to know to do their jobs well.

5. How will you train the field sales force?

Since your sales folks are typically not involved (or even aware of) the adoption of a new SPM solution, you will need to create an effective training program that helps them get up to speed quickly, wherever they are. To start, clear communication and notification about the new solution is critical. Once you have informed the field, the best way to deliver the training is through a brief, self-paced and easy-to-follow video that can be viewed on a laptop, tablet or mobile phone. A self-paced training video also serves as a great onboarding tool for new sales employees. Sales force training will also need to be included in your overall training budget.

6. How much ownership of the implemented system do you want to have?

Determining your level of ownership in the system will also determine how much you will need to budget for training. Does your compensation team have the bandwidth and skills to completely manage the system, or will you need additional support from third-party managed services to help with administration? A comprehensive, role-based training strategy will allow for complete, or near-complete, ownership of the system.

However, depending on time and resources, your organization may opt to outsource some or all of the system administration tasks to a third party. A managed services approach can provide a highly flexible and affordable way to get the support you need for as long as you need it. You can also take a “blended” approach in which some administrative functions are kept in-house while others are outsourced. Determining which model is right for you will factor into your overall training budget.

Are you thinking about your training budget for 2014? What factors do you consider when determining how much to budget for training? Let us know in the comments below!