Training vouchers hold the key to better use of IT products, better return on investment and a reduction in IT support requests – so why aren’t they being used?

When chatting to an associate at Microsoft recently, I was astounded to learn that within Microsoft alone, millions of pounds of Software Assurance training vouchers go unclaimed each year. Yes, millions of pounds worth. In fact, I was so astounded that I thought I’d check with peers at VMWare and Cisco too, to see if they had the same issue – and yes – it appears that there’s a black hole out there, absorbing training vouchers randomly from within our galaxy.

OK, so maybe that’s a little dramatic, but the fact remains that vendors provide this training allowance for a reason. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that an end user will not get maximum benefit from a new product unless they know how best to use it. Meaning that the organisation, in turn, doesn’t get best value from its technology investment. A lose lose situation.

So in my quest to find out what really happens to these vouchers, I’ve been asking around the IT community as to the whereabouts of these allusive credit vouchers. It would appear that some get lost in that black hole more commonly referred to as ‘the procurement department’. They simply expire without the end user, HR or even the IT department, for that matter, ever knowing that they existed.

Others, are simply undervalued and underused. Nobody communicates the true benefits of them and so they are left rattling around the largest black hole of all –at the bottom of an enormous, anonymous Inbox within the IT or Procurement department.

Once these vouchers end up in the black hole, it seems it is very difficult – but not entirely impossible – for them to reappear. They are time limited, usually for a year, and due to data protection laws, resellers and training partners are unable to trace vouchers back to customers to encourage them to cash them in.

So, this puts the emphasis firmly at the door of the IT department, with a little help perhaps from their IT partner, to keep accurate records and adopt systems and policies that ensure that they are releasing the value of the training that’s owed to them. Although these vouchers are marketed as ‘free’ for customers, the reality is that the cost of them has already been paid for and is built into the cost of the product.

My message, loud and clear is quite simply don’t miss out on this opportunity to train your end users and cut down on support calls. Training is a valuable asset and this asset costs businesses nothing more than the deal already done. It makes staff more productive, departments more effective and businesses more profitable. Communicating the value of these vouchers should be an integral part of your IT strategy. If you’re not sure how do this ask a training partner to help tailor a programme for your business. It’s a business asset you’ve paid for – so make sure you use it.