When Kris Persaud joined Compugen as a contract technician, management not only encouraged him to obtain CompTIA vendor-neutral certification; they deemed it a prerequisite for permanent hire. Persaud became CompTIA A+-certified and now serves as team leader of deployment services. Richard Fullerton was already certified in CompTIA A+ when he came aboard at Compugen, but the company subsequently paid for him to obtain his CompTIA Network+ and CompTIA Server+ certifications. He was later promoted to deployment team leader and national training champion.
An Investment, Not An Expenditure
Providing effective, appropriate break-fix service keeps our costs down significantly, which in turn keeps our rates down and enhances customer satisfaction.
David Jeffrey, service delivery manager, Compugen
Some IT service providers consider technician training another item on a long list of business costs. But for Compugen, whose Total Lifecycle Services division focuses primarily on the procurement, deployment, maintenance and disposal of desktop and laptop computers, servers and printers, it is an important investment that pays off handsomely. It has helped the Toronto, Ontario-based value-added reseller to become one of Canada's largest organizations of its kind, with annual revenues in excess of $450 million, and to maintain a customer base that includes several thousand medium- and large-size corporate entities as well as provincial and federal government clients.
Requiring field technicians to achieve CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ or CompTIA Server+ certification prior to hiring gives them an excellent base of skills and knowledge from which to succeed in their IT career and to contribute to the company's growth, according to David Jeffrey, service delivery manager, GTA region. Technicians can then obtain additional CompTIA certifications, as Fullerton did. Extensive vendor and product-specific training is also provided to Compugen's staff of about 250 technicians, as well as to its team leaders, supervisors and managers. Annual certification and training outlays average $6,000 per employee at the technician level and about $11,000 at the managerial level. In 2012, 160 Compugen technicians earned CompTIA A+ certification; 45 earned CompTIA Network+ certification; and 68 earned CompTIA Server+ certification.
In return for this investment, the company is experiencing consistent increases in warranty revenues, because the more knowledgeable the technician, the more efficient the servicing of warrantied product. "We can better diagnose the root cause of problems and replace only those components that need to be replaced," said Jeffrey. He added: "Providing effective, appropriate break-fix service keeps our costs down significantly, which in turn keeps our rates down and enhances customer satisfaction."
The rich skillset that comes from CompTIA and other certifications also contributes to a higher level of customer satisfaction by decreasing service time on all hardware and software, warrantied or not, and by increasing the potential of properly completed repairs the first time. According to Jeffrey, Compugen has seen a 30 percent reduction in the time needed to rectify the average IT problem over the past few years.
Increasing Employee Morale
A sizeable investment in training and certification yields benefits on the employee side, too. It demonstrates that the company values its staff and understands the importance of fostering their professional development, Jeffrey said.
The ongoing investment in skills through certification programs has a huge impact on employee satisfaction. "From that satisfaction comes confidence and a strong push to do the best job—which in turn makes customers happier," he added.
Persaud said that undergoing the training required to become CompTIA A+ certified allowed him to develop a basic, but comprehensive understanding of PCs, mobile devices, operating systems and printers. This understanding, coupled with hands-on exposure to the technology during the course of his education, has given him a firm foundation for his work. "I can look at a job and know that the skills I have will let me do things as they should be done," Persaud said of the benefits he reaps from the education provided by his employer.
Fullerton believes his CompTIA, vendor-specific and product-specific certifications — which now number more than 100 — instilled in him the assurance that he is addressing customers' IT problems appropriately. Even if the cause of the trouble is not readily apparent, he can reassure the client that the situation is under control and can harness his knowledge to remediate the difficulty. He said, "For example, if it's a network connection, I don't need to stand there looking nervous and cause the customer to become concerned. My CompTIA Network+ knowledge kicks in."
Another Compugen employee, Ramin Ostovar, has also achieved significant career growth through certification while also benefiting the company. Ostovar had risen through Compugen's ranks and was in a team leader position, but wanted to do more. Recognizing his potential, the company invested $70,000 to train him to become a high-level IT specialist. CompTIA Server+ represented a fraction of the training expenditure, but served as the foundation upon which Ostovar's training in database architecture was built. Within a week of completing advanced training, at the top of his class, Ostovar was actively performing billable services.
Compugen will continue to invest in CompTIA certifications and other programs aimed at strengthening and broadening employees' knowledge of all facets of IT. Said Jeffrey, "It's the best thing we can do for our business."