Training and certification today equals competency dividends for years.


Pre-Y2K, I was working as a business systems analyst on my first ERP implementation. I needed to import configuration data, and a finance SME showed me this thing called a pivot table. I was pretty convinced that I knew Excel well, but I’d never heard of this out-of-the-box feature, which taught me a substantial lesson: Training and certification today equals competency dividends for years.

In minutes, she showed me how to create a unique list of values to import configuration settings. I couldn’t believe I’d wasted time doing it manually. I felt like I’d been given a superpower.

Unfortunately, my cape failed a couple of weeks later when trying to create a new pivot table. I stumbled with the steps and realized I needed her help again. It was easy to ask for help. I did it often, never considering the impact that my interruptions had on her work.

Eventually, I became self-sufficient, reducing the time it took to build the pivot table and reducing the time others spent helping me. My competency paid dividends for me, my project peers, and my employer.

How much time have you saved by becoming competent in a software feature or capability?

My competency with Excel has saved me more than 10,000 hours in my career. That’s one amazing competency annuity! While my story is two decades old, my journey is similar to modern learners:

  • I thought I knew the software, but I actually knew only a fraction of the base features.
  • As a result, I worked harder rather than smarter.
  • Once I knew about the feature, I needed to learn how—and when—to use it.
  • This required repetition and real-world application.
  • Until I became self-sufficient, I asked others for help, reducing their productivity.

How much time does training and certification save Guidewire customer teams?

The benefits of training and certification are measurable and profound. Here are three examples showing how customer approaches to training and certification significantly affected productivity.

Decision Impact Results
Self-study vs. instructor-led Customer opted for self-study instead of the instructor-led approach they’d used successfully in earlier implementations. The team struggled to make time for training and didn’t have any support if they got stuck on the lab exercises. Without the focus, attention, instant Q&A, and lab support from an instructor, the team struggled. Their sprint velocity dipped by as much as 60%, which eventually delayed the go-live date by 6 months.
Book knowledge vs. applied knowledge Customer project team had a mix of those with book knowledge (Specialist certification) and applied knowledge (Professional certification). The Professional-certified team members had deeper competency, so they were more efficient. They maximized the base product functionality and built higher-quality solutions with fewer defects. They also spent less time revising requirements and retesting code. The heightened competency and self-sufficiency of the Professional-certified team members helped the project team save 5,000 hours during the implementation.
Delayed training and certification The core project team delayed the start of their training and certification until Sprint 3. They struggled to gain momentum in the first few sprints but saw significant improvements after they prioritized training and certification. Velocity increased 100% when the team was trained and Associate-certified. SME workload decreased by 13%. This improved the team’s productivity by 8,000 hours over the course of the project.

Angela Sammon is Vice President, Education Services Delivery at Guidewire.