As we approach the new year, it’s time for a budget reset for many companies. Those companies who already have or are about to purchase Sitecore may have put money aside in their budget to train their employees on Sitecore. We get a lot of questions from our clients about what Sitecore classes to attend, who should attend, and when the best time to attend the courses is. This post will give you my thoughts regarding taking official Sitecore training classes.
First, when discussing Sitecore training, it has to be understood that Sitecore, as a software, is an incredibly vast product. This description of “vast” is for both developers working with Sitecore, and business users / marketers who work with it as well. The options that exist out of the box the day Sitecore is installed are large enough, but as I’ve mentioned in numerous other posts, it’s also a fully extensible product because of it’s built on .NET and has a fully extensible Pipelines architecture. Because of this, no one should expect any reasonable Sitecore training session to be the “end all, be all”. That is to say: no matter how good the trainer is, or the curriculum is, you’ll never come out of a single class knowing all there is to know regarding Sitecore. The good news relating to this is that Sitecore the company realizes this, and has broken down their official training classes by target audience as well as subject matter. By doing this, it allows clients (and partners alike) to take focused classes that serve the area they most need the training in.
On the topic of who should attend the training classes, my first recommendation is that all in-house developers of Sitecore clients that will be expected to implement, maintain and/or enhance the Sitecore site(s) should absolutely attend an official training class. Learning Sitecore development isn’t necessarily hard if you’re already familiar with .NET and C#, but by attending some of the official classes you can gain best practice knowledge and the “right” way to do the development. I also think that Marketers / Business Users can benefit from attending official training classes. That said, the Content Authors in the Sitecore system often benefit more by specific training on their particular website. Because each Sitecore site implementation has a unique architecture, it’s important to be familiar with your site. When Perficient is working with a client on a new Sitecore site, we always include the option for us to do this specific business users training that’s customized exactly for the Site we’ve implemented.
Now that you know who should be attending Sitecore training, what are the options out there? You can find all of the options on the Sitecore.net Official Sitecore Traning page. My recommendations for developers are to start with the QuickStart Series. If that’s a little too long or too much, then I would probably recommend that the Sitecore CMS Website .NET Developer (SND) class is the most crucial for a developer. If a company is planning on implementing the DMS functionality of Sitecore (which is of course recommended for the extra power it brings), then I also recommend them taking the Sitecore DMS .NET Developer (DND) class as well. Business Users seeking training have two current options. I think both of these are good options, the choice of which depends more on the current skill level of the Business User. More advanced or technical savvy / comfortable Business Users would be better suited by taking the Sitecore CMS Advanced User (CAU) course. Those users who aren’t as comfortable in front of a software package can learn what they need in the Sitecore Content Business User (CBU) course. Finally, for those Marketers out there, the question is based on what your company will implement. If the company is planning on using DMS functionality, then Sitecore DMS Fundamentals for Marketers (DMC) is a must. Companies that send out email campaigns or plan on using the ECM module for Sitecore should strongly consider sending their Marketers to the Sitecore ECM Fundamentals for Marketers (ECM) course. At this point, I would recommend staying away from the Sitecore OMS Certified Marketer (OMS) course, only because OMS has been replaced by DMS. Only users on Sitecore 6.4 or earlier, with no eye on upgrading their Sitecore further should consider the OMS course.
The last question then is when? To me, this is the most crucial of these questions, because the “right” answer to this question will lead to more effective training. I would highly recommend that all people going to an Official Sitecore Training course be exposed to Sitecore in their professional role first. The exposure doesn’t have to be prolonged, but it should be enough that the Developer, Business User or Marketer has an idea of “what Sitecore is” and what Sitecore’s interfaces look like. The reason I recommend that you have an introduction to Sitecore before you take an official course is because the Sitecore Instructors have a very limited time to cover a fairly decent amount of topics. The instructors must finish the entire course in the time allotted, which means that they can only deal with the most minor of sidetracking. If you go into a course without any prior knowledge, you’ll likely get lost quickly, and won’t have the resources to get you caught up in time. It’s very easy to get behind in your learning and never catch up during the course. Conversely, those with some prior exposure to Sitecore can keep up with the trainers and optimize the content that the courses have to offer.
I’ve personally taken a number of the above courses I’ve recommended, and I have colleagues at Perficient who’ve taken some that I haven’t yet. I was able to keep up, enjoy and learn from all of my courses because I picked the right course for my needs and my role, and I went into each course already exposed to Sitecore. Hopefully this post will help you get the best ROI you can out of your Sitecore training budget!