To Train or Not to Train

Theres been a recent push among some of our clients to start bringing 3d imaging systems in-house; its nothing new but it has become more prevalent than ever before. Prior to 2013 I had less than 5 clients out of several hundred ask my team to assist them to integrate various technologies (that they had previously paid for as a service) into their internal workflow. So far this year Ive had at least 5 more clients pursue this option. The request to assist is a loaded one and had been very difficult to navigate for me until I put it all into perspective.

In the majority of cases the client wanted some form of training to help them get off on the right foot. Although I dont hesitate to offer consulting services, training is a different animal. Weve worked for years, continuously refining our processes and tools, investing in R&D and worked closely with hardware and software manufacturers to make sure we have a deep understanding of their products. Consulting allows me to help you seamlessly embed our services into your workflow while training basically gives you my playbook.

The pending decision to train or not to train really makes me take a step back and try to consciously separate and comprehend the emotional response from the rational business response. While taking that step back I began to struggle with understanding this shift and started to ask myself So whats the deal? Are the services too expensive, too effective, too democratized or becoming too intuitive? Not to give the story away, but its a little bit of everything and none of the above all at the same time. For now lets look at the immediate decision at hand and the factors that go into it.

Emotionally I want nothing to do with it. This is primarily based on my attachment to the processes and fear of losing a client. These are real considerations and to have so much passion for what our team has created only leaves me feeling like Id be selling short everyone that wears my jersey by sharing. To get past this initial response takes a lot of forward thinking and understanding of everyones position and needs.

The rational side of things gets more complicated. Youve actually just received a huge compliment. For your client to have an interest usually means that its been generated through successful utilization of your services to-date. In fact, the success must have been impactful enough for them to convince the powers that be to fork over large sums of money to pursue this endeavor. Congratulations, youve done a great job as a service provider! It still doesnt explain what makes them decide to try it themselves. Ive had some in depth discussions with folks while exploring this and the reasoning usually comes from a few places.

The perceived truth several manufacturers are starting to see success in going after our typical client base, and they should. There are some clients that should definitely perform this work for themselves but this is the exception and not the norm. What they get from the sales demo is a conveyance of the ease of use, usually with a data set thats been set up for success. Its hard not to get excited about a machine that runs as smooth as your smart phone, add to that software that almost runs itself and youre in business! And why would they think any differently? Everything theyve worked with in the past has been great. Even the software that theyre running is starting to become very effective at bringing in large datasets. So, running the numbers right out of the gate is easy: cost of hardware + cost of software and youre looking at a reasonable expense.

The reality besides the fact that there are so many variables in acquisition that it would make your head spin, the skill set that goes into post processing is momentous. Sure, equipment has become more user friendly than ever before and a single software program doesnt seem like too much to handle. But what my clients usually dont see behind the curtain is the multiple technologies that we use for acquisition depending on the scope. Many times well deploy several different tools on the same project. In addition to the acquisition technology, were running over two dozen software platforms to be as efficient as possible in post processing. They also miss the 10% of my revenue that goes into R&D and training to make sure were always on the cutting edge.

The result those that have gone through with the investment get my training, usually designed to address their specific needs and based on utilizing the software that they have. Well make recommendations on additional tools to reach a higher performance but these are usually denied when they go for more funding. The same project that takes my team 40 man hours is usually performed in 70-80 by the client. After about a year we add new software and hardware, discover new workflows and perform that same 40 hours of work in 30, they keep the same pace.

Eventually the relationship starts to evolve into a partnership, our team embedded with theirs to handle large, expedited or complex projects. Also to help when they get into a bind and need to recover a dataset thats gone sideways. This tends to give you a level of trust that couldnt have existed without working through the integration phase. The key is to stay close and be ready to help them become a champion in their organization. The alternative I see is to do nothing, let them try and fail while building an animosity towards you because you could have helped but didnt no thanks.

About the Author

Ted Mort

Ted Mort: Operations Manager of Precision 3D Scanning, incorporates his diverse background in geomatics, computer science and construction to propel 3d imaging into the forefront of applied measurement in AEC. Mr. Mort has worked with renowned clients to successfully integrate advanced technology into their work flows.
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