Q: Why should I train my staff? Will I recoup my training costs and the lost production time?
A: Our response to this question is another question. “Why would you not train your staff?” The engineering industry is a professional business sector. We are responsible for millions of dollars worth of construction and infrastructure. Would you hire a high school graduate to design a state highway? Would you hire a professional florist to prepare your construction drawings? Why not? It’s obvious. They wouldn’t know what they were doing. Why go to college? Why get a masters degree? Why do we even read CE News or ENR or American Surveyor? We do this because we want to be knowledgeable and industry savvy. Think about it another way. Would you let an untrained dentist give you a root canal? How about letting a chiropractic ‘wanna-be’ adjust your neck? I doubt it. Have I made my point about “why to train”? Will you recoup your costs? The answer to that question depends on how effective the training is; exacting subject matter; enough hands-on; and an instructor who knows his business and your business. This is what we do, and we are among the best.
Q: Why are some of your training classes so long?
A: The key thing to be said here is that our training classes are designed to teach the user to actually use and understand the software so he can be productive. After one of our classes you will hit the ground running with that subject matter. As you may or may not know, InRoads is a very complex software package with quite a bit of functionality; it’s not Word or Excel. We have been working with this software for a long time and training others for equally as long. Our training classes are the result of our experience working with the software as well as training 1000’s of users. Oddly enough a common piece of feedback after our training classes is that the attendees wished that it was longer. Of course ‘more’ is always better when it comes to obtaining knowledge but sometimes we just have to get back to actual work. If you don’t need to understand certain portions of the software we can exclude those sections from the training class and shorten the length. Call us to discuss your needs and we will accommodate you the best we can while ensuring that you achieve your intended results of the class.
Q: What are my training options?
A: Our specific training classes and philosophy is detailed in another area of the website, but if you want our advice on your options, here’s what we think. The decision that you have to make is just how well you want to understand the software, as a novice or as an expert.
Here are some options:
- Buy a book – read it, practice it. This takes some personal discipline but is a perfect fit for some people.
- Phone support / assistance – If you have very specific issues you can take advantage of our phone / e-mail support. This can be an effective way to learn specific bits of functionality but is not the choice for learning large portions of the software.
- Online training – This is a good solution if you are trying to lower your overall cost because it saves on travel expenses. Online training however is not as effective as face to face instructor led training. If you’ve ever done online training you know what we mean.
- Offsite Essentials/Advanced training- At our Zen office in Glendale, California.
- Onsite Essentials/Advanced training – This is a very effective method of training. It is done at your facility to save on travel costs if multiple users are involved in the training.
- Custom Project Support – Another way to obtain training is a very customized approached. We can work with you in either a group or individual environment and teach you the software while assisting you with an active project. This sometimes makes funding easier because it can be charged to the project instead of pure training dollars.
If you aren’t sure which approach would be best, we are happy to discuss your options with you.
Q: How many students can attend a single class? Does it get more expensive with more students?
A: The optimum size is around 10 students; however we have held class with a little as 2 students and as many as 20. There is a much more detailed write-up regarding the effects of the class size under the Training portion of our website.
Q: Is the cost of the class per student or per class?
A: The costs for our on-line classes are based on a “per student” rate; however our onsite and offsite classes are simply based on the number of days of training.
Q: What is involved in the cost of training at our facility?
A: The costs would be a combination of three things: 1) The cost of the instructor at a daily fixed rate, 2) the cost of training materials per student, and 3) the cost of any travel expenses for the instructor. Contact us for a detailed quote and breakdown of the training content and associated costs.
Q: Do you teach onsite classes anywhere?
A: Yes, we sure do. We’ve traveled to the most northern reaches of Canada in -40 degree weather, to the gorgeous island of Hawaii, to the deserts of Saudi Arabia and all over the US. We look forward to coming to your town anywhere in the world.
Q: A new version of InRoads came out, do I really need training?
A: Not necessarily. If you are knowledgeable with a particular version of InRoads you may or may not need training if another version comes out. For instance, if you were working with InRoads XM and are proficient with the software, you probably do not need training on InRoads V8i because the changes to the software just weren’t that significant. If you were very competent with InRoads V8.05 and are moving to InRoads XM, trust us, you need training. If you are ever in doubt, just contact us. We will not push you into a training class if you don’t need it.
Q: Do you provide “Open Enrollment” classes where we can send 1 person for training?
A: First let us define what an “Open Enrollment” class is. An Open Enrollment class is a class where anyone can sign up and join in. The class is held in some common area like a conference center, hotel conference room, or other office facility. Anyone can sign up, pay the attendance fee, show up at the facility, and be trained. In a class like this you might find a combination of DOT users, US Army Corps users, individuals from the private sector doing roadway work, site work, and even the occasional landscape Architect or Surveyor. Because of the diverse background of the students in this type of class, these classes must have a formal and ridged structure covering only the basics of the software to ensure that no student is forced to waste time learning aspects of the software that they have little to no interest in.
So, the answer is ‘yes’ and ‘no’.
In the early years of Zen Engineering these types of classes were periodically held once or twice a year depending on demand. In recent years these classes have not been held for several reasons. 1) Zen Engineering has a high demand for training within a single company or agency. Because of this we have directed more focus to providing a much more customizable class to specific individuals that all share a common goal influenced by their management. We have found that training a specific company or agency has significant advantages for them in terms of class content. In classes like these we can modify the content to conform to the needs of that particular company or agency. In an open enrollment class this is much more difficult because there are such diverse interests among the attendees. 2) There is a licensing issue. As you may know the InRoads software combined with the underlying CAD platform is fairly expensive. Obtaining a dozen or more licenses of the software is very expensive and few (if any) independent training companies, besides Bentley, have this quantity of licenses available. Therefore, the attendees coming to the class are required to utilize their own licenses to run the software, and many times this isn't a viable option.
If open enrollment classes are unavailable, a great alternative for individual training is online training, which we provide. This is a lower cost solution and allows for a single user to get many of the same training advantages as an open enrollment class. In addition to that, in certain circumstances, it may be possible for us to coordinate the licensing in order to hold an onsite open enrollment class.
Please don’t hesitate to contact us with your needs.
Q: What are my options regarding class size?
A: The upper end of the size of the class is typically between 10 to 12 students. This is pretty much an industry standard since most instructors can usually manage that number of students successfully, but we will work to accommodate your needs.
Here is some food for thought regarding the size of the class.
- With many students the amount of questions and answers will unavoidably dig into the normal routine Lecture / Hands-on time...hence forcing a shorter lecture or hands-on period ...or rushing the end of the training. Almost uniformly in every case of past training that exceeded a dozen or so we have received negative feedback regarding some aspect of the class that stemmed from the size.
- Part of the value of our classes is that we work with each student individually during the hands on portion of the class. This is one of the more noteworthy differences between our classes and others. With more than 10 - 12 students the amount of quality 1 on 1 time degrades very significantly.
- This is sort of a reiteration of the two earlier points, but we intend that every student be able to freely ask questions ...and be able to receive a good thorough answer. These questions occur during the lab portion of the training as well as the lecture portion. The questions and answers during the lecture portion are at times even more valuable to the whole of the class than the one on one individual questions. This particular aspect of the class is what brings the training to the level of a custom class ...specifically addressing the exact interests of the attendees as a whole. With a large number of students this is not only very difficult, but is practically impossible, and we will likely have to only entertain a limited amount of questions. We have had some classes in the past where it was decided to restrict the amount of questioning, as determined by certain internal class moderators. This is not really in your best interests, and has resulted in poor class evaluations and limited understanding for some users.
- A large class should require two instructors. As a note, if you go to any software conference that allows many attendees, you will find that the instructor is not alone. There is a very good reason for this as detailed here.
- Our interests by far are primarily aimed at the resulting effectiveness for the attending students.
- As you can probably tell this is a sensitive subject with us. We pride ourselves in having developed the most successful InRoads training program available, a fact proven by many hundreds of class evaluations. We have been training, mentoring and assisting new and experienced users for almost two decades now and we have seen what does and what doesn't produce results. Our experience has led us to 1) Only do those things that are in the best technical interest of the user, 2) Teach an excellent class that produces excellent results and, 3) Provide a class of sufficient quality that contains more return value than the cost of the class.