If your organization is like most, you've probably either been hit by layoffs and benefit cuts, or if nothing else a few "cost savings initiatives." Whether IT has taken a direct hit or been battered indirectly by the strain put on the rest of the company, you're most likely now expected to do more with less, including things you've never had formal training for.

One of the most common cases now is being asked to implement, customize, and train an entire workforce to use SharePoint. Now.

This situation creates a difficult catch 22, because you have to have money to get the training necessary to save money, just like the old saying that you have to have money to make money. Unfortunately, even in this Internet age, the kind of structured, professional training you need probably can't be found for free.

This is where AppDev comes in. You've probably heard of them--they are one of the biggest names in technical learning. The most popular product AppDev offers is AppDev OnDemand. In a nutshell, the product costs $2,995, and gives you access to over 60 courses on topics such as:

  • SQL Server 2005 and Business Intelligence (2008 coming in March)
  • SharePoint 2007
  • Visual Basic 2008 Web Developer
  • Visual C# 2008 Web Developer
  • Windows Server 2003
  • And others, including legacy software

The biggest downsides to the OnDemand are two-fold: one, it only lasts a year. And two, you can only run it on one machine. So, while multiple people could use the same subscription, it's not ideal. (It's not as simple as just logging on with someone else's username--I asked.) However, when you contrast what you're getting with the cost of an instructor-led training course, it is pretty compelling.

Also, you can always order an individual topic area for a year for $995. Legacy software is often $295. Right now, SQL Server 2005 and SharePoint 2007 are both on sale for $495.

As a final note, AppDev also offers KSource Online LearningTM, which offers learning solutions for a full team of up to thousands of employees. It also has additional management functions, so that a manager could track the amount of time employees are spending on an additional training topic.

The disadvantage of OnDemand training is that you have to find time to use it. While a conference or in-person course forces you to come and listen, the OnDemand training could just sit and collect digital dust, making it a paltry investment. So, if you're going to get it, make sure you schedule out training time to use it!

If you're being asked to do more with less, take the time now to get the training you need. In the long run, it will save you a lot of time sifting through forums for the answers to specific questions.

Know of any great training resources that are free or low-cost? I'd love to hear about them.

Additional reading from SQL Server Magazine: Additional reading from Windows IT Pro: