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ROI Justification

Why You Should Go to SQLRally (and How to Ask for the Bucks)

Want a high quality, reasonably priced SQL Server training event on the east coast? Ready to experience where SQL ‘dreams come true’ for 3 magical days? Join us at SQLRally Orlando! We’re planning a great event and we want to help you get there.

Here’s what you’re going to get at PASS SQLRally:

  • 3 full days of SQL Server awesomeness, May 11-13, 2011, Orlando, FL
  • 48 technical training sessions delivered by stars and rising stars in the SQL Server community
  • 4 tracks: DBA, BI, AppDev and Professional Dev
  • Choice of 4 deep-dive full-day workshops during the Pre-Con day
  • Fantastic networking with people who are as passionate about SQL Server as you are… and may be only a local call away

How to get approval and funding

So now we get to the big question: how to convince your boss that you need to go and that (s)he needs to pay for it.

We’ve come up with a list of common objections that we’ve encountered and provided some responses that will hopefully help you win your case.

Objection Handling

I don’t have budget.
If there aren’t designated funds for professional development right now, how about funding for support, consultants, or contractors? The training I’ll gain will decrease any spend we might have to do in those areas. We may still have to access those resources but I will be in a better position to deal with them more knowledgably and quickly.

The company can’t pay for you to go away for half a week to party.
I know that some conferences are just an excuse for a paid holiday but that is absolutely not the case with PASS SQLRally. This is one of the best TRAINING grounds for SQL Server, anywhere. It’s run by the Professional Association for SQL Server (PASS), a not-for-profit organization that’s focused on SQL Server education. The sessions drill specifically into areas that I need to learn more about, and they will return the investment many times by reducing future support calls to Microsoft, consultant time, problems, and downtime. They have sessions in <check the agenda and insert the relevant sessions here> that will absolutely increase my skills and ultimately benefit the department and the company.

It’s too expensive.
The early bird registration fee for the three days is only $498 (until April 12) and for that, I’ll get at a bare minimum 20 solid hours of intensive training in exactly the areas I need, plus an opportunity to ask for free advice from the speakers. Some of the speakers are consultants who would cost us that much just for a few hours of attention. I’ll be coming back with knowledge I can put to use at work right away. Plus I can coach the other members of our team in what I learned to further extend the training. Even with travel expenses factored in, the value of the learning really does exceed the cost.

It’s still too expensive.
If there’s no way the company could cover the full three days, then how about just the 2-day conference? For $399 (only $299 if you register by April 12), it covers 12 hours of targeted sessions that will directly affect my day-to-day work. <Pick some example sessions from the agenda to support your case.>

Or the one-day pre-conference workshop is only $199 for a deep-dive into (pick the most appropriate pre-con from the list below)
<a BI workshop by an expert team on how to build a data warehouse and support it with the Microsoft BI platform>
<query performance tuning by Grant Fritchey, who’s well-known for his strong expertise in this area>
<SQL Server 2008 coding skills so I can really understand and maximize the new features and best practices>
<leadership and team management skills by one of the top leaders in the SQL Server community, Kevin Kline, so I can more effectively manage, motivate and retain our team>.

What about travel costs?
Orlando is one of the best places to go to when it comes to low-cost travel. It’s not high season and there are always deals on flights and a huge selection of hotel deals. (As a side note: you may want to consider combining or adding on a few days and making it a family holiday, and kill 2 birds with one stone.)

Can’t you get this training for free on the Internet?
There’s lots of free webcasts online and some of them are very good but they can’t replace the learning I’ll get from being surrounded by 500 other people who do what I do, and the first-hand access to the experts who will be onsite. With webcasts, I can’t ask those specific questions that we need answered, and the time spent searching online for the right answers is a lot of wasted time that benefits no one. Plus, the people that I will meet in person will be people that I can easily contact afterwards if I run into any issues and need advice.

What if something breaks while you’re away?
There couldn’t be a better time for something to break. I’m only an email/text/phone call away and I’ll be surrounded by hundreds of SQL Server experts. If I can’t solve the problem, I can get (free) help and answers from people who can.

The Official Ask

In addition to the ammunition above, we’ve written a draft email you could use as a starting point to send to your boss. Be sure to personalize it to make your best case and point out the specific sessions that will provide your company with the most return:

Hi <Boss' name>,

PASS SQLRally is a three-day training event focused on SQL Server and BI education. The event will be held May 11-13 in Orlando, FL and is put on by the not-for-profit Professional Association for SQL Server.

I’ve been researching the various training options out there and PASS SQLRally is the most useful, best quality, and least expensive option for getting the specific SQL Server and BI training I need to best manage, maintain, and improve our deployment.

The sessions on <insert key sessions> exactly address our needs and the learning I’ll gain will deliver an immediate ROI for our department. The <pre-conference session name> full-day workshop will provide me with the deep skills I need to maximize our <BI/query performance/SQL Server 2008 installation/team’s performance and productivity>.

I’d like to get your approval to attend this training event. Here are the top 5 ways our company would benefit by my attendance:

  • I’ll learn new skills that will directly address some issues we have with SQL Server.
  • I can put this knowledge to work immediately upon my return to the office.
  • By gaining the skills myself, we could also save the cost of bringing in outside consultants.
  • I’ll get instant, face-to-face answers to our specific SQL Server questions from expert speakers, Microsoft attendees, and other attendees. Not only that, I'll make contacts that will be invaluable when we have future questions or issues.
  • I’ll share my knowledge with the rest of the team so we can all gain from the experience.

More information can be found at the PASS SQLRally website at www.sqlrally.com. The registration fee is only $299 until April 12, a $100 savings from the regular price, and just $349 through April 30. I’ll be learning from some of the top experts in the field, including Aaron Bertrand, Adam Jorgensen, Jonathan Kehayias, Devin Knight, Patrick LeBlanc, Jennifer McCown, Stacia Misner, Brian Mitchell, Tim Mitchell, and Ed Wilson.

Please let me know if you have any questions. I’m looking forward to discussing this further with you. 

Thank you for your support,

<Your name>

Do you have other objections you have to overcome? If yes, please let us know and hopefully we can help with a response. Have other strategies that have been successful for you in the past? Please share them with us!

Go forth, good luck, and we hope to see you at PASS SQLRally!

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