This is a post I created for Response Media last month. Re-posted here with permission.

In the business world, there is a difference between “Yeah, I can do that” and “I’m certified in that process.” Although most people can learn software and systems that help them do their jobs better, going through the process of certification shows employers and customers that you care enough about your job to go the extra mile, be an expert at what you do and produce high quality results.

Currently, I am using several different ESP solutions for sending email here at Response Media. For product A, I’ve been able to follow online training and actually progress toward a certification. Product B has an online knowledge base and plenty of help documents but no truly directed certification process. Although I use product B more frequently, I am more confident working in product A, where I’ve actually gone through the certification process. I understand the different modules’ purpose, how to exploit the full potential of the system to increase email performance, even if we don’t use all of the modules for every project. As I use both products more frequently, I find myself progressing to expert level much faster in product A than product B. I fully attribute this to the certification process.

With so many different ESP products out there talking big game about their unique tools with bells and whistles, having a certification process for your staff to learn quickly how to best exploit those features is a big benefit to the ultimate performance of that product for your company.

Many companies are willing to invest in education for your certifications—take advantage of it! Some certifications can cost quite a bit more than you would want to spend out of your own pocket. These badges of accomplishment help you better represent your company, as well as yourself, so go find out if your company will help. Plus, there are quite a few financial incentives for your company, including tax deductions for the training and increased productivity from employees.

Finally, I think anyone who is tasked with learning a new software platform should invest the time needed to get trained as much as possible. Don’t rely just on the platform’s support lines or knowledge base articles to become educated. You will only make yourself frustrated with the platform and never become as versed with the system as you could. Find those certification courses and get enrolled. You’ll be happier with the results and with the software you use every day.