Small and medium-sized businesses are always under pressure, squeezed from various angles by competition, expenses, regulations and the whims of the public. Many who start out on in business fail within a short period of time, usually because there's more money going out than coming in. Clearly, controlling the money going out is essential to keeping a smaller organisation alive, for giving it room to prosper and flourish.

So it would be quite understandable to say that, no, you're not interested in any IT training for your small or medium-sized enterprise. Sure, we can all recognise that it's useful, but it comes with a cost, and those pennies need to be saved - it's just not an expense that the business needs to bear. This is a completely understandable attitude, a sensible standpoint for a company concerned with limited profit margins.

There is, however, another way of looking at it. An expense becomes an investment if it's likely to become more valuable over time, and training for some or all of your staff in how to make the most of Microsoft Office software really will be a valuable investment. After all, your business is probably amongst the large majority who use Office software in one way or another in the day-to-day running of the company - and better use of the software improves both how the administration side of your organisation works, and the amount of time that's spent on regular administrative tasks. A short training course in using office can be highly profitable for any business of any size.

However, even if you're convinced that Office training really is what your company needs, the briefest of online searches will tell you that there's an awful lot of it on offer, no end of companies promising a transformation in how your organisation uses IT. It's never easy to pick through a congested market - whatever it is you're looking for - and to know when you've found the best deal; however, there are certain pointers you can look for, key benefits that bring a clear advantage for your organisation.

One thing you'll need to be sure of is that you're not going to be wasting any money. Unfortunately, course cancellations are a very common expense; you'd expect your money back from a cancellation, of course, but what about the impact on your schedules?

If you were planning for training on a particular day and it doesn't happen, it can be very difficult to fill that time enough to avoid waste. Yet there are training providers who can guarantee the course will definitely happen when you booked it to happen, no matter how far in advance you booked it, and finding a provider that offers that guarantee should be seen as a necessity; after all, it can't become much of an investment if the training doesn't actually take place. And if you can find a training provider that will reschedule courses should your own schedule force an unexpected, last-minute change, then you can be even more confident that the training will be there when you need it to be.

If there's another potential problem that would waste your valuable funds (and time), it would be with the quality of the course. A poorly taught training course, perhaps by an unqualified teacher, would do more harm than good: at best, your staff will have lost time for no benefit, and at worst, they may have been taught incorrect and inefficient techniques. It really is critical that you find a training provider whose teachers are all fully Microsoft-qualified - not just an assurance that they know what they're doing, but a guarantee that they all have the certificates to prove it.

Identifying a provider that will ensure those two essentials are fulfilled is vital; once you've done so, you should certainly look at more specific details, such as cost, class sizes and post-course-support. But the certainty that training will go ahead, and that it will be of the very highest quality, is a must for any smaller business. Your company can benefit from Office training, but when profit margins are tight, it couldn't be more important to ensure that you get the training you need, when you need it - and that you don't waste any time or money in the process.