How to get your boss to approve the training you want

*This is a series.*

We’ve all been there. There’s a training you really want to take, but your boss isn’t so sure. This can be because it’s out of budget, they feel it’s too ‘off topic’ from your current job, there’s no time with your current workload, they are afraid they will lose you if you have new skills, or some other reason they won’t tell you. Let’s go through all of these reasons and figure out how YOU can get you’re training approved.

Photo: #WOCTechChat

Note: I run my own training company, We Hack Purple, that specializes in Application Security, Secure Coding and DevSecOps training. While I am definitely hoping this article helps our customers, I’m also hoping it helps everyone else who needs training! For our examples we will use the Application Security Foundations Program from We Hack Purple, and we will try to justify taking it to your boss.

The first thing you need to do is make sure you are selecting the *best* training for your specific job or career development. Don’t take the popular one, or ‘the cool one’ that people are talking about on Twitter. Evaluate very carefully which one will help you level up in your career and your current job.

Next, read about the content of the training you are taking. Make notes of what’s in there and keep the syllabus handy, as you will likely need to reference it as you write your justification. You also want to have some other links to other courses to compare it to; both to explain why the one you have selected is better and why it’s (hopefully) more cost-effective.

Let’s start creating our defenses for your boss’s potential objections.

Objection 1: We don’t have the budget/it’s too expensive.

This is the one that I personally have received the most often in my career. I have actually had a boss laugh in my face when I suggested one single course that would have cost my combined training budget for 5 years. I explained that cyber security courses are quite costly, and all of my bosses continued to reject my requests. I ended up selecting training from several different places that was cheaper, but nowhere near as good as what I had asked for. At the time I didn’t know how to get around this hurdle.

With a little more industry experience and a chance to see a lot more training, I realized that I needed to explain the value of what we were getting was greater than what we were spending. Let me explain using the We Hack Purple Application Security Foundations Program as the example (but this should work with whatever you have chosen, if you have chosen the best training for your situation).

Dear Boss,

I want to take the Application Security Foundations Program from We Hack Purple for my training this year. I know you feel it’s too expensive and that we might not have the budget but let me explain how I think it will save us more money than it costs.

We keep hiring consultants to help us with our AppSec Program, and that is very expensive. And we haven’t been getting the results we want, they show up and write one policy or one guideline, then leave. This program will provide some starter policies, standards and guidelines, so we don’t need to pay that consultant anymore. After taking the training I will know what to do and have tools to start with so I can hit the ground running.

We also keep changing our strategy, because we haven’t been getting the results we want, and the dev teams don’t seem to be ‘on board’ with what we have been doing. This program will not only help me build and plan an entire AppSec program throughout the three courses, in Level 2 of the program there’s an entire module to teach me how to support our culture change (advocacy), how to build a security champions program, AND how to make presentations that aren’t the death-by-PowerPoint that we are used to giving. They even show us how to measure the effectiveness of our program, so we know if the strategy we are using is actually *working*, so we can know when we need to change or stay the course. Right now, we are just guessing at what to do to make sure our software is secure, but with this program, I would know.

I realize that $999 USD is a lot, and we are a small company. But this is the only training I could find like this on the internet, one that will teach me how to build and launch an AppSec program. That’s what the company needs me to do. Please approve this training so I can get started.

Sincerely,

Your-Name-Here

Up next we will explore Objection #2: They feel the training you have selected is too ‘off topic’ from your current job.

PS We just launched a swag shop, just in time for Christmas! Code securely, in style!

Tanya Janca’s Application Security Adventures #WeHackPurple