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Making training a productivity center

This guest post is by Jim Hopkins, president and CEO of JK Hopkins Consulting and author of “The Training Physical.”

Just as it is difficult for most of us to ignore a ringing phone over what we should be working on at the moment, training can be easily sidetracked without a clear set of goals.

Setting goals for training programs is basic project management, with a twist. Instead of focusing on the end date of a project, I encourage training managers to focus on the desired implementation date of that first workshop or online event. Working backward from that date gives you a sense of how quickly you must pull everything together.

Most training programs involve these three factors:

  • Designing both the learning and evaluation process. As long as there is a clear objective of what kind of behaviors need to be developed once the training is completed, then designing the learning process is clear-cut. Determine whether you will be training in the classroom or in a virtual (webinar) environment. Then decide what kind of practice needs to be in place to reinforce the learned skills so they get used quickly after the training event. In some cases, a program supplied by a vendor will include this environment, which will save you countless hours designing one.
  • Designing or acquiring training materials. If you have the luxury of time between today and your implementation date, you can consider designing materials yourself. Keep in mind that design is a costly phase and should only be used when the level of customization outweighs the ability to purchase an off-the-shelf program.
  • Preparing trainers to deliver. Ask vendors how your facilitators will become certified to teach the vendor’s program. When you are designing materials, your facilitators are part of the design process and are learning along with the design creation. In any case, the facilitator needs time after learning the content to practice before that first delivery.

Where things can go wrong

The most often overlooked time killer that must be worked into your plan is the approval and payment process. You need to determine, if you were ready to purchase today, how long it would take to review a proposal, get the necessary people to agree, have your legal department approve of any agreements or contracts, and pay the invoice. All this must be completed before you get your hands on the training materials, and best-case scenarios can take a month sometimes.