A systematic approach to training ensures that an organization’s course development efforts produce consistent results. This includes using a structured approach to analyzing needs, designing class outlines, developing course content and materials, delivering instruction, and evaluating success. Ensuring that training courses meet the real needs of the target audience requires comprehensive planning and organization. Aligning learning objectives to a company’s strategic goals enables employees to undergo training that improves their job performance and produces a positive business impact.
Adopting a systematic approach to training typically involves creating a training organization in the human resources department that's responsible for ensuring that employees have access to required courses and career development opportunities. It typically employs formal learning management system software, such as Saba, Capterra or Moodle, to administer course catalogs. A systematic approach to training includes pre- and post-training assessment of student skills and knowledge to facilitate calculation of return on investment and validate training effectiveness.
This approach allows an organization to centralize administration, automate repetitive functions, offer self-service guidance to users, deliver self-paced content on a continuous basis, support standards such as the Sharable Content Object Reference Model, and allow users to create personalized development plans. By analyzing job performance to isolate skills and knowledge gaps, training professionals pinpoint the organization's true training needs instead of simply responding to training requests. They also base their decisions on such factors as high numbers of product defects, low customer satisfaction or increasing operational costs due to employee errors.
The first step involves assessing training needs. By observing employees at work, interviewing managers and asking expert workers about what they need to know to perform their tasks, training professionals more accurately identify what topics and activities should be included in training courses. During this phase, training professionals identify when training should occur and who should attend.
Designing and Developing Courses
Designing training courses usually includes defining learning objectives and instructional goals. This helps trainers formulate the course outline and supports exercises and testing. They then create a project plan that describes the tasks, resources and time commitments required to produce the training course. With these details, sponsors and stakeholders can approve or amend the plan and allocate funding.
Implementing and Evaluating
Critical components of delivering training include scheduling classes, inviting eligible personnel, conducting the training, tracking participation and accepting feedback about the events. Monitoring post-training job performance ensures that training produces the desired results. Follow-up surveys using tools such as Zoomerang or SurveyMonkey give training professionals valuable input that they use to improve the instructional content in a systematic way.
Tara Duggan is a Project Management Professional (PMP) specializing in knowledge management and instructional design. For over 25 years she has developed quality training materials for a variety of products and services supporting such companies as Digital Equipment Corporation, Compaq and HP. Her freelance work is published on various websites.