L&D teams certainly want learners to learn, but could making their training operations more efficient help drive better outcomes? Efficiency in business is certainly nothing new, and increasing efficiency in training operations can improve the experience for everyone. This includes instructional designers and subject matter experts who build the course; employees taking the course to acquire knowledge or improve skills; and even customers, who will benefit from interactions with a more skilled staff.
What is training operations?
For a guide on efficient training operations, it’s perhaps helpful to better understand what actually comprises training operations.
The individuals responsible for developing and delivering learning experiences are essential to training operations. These individuals might be full-time staff or part-time contractors, as hybrid teams with varied employment statuses are the norm these days. Such learning teams might include:
- Instructional designers
- Developers and technical staff
- Subject matter experts
- Project managers
- Managers from the business unit
The way team members, stakeholders, business partners, and subject matter experts interact and collaborate is a key component of efficient training operations. As digital transformation and remote or hybrid workforces become more prevalent, addressing how and where the L&D function is structured and works together is critical to operational success.
Processes are also a cornerstone of training operations. These could include anything from the length and frequency of team meetings, checklists for initiating course design, feedback and scoring systems for learning assessments, and even training intake systems that initiate the development of courses.
Traditional models such as ADDIE typically focus on instructional design processes, but the improving the workflows of day-to-day administrative processes in the L&D department can unlock untapped capacity within the team.
The backbone of all operational components in the L&D department is the stack of technologies that employees use, not just to create and deploy learning solutions, but to manage their workload, collaborate on projects, and more.
L&D operations exist in every team, no matter how they are conducted or managed. But assessing and upgrading their efficiency is fast becoming a prominent area of focus for the function. As organizations expect more from learning and development and a strategic seat at the table is claimed, ensuring L&D is a well-oiled machine across all people, processes, and technology should be a top priority.
As as demand for training increases, the struggle to keep up affects training teams of all sizes and budgets. Download this free eBook, The Training Manager’s Guide to Team Productivity and Meeting Training Demand to learn how to do more with less.
How to assess the current state of your learning operations
Learning operations is a new idea and approach to managing all that goes into learning within an organization. As such, there is no must-have, go-to approach to assessing team output and performance. However, to start, consider the following tactics.
Conduct an L&D audit
Figure out what’s working and what’s not by measuring as many of the processes and outcomes as you can. Consider conducting an audit and uncovering the following:
- Costs for seat licenses for learning management systems, authoring tools, and delivery platforms
- How frequently the software is used, and whether all paid features are being utilized
- The number of training requests received by the department, and the process of selecting the ones that will become full-fledged courses
- The number of courses produced using existing design and technology resources
- The number of students who have taken courses and who have received benefits from the training
- Evaluations of the training, from learners, their coworkers, and their managers
Some of this data might be difficult to capture, as learning operations is a new way of assessing the learning function. Over time, as learning operations are placed in the spotlight, learning leaders will be more easily able to access data necessary for measuring the success of their programs.
Calculate your L&D team’s capacity accurately
The right team member needs to be assigned to the right project in order for training operations to be efficient. A mismatch of resources can lead to lower-quality output, thereby affecting the consumers of the learning—your employee learners.
Several situations can occur:
- An unqualified team member is being held responsible for tasks that are outside of their wheelhouse.
- A perfectly qualified team member is not being used for their certain skills and abilities that can meaningfully contribute to a project.
- Team members are overloaded and there is no visibility into upcoming capacity or availability of resources.
Capacity planning provides visibility into who is available to take on work to ensure resources are assigned efficiently across projects. Capacity planning is critical to efficient training operations.
Taking the time to calculate and track your team’s capacity allows the L&D team to effectively prioritize initiatives and maintain a higher level of quality in their output. This operational data can also be used to prove the case for extra resources higher up the chain of command.
Assess your budget and resources in relation to training demand
As cited above, the volume of training requests and an examination of a training intake system can be useful in measuring the activity and efficiency of L&D. Not every course can get built, but the ability to assess budget and resources in relation to training demand can deliver insights into the entire learning operation.
For example, there might be too few courses being built that go way over budget, when third-party, off-the-shelf training is available at a fraction of the cost.
Other reasons could be that the training would benefit only a small group of employees, or that the course, once built, might become obsolete in less than a year—requiring the L&D to constantly update in order to keep the course relevant.
Understanding L&D’s systematic approach to training intake, including any scoring systems for accepting and rejecting requests, in addition to the people and budgets put behind the development of a course, is key to understanding the department’s resources and the full workload of the training team.
To get a firmer grasp on operational efficiency and effectiveness, download this free eBook, How to Optimize Your Training Operations for Increased L&D Output
How to implement an operational framework for L&D
Accelerate the digital transformation and optimization of processes
Learning is increasingly digital, and so should the process to develop, deliver, and measure the impact of that learning. While processes for capturing data and measuring success might be largely manual, eventually, some processes can be automated so that day to day insights can be gathered at regular intervals from various touchpoints.
Centralize planning and collaboration
Training operations managers certainly cannot control all learning that goes on within an organization. Some employees take it upon themselves to spend their own money and time acquiring a skill. Additionally, some business units “go rogue” and build or acquire training programs for their team with or without informing the corporate L&D department. However, to truly understand the organization’s complete picture of learning and to understand where efficiencies can be gained, learning operations should be as centralized as possible—even if eventually the training is produced by the business unit.
Create a system for efficient resource allocation
During an L&D audit, you might find that some team members are overloaded with projects and tasks while others are underutilized. The same can be true of budget, software licenses, and more. Once an analysis of your resource usage is completed, the next logical step is to develop a system for ensuring that resources are allocated as efficiently as possible across training initiatives and projects. While you can try this via a spreadsheet, a learning operations platform is a far more effective and manageable solution, especially over the long term.
Focus on learning measurement and analytics
Again, efficient training operations also take into consideration the quality of the courses and the benefits to learners. Learning measurement and analytics are critical to the success of L&D and are an integral part of the data collected on course and department success. While internal analytics provide insights on L&D operations, learning measurement can prove the impact of L&D initiatives to the organization.
Learning operations software for training teams
As L&D teams try to centralize operations and study performance in order to improve, they need the right tools for planning, organization, and collaboration in order to maximize team capacity and ensure proper resource utilization.
With Cognota, you can plan and manage capacity while standardizing L&D processes, ensuring that projects can stay within budget and be delivered on time. See for yourself with a 14 day free trial!
Do it all! Find a strategy template, progress tracker, calendar, checklist, and cheat sheet in this free Learning and Development Strategy Toolkit.