The Strategic Importance of Training Intake to Corporate Learning

strategic training intake

As executive interest in the impact of the learning and development function grows, training teams are trying to find better ways to align their training programs with strategic business initiatives. 

Where some teams are still lagging behind is the training intake process. From the moment your learners realize a need for training to the kick-off meeting for the resulting training project, L&D has a myriad of opportunities to streamline processes and ensure their training efforts are strategically prioritized.

1.The training request form

Capturing all the necessary information from the requester is essential to ensuring easy prioritization of training requests, determining if the required training already exists, and saving time by capturing all the information you need up front. 

Creating a formalized process

The current informal nature of training requests—emails, sticky notes, conversations in the hallway—most likely ensures that the training will not be created or delivered adequately, if at all.

A training intake process includes a standard set of questions that force both sides to think more deeply about the importance and viability of the request.

“We need to be in the initial conversation if we are really going to add value.

When requests come to us later in the process there is no room for us to consult or to verify that the solution is addressing the real issue.”
-Joanne, L&D Senior Manager

By creating a formal training request form that is available to employees and religiously adhered to for training intake, L&D can standardize their approach and ensure strategic prioritization of course creation.

Asking the right questions

But how do you know how to prioritize those requests, even if they are all coming through on a standardized form?

Asking the right questions up front on the form instead of waiting to find out essential information later on will ensure you have instant oversight into the strategic value of the request. 

These questions can include:

  • What specific situation, challenge, or need is prompting this request?
  • Type of training required
  • Desired business outcome from training
  • What skills or competencies will be learned?
  • Preferred format for training
  • Approximately how many learners will take this training?
  • Does this training already exist in any format?
  • What do you expect learners to be able to do after this training?
  • How will you measure the effectiveness of this training?
  • Do you have documents or other resources that can be used as content for this training?

Try this free training request form template!

2. Capturing data

Gathering and interpreting training intake data helps L&D to close skills gaps, understand the needs and demand for training in the organization, and better analyze existing resources. But training intake is a largely untouched area of the training development process, something we’ve learned in conversation with existing Cognota clients:

“It’s a bit informal. We discuss requests at our weekly team meetings. We discuss questions like: “Is there a theme here? Is it an urgent need? Does this need to be addressed now? Who’s going to circle back with the person who requested it?” 

Leveraging training intake metrics

So which training intake metrics deserve your attention? And what are the benefits to your training team? Here are some examples of training intake metrics you can capture to maintain oversight on the demand for training.

  • Volume of requests
  • Training request acceptance rate
  • Training request rejection rate
  • Requests by business function
  • Requests by line of business
  • Requests by topic
  • Demand Vs capacity

Creating a formal, standardized training request form can help you to capture and analyze these metrics.

Resource planning

Once you’ve established the resources needed per request, you can start to measure this against the existing capacity of the department. This metric will tell you which requests can realistically be fulfilled based on the available resources. 

When it comes to fighting for increased headcount, contractors, or new technology to streamline processes, these are the metrics to show your execs.

Here is a basic example of how your demand Vs. capacity can be recorded:

Q3 2020DemandCapacityAvailability
Active FTEs (headcount)37.6336-1.63
Period Capacity (hours)14,67714,040-637

3. Project Readiness

Many L&D pros experience similar bottlenecks or challenges across multiple training projects. In a recent webinar, Laura Doerr from eLearning Brothers shared her highly effective “Project Readiness” framework for a strategic approach to training intake.

The Readiness framework helps you avoid and mitigate these challenges from the start, so you and your team can stay on track and be confident you’ve covered all the bases.

During the Readiness meeting, you’ll discuss all the project needs, potential roadblocks, timelines, roles & responsibilities, scope, success criteria, and all the other aspects of the project that have the potential to cause trouble down the line if not properly defined from the start.

What is Readiness?

“Readiness” is a framework for making sure 

By using Readiness and taking a standardized approach to training intake, you can:

  • Dramatically reduce “Big Let Down” moments
  • Decrease timeline killers
  • Run more efficient kick-off meetings
  • Run into less bottlenecks that start with “you should have told me” or “I wish I had known” 
  • Identify risks you hadn’t considered
  • Build confidence in the project
  • Prevent timeline and budget busters

How is it different to project kick-off?

Readiness is vital to a successful kick-off and overall project implementation.

The main difference is that Readiness prepares you for all eventualities so you can avoid nasty surprises on the kick-off call that derail the project. Once you’ve successfully completed the Readiness phase, kick-off actually means kick-off – the project can get underway straight away rather than ironing out kinks as you go.

No matter what way you currently manage training intake, there are plenty of ways to streamline and standardize processes so you can be certain of providing optimal strategic value to your organization.

If you’d like to learn more about the
strategic value of your training intake process,
check out this free ebook.

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The Strategic Importance of Training Intake to Corporate Learning