Planning your training team’s resource needs and the correct allocation of those resources can be such a headache. It’s rarely accurate and often doesn’t take into account all those unexpected surprises that can crop up, from budget freezes to staff turnover.
So, if you haven’t managed to get your resource planning down to a fine art, don’t worry. You’re certainly not alone. And while precision seems like the name of the game for resource planning, it really isn’t.
What is crucial, though, is that your resource planning enables you to make the most out of what you have. That includes budget, personnel hours, and the skills available from your team members. Plus, while it should be as precise as possible, it should also allow flexibility so you can respond quickly to changes in demand and urgent business needs without breaking a sweat.
So, how can you improve resource planning? And why should you bother? Plus, how does training intake fit into the picture?
Resource Planning for Training Teams
Resource planning is all about maximizing opportunities for efficiency and better outcomes at the operational level of your training team. It’s about coordinating resources and allocating them in the most efficient way possible between projects. Other terms for this process include resource allocation and resource management.
Resource planning involves two main phases: analysis of existing (and needed) resources, followed by the allocation of those resources to a training project schedule. During the analysis phase, it’s imperative to define and understand the capacity of your training team along with an inventory of the skills available on your team.
Next, you’ll define your training project schedule through careful analysis of the skills and personnel hours required for each project or ongoing task. What you’re trying to avoid here is:
- Overscheduling team members with high-demand skills onto too many projects at once
- Unexpected spends on temp contracts
- Forgetting to cover the hours needed for ongoing administrative tasks in the department
Proper resource planning helps your team make the most of personnel hours, skill sets, and budgets to avoid the underutilization or overutilization of resources. It’s also about developing optimal timelines for different projects based on efficient resource allocation.
Building Training Intake Processes That Work
Building out the capacity and resource inventory of your training team may be time-consuming, but all the information is at your fingertips. Where things get complicated is in the allocation process. After all, to correctly allocate resources, you need to understand the needs and demands of each training project first, right?
But, too often, this isn’t the case. So training projects are kicked off only for the team to realize the requirements are much more complex or time consuming than initially thought. Or the deadline is unrealistic, so specific skill sets needed for subsequent projects get stuck as team members struggle to catch up. Learning leaders end up watching all their carefully laid plans turn into abject chaos.
Not only that, but this type of disorganization can result in subpar learning experiences as the training team finds themselves in a constant cycle of “keeping up.” With no space for proper planning, creativity, execution, and reflection, your instructional designers cannot hope to produce courses to the quality they would surely prefer.
That’s where training intake can really help your team (and your resource allocation process) shine. Building a thorough training intake workflow helps to avoid all those nasty surprises that result in the above-mentioned chaos. You can structure training request forms from business partners to gather as much information as you need before analyzing each request, scheduling projects, and proceeding to kick-off.
Ask your requesters for:
- Type of training required
- Training format suggestions
- The business need prompting the request
- Learning audience profile and size
- Skills/competencies to be learned from the course
- Existing content/resources that can be incorporated
And that’s just to name a few. All these elements and more will need to be explored at some stage in the game. But by building these types of questions into the initial training request form, you can get the answers you need much earlier on in the process.
If in doubt, just list all the things that have come up during training project kick-offs that have surprised your training team and changed the project requirements. If they are things that could have been established during the initial request, make sure they end up on your new training request form.
Now that you have a high level picture of the requirements for each upcoming training project, you’ll be in a much better position to assess how the projects should be scheduled and the resource requirements of each one.
Training Project Schedules and Resource Planning
Resource management takes a little bit more expertise than blindly assigning instructional designers and SMEs to whatever training project comes up next. Making the most out of your team and their individual skill sets requires careful planning and precise execution of those plans.
While most training teams will have some form of training project schedule, it’s not always formulated to make the most out of their time and individual expertise. And it’s this lack of analysis that leads to wasted or underutilized resources.
So how can you align training project schedules to make the most out of your resources? The short answer is to get handy with a spreadsheet. Resource allocation can be somewhat automated somewhat, but getting granular is the only true way to make the most out of your available resources.
Start with a team schedule that accounts for everyone’s time before adding in any planned leave or upcoming staff turnover or leave. Now that you’ve blocked off availability of personnel hours, it’s time to add in those skill sets.
For example, if only one of your team members has exceptional graphic design skills and they’re always in high demand, it’s essential that you don’t schedule multiple content-heavy training projects concurrently. If you do, you’ll run the risk of missed deadlines when your graphic designer is run off their feet trying to keep up with all of those projects at once.
When you start to carefully consider skills, hours, and budget while devising your team’s schedule and workload, you’ll soon start to reap the rewards of improved productivity and, ultimately, improved learning experiences.
Proper resource management and allocation is more akin to a science than an artform. But it’s also essential for retaining a certain level of flexibility. By carefully developing the way you manage training team resources, you can be sure of your plans while staying agile enough to respond to unexpected change.
Need a new gameplan for your L&D team? Register for this webinar:
The New L&D Gameplan: How to Safeguard Against Uncertainty in Uncertain Times