As we approach the start of a new year, many companies’ strategic initiatives for 2019 have already been identified and plans to tackle major projects are taking shape. If this is the case in your organization, you might think you’re ready to hit the ground running… but are you sure?

Year after year, companies invest millions of dollars in projects that are doomed to partial success or outright failure because they overlook the importance of proactively developing targeted training and useful documentation to support the achievement of their goals. The right training and support material can make all the difference to the success of an endeavor, boosting tool adoption, adherence to proper protocols, and overall effectiveness of programs… Yet, too often the focus is on reaching a project’s “finish line” and not on ensuring the long-term success of the initiative.

Now that you’ve spent time planning for 2019, ask yourself: “Have we set ourselves up for success, or do we need to rethink how effectively our programs will come to life?”

  • Consider whether new products and services might require training for those creating, using, or delivering them. Is there a plan to provide it?
  • Think about what new systems are being implemented that might require thorough instruction for a user to adequately understand. Has this been arranged?
  • Don’t forget about documentation. Will manuals, process documents, job aids, or other literature need to be created or updated?

If you suspect there’s room for improvement after running through a quick analysis of your 2019 plans, you’re not alone. Despite $87.6 billion having been spent on training in 2018, according to Training Magazine’s 2018 Training Industry Report, developing training and supporting documentation is still often an afterthought for many organizations. The good news is there’s still time to adjust before the new year is upon us.

Where Do You Stand, and Where Do You Want to Be?

The first thing to realize is that throwing together a training program without carefully considering what would make it successful is little more helpful than ignoring training in the first place. Think about how you’re going to measure the impact of any training initiative your organization puts in place to ensure future endeavors are as productive as possible.

At Radcom, we have seen an increase in clients asking for help developing performance-based metrics by which they can measure training programs, and survey data shows this is a strong priority for organizations in general. Start by determining what a strong ROI looks like, and progress from there.

  • Go beyond simple assessment of whether people liked the training, or even whether they learned anything… as important as that may be.
  • Measure how the training is affecting business performance. If a course was created to help a set of people do a specific job in a new/better/different way, did they learn the new skills? Did they change their behaviors? Has the company seen the anticipated results?
  • For example, if you were to pursue customer service training, what dollar value in increased sales or decrease in the number of customer complaints would signify real success? Write goals down, then measure against them.
  • Don’t forget to take benchmark measurements up front: You can’t measure increased effectiveness if you don’t have documentation of where you started.

What Training Delivery Model Makes the Most Sense?

Next, think about how training will be delivered to best help you achieve your 2019 goals. Is it a matter of having an instructor deliver direction in a classroom setting? Are you better off with online or computer-based education? Should you use mobile devices to reach your audience?

Many organizations are determining it makes sense to blend several of the above methodologies. Blended training models (i.e., a combination of multiple information delivery modes for one specific training initiative) doubled in popularity in the past year, according to Training Magazine’s 2018 Training Industry Report, with 69.3 percent of respondents utilizing blended training in 2018 compared to just 34.7 percent in 2017.

  • At Radcom, we’re seeing this trend play out with our clients, too. For example, we recently helped a client develop an onboarding course that included instructor-led, online, self-paced, coaching, and mentoring elements.
  • Consider what tools you have at your disposal, the preferences of your audience and the sustainability of whatever choice you make (e.g., will trainees needs ongoing access to training materials or does a one-off training session make sense?). Then, decide what delivery models will best suit your goals from there.

Who is Going to Carry Out Training?

Finally, if you think additional training will boost your organization’s chances of achieving business goals next year, the next step is to determine where that education will come from. Do you have adequate in-house resources, or do you need external support? The average expenditure for training outsourcing nearly doubled from 2017 ($219,265) to 2018 ($422,321), according to data from those surveyed by Training Magazine, as many organizations are realizing they will get better results by working with professional partners.

Whether you should handle training in-house or via a partner depends on what sort of initiatives you have planned for 2019, what internal experts/tools you have available and what sort of budget can be allocated. Regardless of the decision you make, know that an investment in training (or supporting documentation) is a strong investment in the success of whatever programs you may have planned for 2019.  

Not sure where to start, or need help putting together a training or documentation plan for 2019? Reach out with your questions or to schedule a needs assessment; we’re happy to assist. No matter what your goals, best of luck next year!