You just landed a consulting job helping a company ramp up their new-hire training. You’ll be the one-stop shop for creating onboarding materials. How exciting! It’s a big-name client and you’re eager to start. You sit down to begin your needs analysis and you freeze—not only are you missing a project budget, but there’s no timeline or list of stakeholders. You don’t even have a style guide, much less contact information for someone in the marketing department to get one. Where did you go wrong? You’re positive the analysis stage of ADDIE is the right place to start. But if that’s right, why are you missing key information?

If you’ve ever reached for the ADDIE model and found it’s not enough, you know the scenario I described intimately. Although it’s a tried-and-true method, the ADDIE model is lacking a core piece of any project—planning. Enter PADDIE, the ADDIE model with planning! But why PADDIE? And what are some of the key things that should happen in the planning stage? This article will discuss just that.


I’ve always thought ADDIE was the weak link in an otherwise robust group of instructional design methodologies. Over the course of my career I’ve found its linear stages restrictive and its lack of planning frustrating. I’ve never been able to successfully launch a project straight from the analysis phase. At a minimum, you need to know what you’re analyzing and your basic project parameters before kicking off! 

As a new instructional designer, there were a few times I ended up in hot water because I didn’t realize how crucial planning was. No one told me to do a deeper dive into the project background before starting the analysis. Learn from my mistakes and include a robust planning stage up front.

What to Include in the Planning Stage

When you first kick off a project, there are certain things you need in order to be successful. Without this information, you’ll miss project milestones, blow your budget, and probably frustrate your stakeholders. Let’s take a look at key items to nail down in the planning stages of your project to ensure everything goes smoothly. 

  • Agree on a project timeline and deliverables. Once you get your deadline from the client and agree on key delivery dates, you’ll commit to what will be delivered on those dates and who to send the deliverables to. You can also use this to solicit buy-in from subject matter experts and get everyone involved to commit to the timeline. 
  • Review your project budget and plan accordingly. Compare the amount of money the client can spend to the time it’ll take to complete the project. If the hours to complete the project exceed their budget, go back to the client and negotiate course features—such as length. Looking at this up front is a great way to ensure the project is feasible.
  • Talk to your stakeholders or reviewers and agree on a chain of command. It’s not always clear who should review your project deliverables —like scripts and storyboards—or in what order. By defining the order in which people will review—and who gets final say—you’ll save time in the review stages and ensure you prioritize the right feedback. 
  • Identify additional resources and where to get them. Do you need to use a course template the client provides? Is there a style guide to follow? Who provides this information? Knowing what additional information you need and requesting it from the right person is key to staying on track!

While these are all great considerations for the planning stage, there are definitely other things to keep in mind. I’ve found the more I know, the smoother my project goes. So make sure to keep an eye out for additional information that can help you.


Hopefully you’re feeling confident about your course design process and see the value of including a planning phase up front! If you’d like additional information on ADDIE or other instructional design methodologies and theories, check out the links below: 

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