Here’s a common workplace situation: A manager senses there’s a performance problem with some of his employees related to a certain task. He wants to resolve the problem, so he heads over to the training department and requests a new training module for such-and-such, hoping to get the employees back on track.

As the training designer, what do you do next? Assess the request and its level of merit? Jump right in and start building? Whether you work in a training department of fifty or one, you should have a solid process in place for handling training requests. Trust me, it will help make your life much easier and, more important, will help you avoid creating unnecessary training.

Collect Information Pertaining to the Training Request

Meet with the training requestor

The first thing you should do is meet with the person who is requesting the training. Don’t take every request for training at face value; you should always meet with the requestor, assess the situation, and reveal the merit of their request by asking them some key questions about their training need.

Have the requestor complete a training request form

One of the best ways to collect information about a training request is through a training request form. Send one to the person requesting the training and have them complete it. Often, simply by answering your questions, a training requestor will realize that training is not the right solution! In other cases, the requestor can’t be bothered to take a few minutes to complete these questions. In either case, you’ve probably saved yourself time and effort.

You want to focus your questions on specific tasks and on how you can observe and measure change in the performance related to those tasks. Here’s an example of a training request form you can send to your stakeholders:

Complete a Training Needs Analysis

Once you’ve received a completed training request form, your next step is to complete a training needs analysis. This will involve analyzing the specific tasks mentioned in the training request form to identify whether there is actually a performance gap (that is, a difference between expected performance and actual performance). If the answer is yes, you’ll need to identify whether the performance gap can be resolved by training. Training can only resolve a performance issue that’s caused by a lack of knowledge and skills. If the cause of the issue is lack of motivation or capacity, technical issues, or something else, training will not have an impact on the issue.

Here are a few more articles to help you with the training needs analysis process:

Calculate the Cost-Benefit

Once you’ve identified that there is indeed a training need, you should conduct a cost-benefit analysis to identify your return on investment (ROI) and to develop a training solution. You might discover that a two-hour, level-1 e-learning module won’t give you a good return, but that a simple three-page job aid will suffice and provide a better value. You want to be able to prove that the work you do is worthwhile to your organization and is saving them time and money.

Here are a few key articles to help you demonstrate the value of your training, and calculate its cost-benefit.

So the next time you get a training request, follow these three steps: collect information about the request, analyze the need for training, and calculate the cost-benefit. You’re sure to maximize the effectiveness of your training programs, and minimize the chance of creating unnecessary or unhelpful training for your organization. What process do you follow when you get a training request? Do you do any steps I didn’t mention? Let me know in the comments!

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Laura Buell

This is exactly what we are doing in our company, thank you! We are trying to formalize it since no process existed, and it bears striking resemblance to the outline here. Having been in the industry almost 30 years now, I have strong opinions from lessons learned on this topic. One lesson would be to define the number of reviews the SME has and give guidance on what they should focus during the review, else they take every opportunity to make substantive changes up to the very last second. For example, early reviews can have lots of wordsmithing and content changes, but the last review should keep that to a minimum so you can focus on making the course work as intended. I especially make it clear when the technical reviewer should focus on "is the text accurate" instead of changing desig... Expand

Nicole Legault
Carmelo Moschella

Hi All, Thanks Nicole for this great article. And Laura is spot on about SME reviews. Every project I have worked on the stakeholders (who are usually the SMEs) constantly want to add more content to the build once it has started and the course shell/layout has been approved . It is all about educating the stakeholders at the onset of the project. Articulate is perfect for rapid prototyping course builds. Once the basic course is built it can be demonstrated (as Laura said above) And I agree it is best to have a SLA in place, I always add a clause about "variations (Additions/ changes) that any will lead to project creep and a risk of delayed delivery. if a change is deemed necessary after initial sign off I create additional documents that outline every change and then pro... Expand