4 Tips to Keep Your Custom Training Programs Fresh
March 28, 2018
So, you have a shiny new training program custom-built for you. Hopefully, you designed it with an eye for growth. Even so, if there’s one thing you can count on with custom training programs and off-the-shelf alike, it’s change.
Just like you, we continue to learn with every training program we build and support. In this article, we’ll share some best practices and suggest some tips to make maintaining your training program more resource- and cost-efficient.
Let’s get started!
Relax – Change is Normal
First things first – it’s totally normal to need to update your customs training programs to keep them fresh. Your audience is constantly changing, tackling new projects and procedures, and counting on you to help them stay ahead of the curve. That’s in addition to changes because of:
- New products and services
- Updated information or data
- Expanded audience (new roles, departments, etc.)
- Corporate branding changes
- Audience survey results
Does coordinating all this take time and resources? You bet. Can it be confusing? Sometimes.
That’s why the best plan is to have a plan. And a partner that cares about the quality and cost-effectiveness of your program — from an agreement, through pilot, launch, and maintenance.
1. Start By Asking Great Questions
So what happens when you need to update your custom training programs? Who owns the edits – you or your vendor? What about the more technical stuff – like videos and animations?
Once you have a list of required changes, break it down into manageable parts. Let’s unpack some key questions and explore some options.
- What types of changes are needed? Do you need simple text and graphics updates, or something bigger like new video footage and updated animations? Identify and group them by type.
- What’s the general scope of each set of changes? At this stage, just guesstimate. We like to use t-shirt sizes like extra-small, small, medium, large, and extra-large.
- Which changes are urgent and which can wait? Decide which changes you need to fast-track, and which can be bundled into a larger program update.
- Which changes can be handled in-house? You may be able to handle some revisions with your internal team. If any changes require specialized skills or software tools, make sure you have those resources available when you need them.
- Where do you need outside help? Identify the gaps, whether due to timing conflicts, team capacity, or in-house skills and technology and look for a vendor who can help you move quickly. If you choose a vendor other than the one who created the original content, there may be a learning curve.
2. Plan Your Strategy
There are many ways to freshen up your training program, and your approach will likely vary depending on timing and resources. As you plan your strategy, keep the following option in mind:
- In-house Maintenance – You can always keep updates in-house, e.g. text edits, image swaps, etc., as long as the right resources and software are available.
- Bundled Changes – Maybe you’re applying changes after a pilot program or know you’d like to engage with a vendor on a regular basis (say, twice a year or annually) to make revisions. Bundled changes are the way to go! Your team can keep a running list of changes, and you can work with your vendor to ensure availability and understand the scope.
- Ad Hoc Changes – This option is perfect if you don’t have a set pilot or when you know the changes will be unpredictable and urgent. Or maybe it’s a “both-and” situation, and you’ll need ad hoc changes in addition to your bundled revisions. Protecting a team with a retainer can be expensive, but it ensures that those high-value changes can be made at any time.
3. Estimate Your Cost
How much will all this cost? Honestly, it depends on the scope of the changes and the approach you take. (Check out this article that dives deeper into how much custom training costs.)
You’ll probably need some cost estimates in the early stages of planning. If you know which services and deliverables will be required, the chart below may help.
|Training Deliverable||Relevant Cost|
|Job Aid, Workbook, or an Interactive Learning Guide||$|
|Instructor-led or Virtual Instructor-led Training||$$|
|Live Action Video||$$$|
4. Follow Best Practices
Once you’ve identified and prioritized your program changes and estimated costs, follow these best practices to ensure your updates go smoothly.
- Make a plan and follow it – There’s no set rule for how often you need to update your training program. We recommend that you set up a formal schedule of when to review your program and make any needed updates, but also be aware of how often you may run into the need for ad hoc changes. The more you know, right?
- Collect feedback – Ask your trainers and employees what they think about the program. Review surveys and polls; you might even run a new survey before each scheduled update to gather feedback from multiple areas.
- Rotate different sections of your program – If your training program encompasses multiple departments or disciplines, you may want to rotate the updates, depending on complexity. For example, Sales and Customer Service may be on your regular schedule, while changes impacting field technicians may be alternated.
- Document your process – If the processes you’ve created work well for you, document them. Use what you come up with throughout your updates and training program iterations.
- Include maintenance in your original agreement – If you can, plan for change early. It’s inevitable. Don’t wait until you need changes to start working on a maintenance plan. Whether you’re creating the entire program in-house or partnering with a custom training provider, include a maintenance plan from the beginning.
Whether you need a new custom training program built from the ground up or need some help updating your existing programs, the Unboxed training team is available to discuss, strategize, and help coordinate updates when you’re ready.
Just don’t wait until training program updates become the 900-lb gorilla in the room.