10 Steps to Running a Lean Training Program

Budgets are always under scrutiny. This is especially true for training departments. Growing companies need to prove the worthiness of the programs they run. They simply can’t waste resources. There are a couple of steps you can take to create a lean training strategy. This eliminates waste, gets the most value for each $ spent, and helps to focus on the most valuable training methods. In this post, we share some tips on keeping a training program within a lean budget while maximizing its impact.

1. Choose an LMS with no implementation or hidden fees

Always know exactly what your learning management system (LMS) will cost your company. The process of choosing an LMS can be tricky, with hundreds of options available to you. Large upfront fees are thankfully less common than they were. It begs the question what exactly does an implementation fee cover in 2018? Your LMS is probably cloud-based and so ‘implementation’ isn’t even accurate. And then there are hidden fees. The last thing you want is for an extra cost to appear unexpectedly. Our advice is to get the vendor to explicitly map out the costs involved. That way you’ll know that the number won’t change.

2. Leverage an active user LMS

An active user model is different to a pricing model that focuses on seats or user count. An active user is someone who logs into the LMS during a certain period (usually a month). Your subscription allows you to have a certain amount of active users. This changes the way you think about your user numbers. If your max number of ‘active users’ is 100, that’s not equal to your employee count. The number of people that need to be trained is always in flux. A certain percentage of employees will be on sabbatical, maternity or paternity leave, or not involved in specific training programs.
(also, as per point number 1. Find out what happens when your user count goes slightly over your active user count. It’s best not to get a nasty surprise.)

3. Use the trial as a pilot

When you’re choosing an LMS, use the trial period to run a pilot course. This helps solidify your choice but it also gives you a head start on your training. This pilot shines a light on wasteful activities before you even start paying for the LMS. And it helps you sharpen your focus on where you can eliminate spending.

4. Don’t print anything

This is a simple one. Try to not print any materials. Learners are able to access materials using their device of choice. They probably don’t need another stack of paper on their desk. It not only reduces printing costs, it’s also better for the environment – an extra bonus.

5. Don’t get caught up in hype/buzzword features

If a feature solves a challenge you have, great! But look at each feature with a practical eye. For example, training in VR is something that is often touted as the next best thing. However, it’s just not a viable option for the masses yet. Think along the lines of ‘What is the benefit and how much does it cost?’. You should be sure on the benefit of features before investing in them. In a similar vein, are you using all the features available to you? If you are paying for them, use them! And if they don’t add value, you can always drop them.

6. Do you actually need an authoring tool?

An authoring tool creates more interactive content than the course creation tools built into the LMS. That doesn’t mean that you actually need to purchase a license for one straight away. Before you spend another $1000 weigh up whether or not you actually need the polish that a tool like Captivate or Storyline provides. Get familiar with the tools built into the LMS, the experience the learner will have and the reports that are generated. Lot’s of organizations are surprised with what can be achieved.

7. Use pre-existing content

In a previous post, we detailed how you should convert pre-existing materials into course content. Documents, presentations, video and audio files can be uploaded to the LMS and used as building blocks for your next course. This reduces the burden of creating everything from scratch. You’ll be amazed at the number of assets you have to hand already. You can update modules easily allowing you to iterate over time.

8. Embed videos from YouTube

Did you know that you can embed content from sites like YouTube directly into your courses? An often overlooked cost-cutter, this opens up a vast library of content for you to use. We love to add TED talks or lectures to courses to give a rich experience for the learner. As long as it’s well-curated, this is a great way to add relevant content to your training – and for free!

9. Do you actually need a graphic designer?

If you think you need a graphic designer to brand your organization’s LMS, think again. Most LMSs have easy branding options that make your LMS portal look the part. All you’ll need are your company’s logos and colors. Ask the LMS vendor the specific sizes and dimensions required. There are lots of tools available that can help you to create great images for course content too.LMS branding

10. CSV uploads are an alternative to integrations

To upload and maintain records for large numbers of employees you’ll need to integrate with your HR system, or CRM, right?  It is certainly the most efficient way to manage users, but sometimes a CSV upload will work just as well. A CSV file is a plain text version of an excel file. This file is used to upload lists of information into systems like an LMS or a HR system. The ‘list’ will have profile information of each user. Download the CSV from your HR system and then upload it to create and maintain a user list.

A lean training machine

These steps help you to focus on what really matters without reducing the effectiveness of your training. The key is to start small and avoid waste. Over time you’ll identify the areas that would benefit from a little more investment. Perhaps in year 2 or 3 you can add some features or upgrade the quality of your course content.

Let us know any other steps you have taken to avoid waste in your training programs in the comments section!

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