Why Training Intake Processes Are Letting L&D Down

Why Training Intake Processes Are Letting L&D Down
Summary: Training creation isn't time-consuming because of content design. It's the upstream processes that are largely neglected that slow down the development of learning and L&D's response to organizational demand for training.

Reworking Your Training Intake Processes

The new normal of working (and collaborating) from home has highlighted some gaps in the learning development process. Although these silos and bottlenecks have been slowing down training teams all the while, frozen budgets, remote learning, and remote collaboration have thrown them into the spotlight. And it’s not in the traditionally time-consuming areas of learning development that you might think, such as content design. It’s right up there at the front end when the training request first lands in your inbox or when you’re distributing L&D resources across multiple training projects.

Training intake needs a serious makeover, and here’s why:

Ad-Hoc Training Requests

Where do you receive requests for training? For lots of training teams, it happens all over the place: in meetings, via email and chat, and even as people walk by your L&D team members in the hallway.

How much information is provided in those requests? Maybe a vague idea of the training topic, no profile of the learners involved, and no mention of how the business impact of this new training could be measured.

Is training even what is needed in each instance? Who knows, you’ll probably have to schedule a meeting and piece together a lot of details to find out. Oh wait, after a lot of digging, it turns out this training course already exists!

When training intake is spread out over multiple channels with no coherent workflow, it takes up a lot of precious time. Even training teams who already use standardized training request forms are often missing out on capturing details that mean you can easily redirect misguided training requests. These details include:

  • The challenge or need that is prompting the request
  • The type of training preferred (eLearning, Instructor-Led, etc.)
  • Any positive business outcomes expected once training is complete
  • Who will be taking the training
  • Specific skills or competencies that will be learned
  • Are there any existing courses or training materials related to the topic/need
  • How the learning outcomes will be measured for effectiveness

By the way, where are you storing and distributing that training request form? This brings us to the next point...

The Learning Tech Stack

Aside from authoring tools and delivery systems like LMSs, it seems L&D often settles for tools and software that are not purpose-built for their needs. So, when it comes to things like training request forms, training intake data, and training project overviews, it can be a scattered mix of online form generators, spreadsheets, and project management software.

The result is learning leaders struggle to keep track of what their department is currently working on and to accurately assign resources to different projects. For the training team, it can mean feeling overwhelmed with training requests and struggling to keep up with demand.

For an industry that has made leaps and bounds in adopting new technology and improving other processes like content design, this is one area that has gone pretty much untouched. But it’s also an area of the training development process that has tons of room for streamlining and improving how it is managed.

By auditing your existing tech stack and finding the gaps in processes and workflows such as training intake, Learning and Development teams can work on the right projects, at the right time, with the right resources.

Data Tracking And Training Metrics

Another area where current training intake processes let L&D down is the collecting, analyzing, and modeling of training intake data. Once you standardize your approach to training intake (that is, training requests and intake all coming in through one channel and under the same parameters each time), gathering and interpreting the data becomes much easier.

But why do it? Training intake data can help to surface and close skills gaps, understand the needs and demand for training in the organization, and better analyze existing resources.

Examples of helpful metrics you can extract from training intake data include:

Training Request Acceptance Rate

If a high percentage of training requests do not lead to new course development, this can tell you that:

  • Your training team needs extra resources to keep up with the learning demand.
  • Performance Management issues are leading to training requests when training is not the answer to the underlying issue.
  • There is insufficient promotion of existing learning experiences, so employees or business partners are asking for training that already exists.

These reasons will vary from one organization to another, and you can assess further by assigning standardized terms to the reason for declining or redirecting a training request. For example, “training already exists” or “not a training issue” or “training team is at capacity.”

Training Requests By Business Function

Perhaps a particular team or department has been feeling a little neglected when it comes to learning experiences relevant to their roles. In that case, you might spot a trend of specific business functions requesting more training than others. Or, on the flip side of that coin, perhaps there is an area of the organization that never seems to request training or new learning experiences.

But remember, you won’t be able to nail down either one of these unless you’re capturing and recording the data right at the training request level.

Training Priority Level

Very few learning organizations can fulfill all the requested or needed learning requirements that are asked for at a given time. It takes a strategic assessment of each proposed new learning experience against the capacity of the training team to decide which training project to take on first.

By assigning a priority level to each training request and project, learning leaders can more effectively direct resources toward projects with the most urgent business need.

Capacity Planning And Resource Management

When it comes to fighting for increased headcount, contractors, or new technology to streamline processes, these are the metrics to show your execs:

  • What are the current demands on your training team and what is their capacity given your existing resource pool?
  • And what resources are needed to close that gap between demand and capacity?

When the time comes to request more budget or other resources for your L&D department, having a snapshot of concrete capacity figures to show the execs will go a long way.

Reworking your training intake process may not happen overnight, but the results and rewards are well worth the time investment. Learning leaders who focus on these upstream workflows will ensure their team is providing optimal strategic value to the organization and will be using their resources for maximum productivity.