Monday, July 5, 2010

Consultation/Training Needs Analysis checklist

These are some thought-starter questions and by no means an exhaustive list...part of an exercise in my attempt to collate my scattered bits of writing...

I have found the questions below useful to ask when analyzing an organization's readiness/need for e-learning. I have jotted them down as they occurred to me and are in no ways very refined. These will need several iterations to reach some measure of perfection...

The Pre-Training/Consultation/Training Needs Analysis checklist could be something like this:

1. What is the nature of the business the organization is in?
2. What is the strength of the organization?
3. Is the organization globally spread?
4. Is there a stated training need, i.e., has clear areas of performance gaps been identified by the LoB manager/training department?
5. How is this “improvement in performance” perceived to impact the organization’s bottom line?
6. Can this training requirement be fulfilled by e-learning alone? If not, what could be the other possible solutions?
7. What is the organization’s current mode of training and how “successful” has it been? What is the gap that is being sought to be fulfilled.

If e-learning is a viable option, then it is important to find out:

1. Has the organization experienced e-learning before?
2. Will employees get sufficient support from the organization to take the courses?
3. Does the top management believe in or is willing to open up to the e-learning approach?

If there are no defined training needs but a general feeling from the top management that some improvements are required, the situation becomes tougher. This is when IDs have to become consultants and solution architects. This would require a deep dive into the processes, current training scenarios, the pain points that need to be bridged.

What makes analyzing difficult is the complicated issue of measuring ROI. It is not really possible to do a one-on-one mapping of a training program—be it e-learning, ILT, blended, etc.—with the performance. I’ll keep that as a new topic of discussion…

The learning solution must be effective enough within a constrained budget and time-line. We all know what we could do if we had more time, if the client opened his wallet a bit more, and all other ideal situations. However, our consultancy and design thinking skills comes to the forefront when we can deliver effective programs within the defined constraints.

This is where, as consultants, we have to blend project planning with solution thinking. I believe such challenges force us to think creatively and out of the box to come up with better time and cost effective solutions.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. What are some of the specific challenges you have faced? How did you overcome them? What were some of the creative measures adopted? What key questions are missing from the list?

3 comments:

  1. I think it is important to establish their willingness to allow you, as a consultant,to conduct a needs analysis. Including access to the staff that may have the potential learning needs, subject matter experts, supervisors, etc. So often orgs. hire consultants, but want to tell us what the needs are and what the content should be without conducting any needs analysis themselves.

    Thanks for the list

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  2. I've learned the hard way that you also need to find out if everyone meets the technical requirements to view and interact with the e-learning and what kind of technical support the learners will have if they have problems.

    Also, finding out how frequently the content will change or need to be updated is pretty important. Not only can this impact the success of the e-learning but it may mean the client should be charged differently than an organization with very static content.

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  3. Thank you for the comments. I agree that it is very important for the success of the consulting engagement and to actually bring about any change to get the buy in of all concerned--management, cost client and end users or those who will be most impacted by the change. From my experience, I can say that it is a bad idea to work with the management only. The consultant must make it a point to talk to all concerned.

    And the point about flux in content is extremely critical. I am in the middle of a project with exactly that kind of a situation. The planning for such a project is entirely different from one where the content is static and only needs to be transformed to a different media or format.

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