Running training and development for organizations of any size is an often overlooked function. After all, isn’t there a department that’s responsible for taking care of that? I mean, isn’t the plan simple? Trainers train, learners learn… and then we’re good to go?
Well, not quite.
In this post:
- Developing a Strategy: The Blueprint for Learning Operations Success
- Planning for Scope
- Setting Objectives and Expectations
- Seek and Instruct: Selecting Trainers
- Managing Learning Operations on the Administrative Side
- Taking Control of Your Learning Operations
Think of training and development goals for employees or just members of any organization as a campaign within the wider campaign of the organization’s goals. Where a company aims to provide a remarkable top-tier product or service, they need well-trained professionals to help deliver that to their market. How should L&D or T&D divisions handle this “training campaign”? Enter the world of Learning Operations.
“Learn Ops” as some call it is a relatively new term that has entered the L&D space among training professionals. What exactly is “Learn Ops” aside from a cool-sounding commando-inspired name? It is the comprehensive list of functions that goes into the development of learning content, creation of instructor-led training events, management of the training budget, the measurement of the learners’ results, and the pursuit of making the learning experience better, faster, and more engaging the next time.
L&D professionals have been too focused on the what as opposed to the how of providing engaging learning experiences that deliver results. What L&D teams need to perfect isn’t the material they’ll provide for training clients or their own organization but instead creating an effective operations strategy with the trainee as the focus of attention.
Developing a Strategy: The Blueprint to Learning Operations Success
With the client as the focus for L&D teams, learning operations should then focus on what needs to be done for the learner to succeed.
A needs analysis has been the ultimate checklist for L&D providers as it maps out what components are needed for a successful learning campaign.
For clients, L&D teams should seek and observe the following:
- Areas of weak skill performance
- Effectiveness of learning strategies
- Effectiveness of teaching strategies
- Organizational wants
- Learner needs
When an L&D team knows the learner, then they know how to guide the learning operations strategy to both the client’s success and the learning team.
Collaborate with leaders in the organization of your training or senior leaders in your L&D team to discuss how the implementation of a new learning operations strategy might affect them. Be sure to be fully transparent about what is needed from both parties and address their pain points. A fully transparent discussion is the best stepping stone to a well-designed operational strategy.
Planning for Scope
Learning ops starts with understanding the scope of your L&D team and the training client. The scope for a learning operations strategy should be precise on what areas the L&D team will focus on and to what extent.
The key aspect of planning for scope is that training administration teams should focus on areas that provide the best value in the learning operations plan for the learner and will not drain resources from the L&D team as a whole.
In planning their scope, L&D should focus on the following areas:
- Event management
- Course creation
- Content management
- Instructor selection and management
- Compliance and quality assurance
- Learning technology administration
Setting Objectives and Expectations
After a field of play is established, L&D will need to establish what they hope to accomplish for themselves and the learner.
After they’ve planned the inputs into what the training programs will entail, they’ll need to focus on how their strategy will be an agent for change to the learner.
Areas of focus on the team’s learner objectives can include:
- Cause and effect of strategies implemented
- Alignment of organization goals with learner goals
- Short and long-term goal completion for key areas of development
- Measuring ROI of the learning
In planning for a successful learning operation, teams shall set milestones within overall learning objectives. Learner expectations should be measured as a metric of success if the scope aims to address critical issues with the learner’s problems.
Seek and Instruct: Selecting Trainers
Course instructors are the driving force to a successful learning operation and are the champions of making those learning objectives a reality.
Whether you label them as trainers or subject matter experts, the instructors you choose for your courses will be the “make it or break it factor” for your training goals. Even in an increasingly digitized world, instructor-led training, whether in-person or virtual, has been the gold standard in providing quality learning experiences that deliver results.
Why is instructor-led training the preferred method of providing training?
Instructor-led training (ILT) helps learners develop comprehension and proficiency faster than any other training delivery method. When learners have a qualified and experienced instructor guiding them through the course material, they have a better understanding of key concepts and have the ability to ask questions on difficult subjects. The result? Learners will feel more confident in applying new skills in non-training scenarios.
Of course, this isn’t to say we’re axing the learning methods that have been making a big gain in learner ROI. Regardless of how you choose to deliver training courses within your learning operations strategy, you’ll always find the root of successful learning by applying the right trainer.
Instructor management requires L&D teams to play matchmaker: Picking and choosing which instructors are the best fit for the job based on a variety of variables.
What should L&D managers look for when assigning instructors to training sessions? L&D specialists must look for several criteria, including;
- In-person or online instruction preference
- Certifications and qualifications
- Years of experience
- Language of instruction
- Ratings by both peer instructors and prior students
- Learning methods implemented
- Blended learning capability
Managing Learning Operations on the Administrative Side
Learning Ops is very much a double-edged sword.
On one side, the operational strategy is focused on providing training that produces an ROI based on new skills mastered or increased proficiency for learners.
On the other, L&D must focus on how the strategy can best serve the team without sacrificing too much for the learner.
L&D professionals must question their strategy and also ask how it can help to better plan, execute, and manage the functions needed for a learning operation without exhausting resources. The success of learning operations rests not only on L&D professionals and their processes but most importantly the tools they use. For most training professionals, the administrative side of all aspects has been managed by spreadsheets.
No matter how organized and detailed the process may be, the issue of having an entire training operation rest in multiple spreadsheets results in hours of administrative work by the L&D team. Across dozens of spreadsheets for several training programs, specialists must constantly play a game of “connect the dots” to ensure everything is moving correctly. From pairing the right trainer to an ILT course to tracking budgetary spending to ensuring training certifications are done within the time frame. Now, multiply that by the number of learners in any course or client program. While it can work, it’s absolutely not efficient.
Taking Control of Your Learning Operations
Crafting the blueprint for the ideal learning operations strategy is only just the beginning for L&D directors as they aim to upskill and reskill their learners with speed and efficiency. What can L&D teams do to better plan and deliver for their clients? Having the right system that provides the right framework to manage every aspect of learning operations.
Training Orchestra provides a comprehensive learning operations system that comes complete with all the essential tools needed for running large-scale training programs with a high volume of learners. The main benefit that it provides to L&D teams is that it can be easily integrated into one’s current learning operations framework. Everything from your schedules of spreadsheets to your CRM of new clients.
Core components of a robust learning operations system include:
- Course scheduling system
- Instructor selection and management
- Training budget management
- Learner analytics and reporting
The cause and effect of providing an efficient system for executing multiple training programs within your learning operations opens many doors of opportunity for L&D professionals both in-house and outsourced.
With increased bandwidth, L&D professionals can now move away from manual course scheduling in spreadsheets and focus on projects that really matter for training professionals including:
- Increase training business sales
- Continuous improvement for L&D
- Designing new training programs
- Expanding the scope of learning services
As you can see, providing training for organizations is a much larger endeavor than just listening to an instructor. Whether L&D dedicates its time to customer training on products or upskilling partners in an extended enterprise, learning specialists need the right strategy and tools to make their learning operations a success.
About Training Orchestra – Training Operations Management System
For over 20 years, Training Orchestra has helped over 600 training companies, corporate L&D departments, and associations worldwide to address instructor-led training operations management challenges for their client, partner, member, and employee training programs. From virtual and in-person learning instruction to managing hybrid learning operations for global companies, we’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of training businesses and corporate L&D.
Ready to see how you can help your training organization to better manage training as a business? Contact Training Orchestra today to see how you can add efficiency and scale to your training operation today!