Likely a core component of your learning tech stack, the Learning Management System (LMS) struggles to manage Instructor-Led Training (ILT)—it simply wasn’t designed to do so. With ILT likely one of your largest training investments, is there anything you can do about it?
Instructor-Led Training remains one of the most effective training methods, but consumes a large chunk of the training budget. In fact, according to the Brandon Hall Group, it represents 70% of all training. For over 30 years, however, organizations have placed the Learning Management System (LMS) at the core of their learning technology stack for managing their training and learning functions—despite the fact that it was never designed to manage ILT.
So, why do LMSs struggle to manage Instructor-Led Training? And, what can you do?
Understanding Instructor-Led Training Operations
Instructor-Led Training is fundamentally different from elearning: It involves more complex back-office processes and a wider range of strategic resources. As a result, ILT tends to be more costly. One question is crucial in understanding why LMSs fall short in ILT management: What’s most important to you when managing ILT? We recommend learning more about the differences between a Training Management System and Learning Management System.
A successful ILT program generally hinges on the achievement of three core goals:
- Streamlining logistics, scheduling, and administration: Rationalizing back-office processes has a tangible impact on efficiency—every rescheduled session, and hour spent on low-value added tasks, represents a cost and time loss you could avoid.
- Managing resources: One reason ILT tends to be costly is that instructors’ time, travel costs, and classroom capacities are not properly managed. While resource utilization rates generally hover around 50 or 60 percent, efficient organizations should aim for 75 percent.
- Optimizing the budget: Budget optimization, or estimating training ROI, is the No. 1 challenge when managing ILT. This is because ILT involves a wider range of processes and resources than elearning. Appropriate software should help proactively track costs and align the budget with your strategy.
Why Do LMSs Fall Short in Addressing Training Logistics, Administrative, and Financial Challenges?
Back to basics—how do LMSs handle ILT? They generally include the following features:
- Scheduling sessions
- Managing registrations
- Downloading supporting material
- Creating completion records
- Tracking test scores
These features, while helpful, are not optimal in addressing the core ILT goals for four main reasons:
ILT and elearning have different strengths and challenges: ILT’s main strength is its effectiveness (56 percent of organizations find ILT very effective vs. 21 percent for elearning, according to Brandon Hall Group), and its main weakness is lower cost efficiency. Elearning’s main strength is its low cost and flexibility, and its main challenge is delivering engaging, effective training. Considering these radically different challenges, it isn’t surprising that the technologies to address them should be different.
THE ELEARNING MINDSET
The LMS initially is designed to optimize the delivery of online learning, which is why many of the features listed above, such as test score tracking and downloading documents, make sense as extensions of elearning features. So even if an LMS offers some tweaks to manage ILT, its expertise will remain on the delivery rather than the organizational side. Features such as resource management and cost tracking, which are the core of ILT management, will come as peripheral features, if included at all.
OPTIMIZED FOR FRONT-OFFICE INTERACTION, NOT BACK-OFFICE
The unifying theme in LMS features is the focus on front-office interaction with learners—student self-registration, downloading material. These features are not centered on your administrators’ needs. When managing ILT, you want to be thinking about collaboration within your training teams. Visualizing available instructors and resources? Quickly detecting your SME’s skills? Instantly updating training schedules? Accessing session costs in real time? These are all things LMSs are not built to facilitate.
LEARNER-CENTRIC, NOT SESSION-CENTRIC
From a technical point of view, LMS software uses the learner as a building block, not the session. This is not optimal for ILT for which the business logic is driven by the training session. An example is cost distribution: An LMS consolidates cost per learner to define session costs. However, most ILT costs are fixed regardless of the number of learners: room reservation, instructor fee, etc. This is why LMSs struggle to provide accurate cost tracking. It also means LMSs have a hard time planning future investments for which learners are not yet identified by name.
How can you optimize Instructor-Led Training?
- Focus on relevant processes that drive ILT efficiency.
- Maximize resources: Have a clear repository of all your resources and keep track of occupancy rates to optimize session financial efficiency.
- Detect, engage, and manage costly strategic resources: More easily identify and communicate with your SMEs—know who has the skills to train on what subject.
- Rationalize logistics: Plan steps that must happen before, during, and after each training session; communicate which team should be responsible for each step, and track task completion.
- Track costs: Consolidating accurate data is capital for budget optimization. This can only be done by tracking investments across different business units, countries, and currencies.
- Create a proactive training plan and monitor progress: Use precise forecasts of training volume and costs to plan long-term, and track improvement of key performance indicators (KPIs) year after year.
- Improve collaboration and data-sharing: Get rid of spreadsheets and encourage collaborative tools to ensure logistics, scheduling, and financial processes integrate seamlessly.
- Fit technology to your learning mix.
Technology should fit your learning delivery, which should fit your goals—highest effectiveness, lowest cost, flexibility?—and type of training. The key is to get a good understanding of available technologies:
- Home-grown systems provide a system tailored to your needs, but take a lot of time and resources to put in place and are hard to maintain.
- LMSs are specialized in elearning management.
- Training Resource Management Systems are specialized in ILT management.
As much as we’d like to believe it, “one-size-fits-all” training software does not yet exist. ILT is not elearning, and cannot be optimally managed with the same tools. There are many ways to create an efficient learning technology environment: All of them involve understanding the core differences between each training delivery method.
Training Management Software – A Complement to Your LMS
A Training Management System like Training Orchestra is a great place to start. Dedicated to the entire training ecosystem: Training Departments, Corporate Universities, Extended Enterprises and Training Companies, Training Orchestra helps 600+ organizations worldwide manage their instructor-led training operations and over $6B in training budgets. Training Orchestra can help you optimize classroom training operations by increasing resource use, optimizing session and resource scheduling, controlling costs, and by making the most of time and resources.
In addition to these features, Training Orchestra has easy, out-of-the-box integration with the LMS, as well as quick integration with other HR systems such as the Learning Experience Platform (LXP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Human Resources Information System (HRIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning Systems (ERP).
Contact us to learn more or to talk about your project. We’re happy to help!