What Are the “Logistics of Learning”?

Logistics of learning is defined as the processes related to the planning, procurement, delivery, and management of training programs and their associated resources. Learning specialists and coordinators are primarily responsible in ensuring that the needs of the training program are met for all primary stakeholders including trainers & instructors, the organization requesting training, and most importantly, the learners.

No, we don’t mean “learning logistics” in the sense that you actually learn the fundamentals of logistics related to trade and supply chain management. But on a side note, we actually did create a case study on the importance of learning logistics and how to manage it (for those in the profession, of course).

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why is logistics ignored among learning teams

The Lack of Logistics: The Issue with Learning

Whether your an internal corporate L&D team or a training provider hired to upskill an organization, the logistics managing training sessions and schedules is always taken for granted. Even for the most seasoned chief learning officers and training administrators, the regular functions of training can be a mere afterthought after the course has been developed and an instructor assigned. Training administrators in the back-office are too focused on what will make the course successful. They focus on the right subject material, the learning material that’ll be provided for that course, and even what exciting new learning software to use to make it exciting for the learner.
What L&D professionals aren’t paying attention to are the small back-end functions that make courses a success because they aren’t given the attention they deserve. From the reservations made for conference rooms to providing equipment for on-site training to even the coffee that’ll be served once learners meet their trainers. All of these components that involve careful coordination are critical in making one session a success.
When L&D teams prioritize the logistics of learning just as much as training design, only then can they unlock their full potential as administrators. Prioritizing how training gets delivered from conception to classroom will allow all members of the learning team to find innovate solutions that create more bandwidth and efficiency.

managing training logistics

A Tale of Two Methods: “Bad” and “Better” Training Management

Bad Training Management

A global organization is looking to prepare over 4,000 employees for work across 300 locations worldwide. As a result of this enterprise level rollout learning and development team members are responsible for developing training programs to both onboard new employees and to reskill seasoned professionals. The director of talent development and head of human resources are optimistic as are the training managers in the learning team as they get ready to provide the most comprehensive training program for their global workforce.

The onboarding training program for associates consists of 25 total sessions delivered via instructor-led training at both corporate and partner offices.  The reskilling program for managerial roles consists of a hybrid mix of 12 in-person training workshops in additional 5 virtual instructor-led training sessions. Both training programs utilize a variety of online and eLearning training modules to help guide the course.

Rolling out the full hybrid learning course for the corporation proves to be much different than the planning stages of it. The corporation juggles with having key subject-matter experts attend training sessions at various locations. At three of the partner locations, it’s embarrassingly revealed that the assigned trainers don’t speak the same language as the learners.

To make matters worse, key resources including new tablets to review learning material and conference room chairs are missing. Later on, it’s found that the issue for the missing equipment was due to a miscommunication between the coordinators responsible for accounting and resourcing. Before another issue is brought to the talent director, the CEO realizes how stalled the issues have been with L&D and pauses the hiring phase for the year.

poor training management logistics

better management of training

Better Training Management

Towards the end of the second quarter, the internal L&D team collaborated with their stakeholders in human resources and received feedback from learners. Both the learning director and training managers have agreed that while the learning material within each session is solid training material, the agree that a majority of the issues came from the planning stage. Since the planning stage was poorly handled the execution of the learning activities was also poor. 

To resolve the issue, the chief learning officer and other coordinators review the systems and processes involved and come to a consensus. To make the administrative side of learning easier, they agree to have more visibility and connection between sources of information. The key information — training session dates, course session details, instructor profiles, and training costs — all live on different spreadsheets and some on no spreadsheet at all. Regardless, the chief learning officer is determined to make it work. He assigns a learning coordinator to lead each portion of the training program. 

The solution alleviates the issues of the previous quarter, but it’s still too difficult to manage. Coordinators and specialists alike complain about the routine work in organizing training materials and gather resources. The constant cross-comparing between spreadsheets causes increased overtime and burnout. In the end, the training program has been provided, but not in the most efficient manner.

Resolving the “Logistics Gap” in L&D

Within the L&D community there is always some kind of deficiency or gap that needs to be addressed. Common ones that most training managers have heard include the “instructor shortage” and all too perpetual “skills gap”. The ironic thing is that if L&D focuses on the “logistics gap” in their learning delivery processes they can better plan and organize training programs to address instructor shortages and learner needs.

The term “logistics” isn’t as interesting compared to the other training and development buzzwords that have circled around the past ten years. The L&D community has focused on other areas including training ROI, learning personas, learning journeys – which are all important by the way – but forget about the processes involved in getting the how, where, and when for training to happen.

Like the hypothetical story above, L&D teams have the right mindset in getting training delivered but don’t have the right tools. When learning teams are empowered with the right tools and technologies to execute processes to solidify the “logistics of learning”, L&D teams will soon discover that they can deliver more training courses without the need of excessive administrative work.

case study learning ops

Streamlining Logistics of L&D Increases Training Output

Training Orchestra is designed to change the way you schedule training sessions and manage resources. Read how we improved one global tech company’s learning delivery processes by reducing administrative time for course registrations and instructor assignment for training sessions.

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What Tools Are Currently Used to Manage Logistics for L&D?

  • Calendars and Spreadsheets: Planning and organizing not only course dates and training session times, but also coordinating with trainers on their availability and capabilities to lead them. 
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Manages information about stakeholders and can contain statements of work, and contracts. 
  • Project Management Software: Organizing deliverables such as learning material for instructor-led training, project team tasks, and Gantt chart to measure timelines.
  • Third Party Reporting and Analytics: Outlining and measuring key performance indicators (KPIs) for any areas of training whether it be on the learner-side, instructor-side, or back office team.

Training providers, in-house or outsourced, owns all the resources for learning and development programs. From developing the learning strategy and scheduling course sessions to choosing the instructors for on-site training and providing reporting on results.

The issue is that training providers don’t have their own dedicated software to scale the logistical processes of planning and delivering training to their learners. Instead, training managers and coordinators are forced to improvise using an eclectic and confusing mix of software.

Training Management System: The Solution to the Logistics of L&D

While training managers and chief learning officers can get work done using this combination of software it tends to get difficult due the overload of administrative work for L&D coordinators. Most of the work revolves between comparing spreadsheets and calendars to plan and schedule trainer-led courses, in-person and online.

This is where a training management system (TMS) comes into strong consideration from those looking to make their learning and delivery processes more efficient. The TMS serves as the portal for the logistical needs of the provider’s training programs and training operation as a whole. Instead of using multiple software platforms for each critical aspect of the training course, L&D can refer to one platform to get all the key information they need and make changes as needed.

Training Orchestra as contains a comprehensive suite of features to fill in the “logistics gap” for L&D teams specializing in large scale instructor-led training programs. Utilizing a TMS allows training providers to:

  • Develop faster initiation of training programs
  • Plan L&D operations based on organization wide skills analysis
  • Customize additional learning software integrations to suit your training delivery objectives
  • Streamline collaboration between instructors and other L&D stakeholders
  • Scale delivery of training programs for instructor scheduling and resource allocation

Software for Managing the Logistics of Learning

What is a training management system and how does it help streamline logistical needs?

Training Management Systems (TMS) are specialized software used on the training administration side of a learning and development (L&D) operation. Key functions imbedded in TMS like Training Orchestra include: