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Ask any L&D professional, and they’ll tell you that scheduling and planning training takes up the majority of their admin time in any given week.

This poses significant challenges, especially when it comes to planning in-person training events or virtual instructor-led training sessions online.  Whether your organization prefers ILT or VILT, learning teams are focused on how to deliver training quickly and efficiently, without sacrificing quality.

As too many teams have discovered the hard way, without proper scheduling and planning tools for training, rolling out a learning strategy without wasting precious time and resources is virtually impossible. So what’s the answer?

The Current State of Scheduling for Training Programs

Course scheduling and training management can often get overlooked in favor of focusing on designing creative learning content. Even on the learning administration side, L&D teams tend to get wrapped up in publishing learning content and communicating with instructors, which means that scheduling sessions and courses becomes an afterthought.

While it may not be glamorous to work on the admin side of training, course scheduling and the maintenance of learning operations are the keys to running successful training. If learners don’t get enough notice, you book a venue that’s too small, or your best instructors aren’t available on the dates you choose, things can get messy quickly as you scramble to put things right.

Course Scheduling with Spreadsheets

Training coordinators often find themselves relying on a mix of spreadsheets, databases, and additional resources such as Excel, Google Sheets, and CRMs to manage course and instructor schedules, a practice all too familiar in their line of work. While it can be done, the increase in administrative time leads to an opportunity cost that L&D team members can’t ignore.

Don’t think you’re spending too much time in the sheets? A McKinsey study on organizational performance revealed that middle managers devote close to 28% of their time to administrative tasks that yield no value to the team or stakeholders. Imagine the possibilities if that time were redirected toward investing in learners or enhancing the training team!

While online calendars, email and manual spreadsheets may be a popular approach to training management, they are rarely the best solutions. In the world of L&D, relying on spreadsheets to schedule courses and assign instructors can be incredibly time-consuming, particularly for enterprise-level training or hybrid learning programs. It’s not uncommon for training coordinators to become proficient Excel users. Many have also explored techniques to track their “total editing time” and view workbook statistics to gauge the extent of their time investment in managing spreadsheets.

The best training management protocols involve automated training scheduling, allowing for an easier way to find and assign the optimal time, instructor, and venue for every session and enabling straightforward future planning. Ideally, managing learning and development should not be an overly manual process, and software should streamline the course scheduling process, not add more administrative time.

Managing Training Programs at Scale

Training programs are critical in developing new professional skills and are often attributed to the success of an organization. When measuring the ROI of training, implementing training can produce improvement in skills and job prospects for employees between 50 to 300%, according to various studies. These programs are here to stay as they’re instrumental in developing and nurturing talent for the long run. From the most fundamental training, such as compliance training programs, to more specialized, goal-oriented initiatives, such as sales enablement training.

Every aspect of the learning operation depends on spreadsheets. Using spreadsheets is an excellent way to get these programs organized and delivered to learners however they best serve that best only in the beginning stages of the training program. The issue in L&D today at the enterprise level is that there’s too much effort on the administrative side to make these learning programs a success for their employees and partners.

As the organization grows in size of staff and scope of service, L&D teams quickly find out that spreadsheets can quickly pile up loads of work. The result? Learning specialists become swamped with manual work — entering data points, cross-referencing instructor schedules, double-checking training course resources, scheduling training sessions, and relaying communications between instructors and L&D stakeholders. This becomes draining for L&D teams as most of the time is spent on manual administration, as opposed to focusing on learning and development strategies and continually improving the training program for learners.

Using the Right Learning Technologies

Training teams are no strangers to adopting multiple technologies and methods to deliver great learning experiences to employees. Training covers everything from onboarding to compliance to reskilling and upskilling to leadership to soft skills, so it’s clear that the need for high-quality learning extends into every part of an organization.

While the specific learning technology stack will look different for every organization based on its infrastructure and requirements, there are broadly three platform types that will benefit all organizations looking to support a robust blended learning strategy.

learning technology TMS LMS LXP

1. Learning Experience Platform (LXP)

An LXP is a front-office system, in which learners will engage directly. For instance, this could be the company website or a dedicated LXP such as Degreed or Fuse.

The LXP will typically include features and functionality such as:

  • Curated content from both internal and third-party sources
  • Personalized learning, using algorithms and data analytics to surface the most relevant content for each user
  • Social learning, such as forums, public and private collaborative projects, and peer-to-peer learning

2. Learning Management System (LMS)

An LMS is what the training team will use to deliver learning. Typically, this will consist of eLearning courses, digital resources, and multimedia content. Importantly, however, the average LMS falls short in handling complex instructor-led training management or scheduling.

With the LMS, you will usually find:

  • Content management via a centralized content repository
  • Course administration to create and upload formal online training courses
  • User management to create users, assign roles, and manage permissions
  • Assessments and quizzes to monitor progress and skill development
  • Integration with other systems to streamline processes and share data

3. Training Management System (TMS)

The TMS or Training Management System, helps organizations manage and streamline their training operations, focusing specifically on ILT, vILT, and hybrid training. A TMS provides training teams with an easy way to centralize, organize, and schedule live training events, eliminating the need for spreadsheets and other outdated, manual processes.

Core features of a TMS like Training Orchestra include:

  • Scheduling and resource management to identify the best time, instructor, venue, and resources for each training session
  • Trainer skills catalog for assigning the best available facilitator
  • Budget tracking to keep an eye on training costs
  • Instructor engagement portal for trainers to manage their courses, schedules, documents and communications
  • Integration with other systems, including the LMS, for streamlined learning operations

Perfecting Course Scheduling and Training Program Logistics

So, what does all this tell us about the current state of training?

One thing’s for sure: we cannot underestimate the importance of building a strong foundation for training administration. Streamlining our processes and creating foolproof training protocols will put us in the best possible position to thrive going forward – and that means ditching the spreadsheets for good and prioritizing the tools and technology that will allow our training teams to focus on what they do best.

That’s where the Training Orchestra comes in. Our market-leading TMS helps organizations worldwide maximize their chance of training success by making it easier to plan, schedule, and track ILT, vILT, and hybrid training. If this sounds like what you need, we’d love to show you around. Simply schedule your demo here and we’ll show you how Training Orchestra can help you streamline your training operations for good.

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View Training Orchestra in Action

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Training Orchestra: Course & Instructor Scheduling Software

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 employee, customer, partner, or member training programs. We’ve crafted the perfect training management system to address the most critical needs of corporate L&D and training businesses.

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