How do I balance my training priorities versus budget? This is the most sought question in our learning conferences. Almost all training managers had faced this challenge one time or the other. Now, many training managers are experiencing a crunch in their L&D budgets. However, managements’ expectations didn’t change; as usual, they always expect maximum results from minimum budgets. In this context, I reveal seven stunning secrets to maximize your training impact, with minimum budgets.
1. Review Current Costs
It’s good that you want to set things right in your training. For that, you need to review your state of training. Keenly evaluate what’s working and what’s not. Compare your training costs against industry standards to know what the reasonable costs are. It’s better to take stock of the training formats and the proportion of blend you are using in them too.
Removing the training programs that are no longer required is the easiest way of reducing budgets. Stopping the annual license renewal fees for catalog/generic online learning courses that are no longer in use or rarely used will also come to your rescue. Converting most of your instructor-led training to online learning courses is another way to cut down your training budgets.
2. Differentiate Needs from Wants
Some of our prospects come up with expectations like they want high-end 3D animations, HD graphics, and fully gamified online courses. Nothing wrong in asking those features, but with every feature you add, the cost will shoot up accordingly. You have to accept that fact. This is where wise discernment comes into the picture.
You need to clearly define what you require and what your training objectives are. Then differentiating needs and wants will be easier. Our Purpose is not to entertain employees with high-end 3D animations and HD graphics, like Disney or Universal Studios in Hollywood movies.
As a learning expert, I can confidently say, content with clear learning objectives, relevant instructional design strategy, engaging interactivities, good clarity visuals, and clear audio narration are what you need, to develop an impactful learning course. If you consider including these essential elements, you can considerably reduce your online training budgets, without compromising on quality.
3. Align Learning Needs with Business Goals
Training being cost-effective is of no use when it’s not contributing to employee performance and meeting your organization’s business requirements. So, you need to consider this aspect while reviewing the current situation of training in your organization.
Identify the priorities or key areas, where training is required and where learning/training is not a priority for a certain time.
For example, your company has leadership training, compliance, product knowledge, sales, Customer care, IT skills training and more. But, you can clearly differentiate between mandatory training programs and optional ones. So, giving preference to compulsory training programs is easier. After compliance, sales and product knowledge training programs come.
Opt for Rapid eLearning
You can considerably reduce your eLearning development costs by adopting the rapid eLearning approach. Now you have many eLearning authoring tools are at your disposal for developing online learning courses swiftly, in a cost-effective manner.
Rapid eLearning approach consists of:
- Lean and agile processes, with less documentation
- Rapid authoring tools
- Reusable templates and Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)
- Effective online/offline review processes
If you do it right, with the help of eLearning experts, the rapid mode can give the effective output that you generally get in traditional custom eLearning. Rapid eLearning saves Subject Matter Experts’ time, takes fewer efforts of project management as projects complete faster.
Provide Performance Support
For every small training requirement, you don’t need to develop a full-fledged eLearning course. Why steal your employees’ productive time for teaching tasks that can be learned while on the job? For certain tasks, providing handy job-aids are enough. For example, to operate a fire extinguisher, do you really need a course? A simple job-aid with images and one liner instructions are sufficient to do that effectively.
That does not imply that you need to completely depend wholly on job-aids and avoid eLearning. When you blend job-aids with online learning, the learning burden on employees will decline and at the same time, your budget also will be in limits. You can always give additional resources before or after or in between the online learning courses to your employees/learners in the form of PDFs, podcasts, slide shows, flash cards, Infographics and more.
Use Open Source LMS
Your organization can conduct and manage all online training programs effectively, without burning a hole in your pocket, with open source Learning Management Systems (LMS). You no need to look down upon open source LMSs, as you can get all the features and robust functionality in them. Customizing the Moodle LMS to your company’s training requirements pays off. In fact many small and medium sized businesses in the US, depend upon Moodle for their LMS requirements.
Benefits of choosing an open source LMS:
- Customize as per company requirements with the logo and brand
- Low hosting costs
- Variety of functionality features
- Active advice and support
Many paid LMSs come with attractive names of Gamified, collaborative and all other stuff in the market. You get all these functionalities in Moodle by customizing it. This way, you can balance your priorities and budget.
Choose eLearning Outsourcing Wisely
Though you can develop online learning internally with the help of rapid authoring tools, when the requirement is huge, you can’t do everything on your own. Focus on where you can add value and outsource the rest to expert eLearning companies.
The little discernment you apply in selecting the right eLearning vendor, will pay off higher dividends later.
Know the nuances of eLearning if you are new to this domain, research the market for various eLearning suppliers. This knowledge helps you to decide which eLearning company better suits your training needs. Be sure to enquire more about the vendors you are interested in and check how they can keep up their claims.
Shortlist the number of eLearning vendors/suppliers that can cater to your wide range of training requirements and build long-term relationships with them. If you choose a new vendor every time for the big/small requirements, he needs to understand your firm’s needs from the beginning.
From your prospective eLearning suppliers, you can ask free samples, to understand their capabilities. If yours is a large project, you can seek prototypes, to avoid unnecessary delays in the timelines of the project, and references. The important point to note here is, don’t always go for the lowest price, because you have to balance the quality of work and the budget.
When you have found your right eLearning outsourcing partner, much of your efforts of balancing priorities versus budgets will come true!