Make Your Training Budget Go Further

1. Prioritise
Rate your various training requirements according to “business criticality”.
All organisations will vary but the “Business Critical” training needs usually fall into one of the following categories:
a. Skills which will have a direct impact on underperforming business metrics eg Effectiveness of Project Delivery, Negotiation of Higher Prices, or Quality of IT Services.
b. Skills which are pre-requisites or enablers for the effective introduction of technology or other investments eg enhanced IT systems
c. Investment in the people who will be leading the organisation in 2 to 5 years’ time
d. Skills which are truly essential for regulatory compliance (eg Health & Safety, or Information Security)

2. Be Creative
Can the learning need be met in ways other than a course.
Remember training lesson number one – training does not need to mean a course.
a. Job shadowing is often used for new recruits, but can be a more viable option for more experienced employees when time is not being intensively utilised.
b. To tackle practical, everyday aspects of personal performance use coaching or mentoring by line managers (or perhaps by an older employee who is opting for early retirement).
c. Train the trainer: in areas such as IT it is sometimes sensible to invest in one (or a few) individuals who can then cascade their knowledge to a wider team.
d. Job Swaps.  Employees often find 1 to 3 month job swaps a stimulating and rewarding way to develop new capabilities and build business awareness.
e. Knowledge Banks. Consolidate key information which is often taken for granted using intranets or knowledge management tools.

3. Explore
Don’t just go to the trainers you know and love. Surf the net.
You’re concentrating on the important, you’ve found creative internal routes to satisfy some requirements – but now you need to source the rest from third party providers. Your first thought is that list of trainers you’ve been using for the past 10 years – even though you know the feedback on some of them was less than perfect. Before you do, SEARCH THE WEB.

4. Negotiate
You can often get the same training for less.
It’s a competitive environment for your organisation – and it is for trainers too.  If you are booking multiple courses, or your booking will impact the viability of a training event then you may be well positioned to obtain discounts from training providers.

5. Consolidate
There may be on-site options or more scope to negotiate.
Group the training needs within your organisation.  Look across multiple departments.  Steer employees to satisfy similar learning needs with a common solution.  Use industry standard certification courses rather than tailored one off training.  If you can group together those who need particular types of training then there are significant cost saving opportunities including onsite courses.

6. Find Funding
There’s more public funding than ever before.
The good news is that the government will assist all companies to develop employee skills and there are schemes which are likely to be of direct financial benefit to most organisations.  The bad news is that there is a lack of consistency so available help can vary according to location, size of business, type of training and industry sector. More Information about Training Funding

7. Evaluate
Make sure you have solid data on the costs and benefits.
Yes. Painful but essential.  When times are tough it is more important than ever to ensure you understand which training has been most effective in meeting the needs of the organisation.  Most HR professionals will be systematic in obtaining feedback on the training itself and its relevance to the work of the delegate. Perhaps the “watchout” in this area is to check that you are truly assessing value to the business rather than just the individual.

Blogalot – 10th February 2009