Life Cycle Management—A Trainer's Perspective
The general theme running through this paper and the presentation is
that it is crucial that one have a plan which reflects the training
requirements of both the organization and the individuals who make
up the organization. This suggests that, like any other product or
service, the life cycle of training requires some sort of
management. I do not intend to cover this aspect in any great detail
here; however suffice it to say that there is a cycle for training
which begins with the definition of the objectives and ends when the
training module or session is "retired." Each organization will
decide how formal or informal the process will be; however, I would
suggest that you look at how other products and/or services are
brought to market and pattern the delivery of training to reflect
that process. Since training should be part of any product life
cycle process, it should not be difficult to demonstrate that
logical planning for all training makes good business sense.
Certainly, definition of objectives is a good starting point since
there must be definition of what the training is to accomplish
before the training session, the "product," is designed and, then,
there must be some sort of review of the development process to help
the trainer ensure that design is on track with requirements. Now,
we want to keep track of training delivery, changes, currency, and
so forth as we go into "production and delivery" and the training
product matures. Finally, and this is often the phase trainers tend
to ignore as do many manufacturing organizations, there must be a
conscious decision to end the life of a training module, class, etc.
As long as the module, course, etc. exists, it must be maintained
and that takes time and effort which well might be spent in more
fruitful pursuits. Don't allow training materials to "hang around"
simply because you hope they'll die of their own weight. When you
feel the end is in sight, notify any interested parties of your
intent to discontinue with the rationale associated with the
decision to include any substitute offerings and other issues. Then,
formally announce the retirement, archive any residual materials,
and remove the module, course, etc. from catalogues, course lists,
databases, and the like.
Just as there is no magic in MRPII, JIT, ERP, TQM, and all the other
acronyms in and out of vogue, there is no magic in organizational
training wellness. One does not become well just by wishing it so—we
go to health clubs and run, lift weights, ride bikes, climb
Stairmasters, play racquet-ball, and all sorts of other things to
keep our physical condition up to par and training is no different.
Training wellness is hard work and requires a plan much like any
other kind of wellness—awareness, diagnosis, prescription,
implementation, and follow-up or feedback with attendant changes.
Like wellness, training works better if there is a flexible,
long-range treatment plan which allows problems to be addressed
systematically, allows for preventive measures to address problems
proactively, and allows for emergency treatment of unexpected
problems. And a spoonful of sugar still makes the medicine go down,
which means we must consider the "patient," whom we prefer to refer
to as students, as we develop our treatment plan. Or, if
manufacturing terminology is more to your liking—practice JIT
training by delivering what is needed, when it is needed, in the
quantity needed, to the proper audience—a "training pull system."
The message?—make your training time, personnel, and dollars
count—no training for the sake of training, and you've eliminated
waste and continuously improved!