Many professionals, within and outside of the L&D field, groan when their organization’s budget season rolls around. But, as Lianabel Oliver Bigas suggests in “Preparing and Defending Your Training Budget,” L&D pros can use the period to review and improve their training lineup.
Understanding your organization’s budget will help you understand how training fits into the bigger picture of your company. It also will provide guidance on the objectives you should align your training initiatives with and the amount of money you can spend on training to meet those objectives.
In addition to supporting the organizational strategy, your training plan must take into account the operating environment—which consists of internal and external factors. Bigas places the external environmental factors in six major buckets: customers, industry, technology, the economy, government, and society.
Among the questions a trainer would be wise to pose around each area include:
- Who are our internal customers? What departments or groups of employees do we serve?
- Is there a recurring training complaint that needs to be addressed?
- How do we compare with other training organizations of similar size in our industry?
- What is the average usage and drop-off rate for online courses? How does that compare with industry statistics?
- What technologies can increase the efficiency or effectiveness of our training programs?
- Are there new or developing technologies that will significantly affect how we design and deliver training programs in the near future?
- Is the economy growing, decelerating, or stagnating?
- How will economic factors affect the availability and skills set of the labor pool from which we recruit?
- Are regulatory agencies requiring changes to our compulsory training programs?
- For government-mandated training, are there more cost-effective alternatives to the programs we currently use?
- Is the composition of our labor pool changing in terms of age, gender, and income? If so, how?
- Are there changes in lifestyle or preferences that will affect how employees learn?
After looking at external and internal operating factors, conduct a SWOT analysis to determine your department’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. External factors can be looked at in terms of opportunities or threats, and internal factors as strengths or weaknesses. All of this information will be important when you prepare your work plan, where you will answer questions like how many employees need to be trained, by what modality, and whether that training will be conducted in-house or by contractors.
So, rather than looking at budget season as yet one more project to do, look at it as an asset in developing more efficient and effective training.