Updated: Apr 17
This has probably happened to you, too: You're neck deep in business-as-usual activities (that's what I call all the items on your planned docket of work) to get the year going and your training programs launched with a strong start. You have a one-on-one with your boss and learn that you need to get program, Operation Urgent, out to all leaders in the organization before the end of the first quarter. Sure. It's mid-January. Eye-rolling is appropriate here - just not in front of your boss. After a quiet moment at your desk and a deep breath, you're ready to weigh the options and make a plan.
In this article, we won't discuss the juggle that this situation entails - you know the one: do we halt another BAU (that's business-as-usual) activity to sub this one in? Do I even pose that to my boss? What can I put off to prioritize this one? Why? Why is this one even important? Juggling skills is a topic to itself. What we will discuss is how to build an effective training implementation plan, so that you are ready to answer questions stakeholders throw your way and prep for a successful program launch.
Build an Effective Training & Development Plan
It may sound overly simple, but the easiest way to go about devising an implementation plan and being prepared to address the details is to begin with Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. Answering these questions typically builds the foundation of your plan. Add a few more questions on Risk, Budget and Communication, and you’ve got yourself a tidy, well-though out implementation plan.
Questions are a handy way to think through a plan, as they help get you to the root of the need, issue or request. Use the list below to uncover the info needed to build a solid proposal:
is the audience? What is their level, working location, demographic?
is your primary stakeholder? What objective are they hoping to achieve with this program?
will be designing and/or developing the training? Are you purchasing an off-the-shelf product, customizing something or building from scratch? Once you determine the “What” questions below, you may need to revisit these questions.
will be facilitating the sessions? Once you’ve answered the “What" questions below, revisit who on your Team is best suited for this facilitation project. You might also consider other resources, such as leaders training their own staff. Think outside the box on who might be able to assist.
must be accomplished for the project to be successful? This is the most important question you should ask. This is the core of what you are trying to achieve. It’s uber important to get this one right and signed-off by your stakeholder and boss before you move forward with any plans.
are the objectives of this class? One of the first things your team should ask of you is “What are we trying to achieve here?” What do your learners need to demonstrate as a result of attending this training? Apply design rules here to establish clear objectives for the session.
does the training need to be completed? In other words, what’s the timeline and urgency? Is there one group of employees that needs it first? Can you stretch out the rollout to the rest of the employee population? What flexibility in timing can you gain?
should you get your team up-to-speed with train-the-trainers and such? This is the place to establish a timeline with milestones. Plan backwards from the implementation date to determine development due dates, pilots, train-the-trainers, etc. Be realistic as you answer this question.
does the training need to happen? Can you host it at headquarters? Do you need to take it to your satellite locations? Answering this one impacts many of the details in your plan, from timelines to Facilitators to budget. Build in options showing various budget implications.
is this project so important? This is the second most important question. Establish a clear answer on why the project is important to the business.
should participants attend this class? This is where you begin to define relevancy and the WIIFM (what's in it for me?) for participants. This is an important one for your facilitators and designers to know.
will the training be rolled out? Is face-to-face the best way to meet the objectives and purpose of the training, or can you develop an elearning or distance learning program?
long do you really need to address the content? Can you accomplish the objectives in 2, 4 or 6 hours? Lean on your developers to advise you on this one. You will likely have restrictions on timing from the business, so push back if needed. Don’t agree to a two-hour session, if the topic can’t be accomplished in less than four hours.
And, several other questions you should consider:
Do I have a budget for the project and what is it? Is it enough? Be frugal, but realistic with what you can cover with the allotted budget.
There will be some for every project. What are they? For example, do you have the executives you need on board to support the implementation and learning transfer? What is the impact if you don't meet the implementation deadline?
Communication is necessary for the success of any change in behavior. What change communication do you need to support your training efforts? Think organizationally and locally. What can you provide to the leaders of your participants to support retention of the content? Will engaging a member of the communication team help?
Answer these questions systematically, and you've got a solid start. You will no doubt come up with other questions suited to your organization and the particular training request. Keep them handy. You’ll use them again.
As you work through these questions, put them to paper. You’ll see your implementation plan taking shape, and it’s easier to devise a tight deck of slides if you’ve already wrangled through the details. A “roadshow” deck of slides to share with your stakeholders, boss and others you need to gain buy-in from would be a good next step once you’ve solidified the implementation plan.
My team and I have done this a time or two. We're not strangers to the last minute training or talent needs that pop-up. I'd like to help you be agile with a solid plan. Click here for a free template you can use to capture and synthesize your notes on the W questions, along with a sample implementation plan proposal template.
I'd love to hear how you used the "W" questions to plan a project. Leave a comment below and let's discuss.