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How to choose the right catalogue for skills training in your organisation

E-learning in the form of training catalogues has the potential to reach parts of an organisation other training can’t.  But equally, without careful selection and an implementation strategy, it can end up gathering metaphorical dust on a server.  To stop that from happening, here are a few things you need to choose the right skills training and the right way of delivering it.

Ask what Training Catalogues can do for you

Training Catalogues offer a cost-effective, efficient e-Learning solution providing training across a wide range of Business Skills.  They deliver up-to-date material that can be easily deployed across an organisation.  Buying in ready-made training relieves pressure on your L&D department and frees them up to make better use of their time planning training campaigns and strategies, aligning training to business goals, and making critical interventions in upskilling employees.

But buying in a complete suite of training modules only gets you so far.  How do you determine you’re purchasing the right catalogue for your organisation?  How does it meet your training needs, and, critically, how do you measure its impact and success?  If you don’t have answers to these and other questions you won’t get the maximum ROI from a training catalogue and it will become a white elephant.  

Know what you have and what you don’t

The first step in choosing a Business Skills training catalogue is to understand what you currently have and therefore what you need.  Not all training catalogues are created equal. Some may have a narrow focus and some a broader scope. You may need help with some new areas (GDPR or Mental Health in the workplace, for example), but have other core skills (like Communications and Project Management) already adequately covered.

This gap analysis helps you evaluate the core content provided.  It’s not just a question of quality, but also about how that content meets your organisation’s needs.  Most of all, what you want is something that enhances and improves on what you have. This might be measured in terms of coverage, focus, flexibility, best practice, accessibility and so on.  But if it’s not addressing a training need and a specific business goal, you risk not maximising your investment.

Look at the cost factors

Clearly buying something in represents a cost, but you need to gauge the return on that outlay.  Training providers often stress the cost savings that e-learning can bring in keeping training in-house and by making it available on the desktop.  This is certainly a benefit, but training catalogues may come with other costs that eat into those savings.

Make sure you understand the pricing and licensing model associated with training catalogues.  How many learners are covered in the initial price? Business Skills training doesn’t stand still, so are regular updates available and what do they cost?  If you’re an organisation that operates over different sites do you need to pay more to have them covered?

Then you should consider the implementation and maintenance costs.  Training providers usually offer support in deployment or claim that their training modules are ready to implement out of the box (plugin and play), but do you need your own IT staff to be involved?  

Even if there’s no extra cost for the initial implementation, are there costs in ongoing maintenance?  Do your IT or L&D people need training to maintain the Catalogues?

Judge the quality content

Training providers are selling and the proof of what they’re selling is in the content.  Naturally, you need to evaluate the quality and appeal of the content.  Ask yourself if the content on offer meets industry standards?  Is it written, edited and reviewed by recognised Subject Matter Experts?  

Business Skills is a broad, general area and not every aspect may be relevant to your organisation.  Consider whether the training provider has a good understanding of and experience in your industry and business sector.  Make sure you check out the provider’s references and business testimonials.

Where’s the relevance?

Training Catalogues may superficially meet your requirements in price, range and ease of implementation, but don’t forget who your key audience is: the learner.  If learners don’t engage with the training or they don’t understand how it meets their needs, you won’t gain the real rewards of improved performance in the workplace.  

Relevance is a key driver of successful training.  If employees can see that the training they receive is relevant to the work they do and will help them do it better, they’re more likely to trust it.  Does the training catalogue use relevant examples in its content? Does it tie the training to specific job roles and workplace scenarios?

If it doesn’t, can it be modified or customised to reflect the concerns and interests of learners in your organisation?  And this means going beyond branding and inserting a recommendation from your CEO or Head of L&D. Customising the training to suit your learning means adapting the content in a way that gives it meaning to your employees, making it personally relevant to what they do.

Does the training provider give a lead here, by regularly updating modules and adding new items to the catalogue to cover new areas of business?

Can it be used for Accreditation and CPD?

There’s another area of relevance too: professional recognition.  Many Training Catalogues will cite approval or recognition by an industry body.  Check whether it also includes actual accreditation by industry-recognised body and adheres to national standards.

And recognition of professional attainment can go further than taking a course and receiving a certificate.  Training Catalogues can also be used as part of Continuing Professional Development (CPD).  If employees can see that by taking the training they’re also furthering their CPD, they’ll have an additional incentive to use it.

Check accessibility

None of these features of content are of much use if the training can’t be accessed.  The great potential of digital learning is that it can be made more easily accessible.  Is the Training Catalogue available to run on multiple platforms and be accessible on mobile devices?  

With the ubiquitous use of smartphones and tablets, you need to make use of them as a training tool.  Can content be adapted for mobile learning? Do you have the learning infrastructure to support it?

Making sure learners engage

Having the content available at the point of need via mobile connectivity represents a huge stride in getting training to the people as and where they work.  But there’s a further step: that of engagement.

Any training, no matter what format or how it’s delivered, can founder on a lack of engagement.  Modern learners rely a lot less on formal training programmes and a lot more on ways of accessing information independently.  Think of how we Google what we need or view how-to videos on YouTube. The control and independence these tools offer learners means they are less tolerant of learning directed at them at a pace and time they can’t control.  eLearning can meet these demands, but only if it’s made similarly accessible by searching and delivered in digestible chunks in answer to a specific request or question.

Also, content can be made more engaging by the right combination of multimedia and engaging learning strategies, like role-plays or scenarios and gamification.  These encourage retention of learning and its transfer to the workplace.

So, when choosing a training catalogue consider how the content can be reused and repurposed to allow learners the control they need.  This way your content extends its shelf-life and a one-off purchase is accessed and used multiple times.

Train for the long haul

The ability to reuse and repurpose content from Business Skills Training Catalogues allows you to focus on the bigger picture for workplace training.  If you can use e-Learning to bring training closer to the point of need and situate it firmly in the workflow, you’re helping build a culture of learning where training is regarded as a job requirement, not just something to be endured.  Then your initial investment becomes a conduit for deeper involvement. The increased accessibility enabled by e-Learning makes training a continuous process rather than a single, isolated event.

Training Catalogues offer great potential, but they need to be activated.  And, like all your other resources, made to work for the benefit of your organisation.

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