The steps to the path of a successful training program
Today's business environment is a climate of high speed and complexity. In the Pharmaceutical industry there is a constant push to reduce time to market by shortening development and optimizing work flows. To successfully fulfill the business requirements numerous new tools, techniques and processes are being developed and implemented. Individuals and teams are being bombarded with dozens of new systems and models for working more efficient and effectively. Ultimately, the expectations of the business are to communicate better, over greater distances, access information quicker and make faster decisions to maintain a competitive edge. All these innovations will require training for individuals and/or teams will require training to either learn how to use a tool or application, or understand the why's and how's of business models, processes, and project management techniques. What can be done to ensure optimal resource usage and compliance, resulting in successful implementation and embracing of a training program?
What can be done to ensure the correct people are identified and trained relevant information? How can acceptance and utilization of the training be accomplished? Those are all questions that must be answered prior to implementation. The saying, “You can drag a horse to water, but you can't make him drink” is true with people too. You also can't make them like it or work better. So what can be done to ensure a happy, effective, well hydrated horse?
In AstraZeneca we were faced with a huge challenge. We were given the task to rollout a training program for a new project management tool to over a thousand users, spread globally across three countries in seven major sites in a period of nine months. This paper examines the eight steps we followed to get the most out of training for individuals and the business.
Eight Step Program
• Stakeholder Analysis
• Training Needs Analysis
• Modular Training Packages
• Custom Fit Training Material
• Multilingual Trainers
• Training Information Database
• Training Metrics
• Follow-Up Workshops
Identifying and developing a list of ALL stakeholders that or be impacted by the tool or process being trained will allow the training team to focus on who they need to interface with, allowing the correct communications and approaches to go to the correct audience. To get a complete picture of the stakeholders two analysis were compiled. The first analysis split the stakeholders into five categories. The approach and type of training varied depending on the stakeholder category:
• Sponsors—This category required a special high-level introduction and very basic report generation training. The focus of this group was to give them summary information in a very brief session.
• Trainees—These were the main focus and required the most intense training. This group were the actual users of the tools we were implementing so we spent a great deal of time defining very specific requirements of these trainees using an extensive training needs analysis.
• Functional representatives—This category required custom training focused on benefits and requirements specifically to/from their function. This group would be responsible for the maintenance of the training after delivery.
• Champions—This was a very special category, which tended to accompany one of the other categories. Champions were given special training on mentoring and support. They were developed as positive communicators and experienced in the proper utilization of the tool.
• Interfaces—This group were mainly given a brief overview so they could properly assess any impact with their function, processes or application.
To allow greater customization, stakeholders were then itemized into skill types, groups or departments. (See Exhibit 1.) We used a template grid containing generalized information about how the stakeholder would be impacted, along with the intended behavior we would like, what training they would require and how urgent it was to train them. To create the second analysis the general itemized groups were copied into another more detailed grid. (See Exhibit 2.) This grid was expanded to contain the detailing down to the individual's name. This grid contained information about a specific stakeholder's location, urgency of training and what modules they were required to be trained on. The next step was to conduct the training needs analysis. This allowed us to complete an accurate population of the data into the detailed stakeholder's analysis grid. (See Exhibit 2.)
Exhibit 1. Summary Stakeholder Analysis Grid
Exhibit 2. Detailed Stakeholder Analysis Grid
Exhibit 3. Training User Needs Anaysis Questionnaire
Training Needs Analysis
Once the stakeholders were established we needed to populate the stakeholder's details. This was done using a training needs analysis questionnaire, and helped us to establish the four Ws of training: Who? What? Where? Why? The training needs questionnaire should be simple and short. In our experience, to ensure compliance and accuracy of answering the questions, it was critical to construct the questionnaire in a way to minimize the amount of analysis and interpretation. We constructed our questionnaires using multiple-choice questions that were straightforward and to the point. Another key was to work with functional representatives, where applicable, on the questionnaire. It was important that there was agreement to the language and buy-in into the interpretation of the conclusions. (See Exhibit 3.) The training needs analysis will help ensure that the training program, user and business expectations and the selection of attendees are all a good match. The information collected from the training needs analysis was then transferred into the training database, which will be covered later.
Modular Training Packages
Once the training needs analysis was completed and results were summarized we began the creation of the training material. The stakeholder's and training needs analysis made it very clear that there were numerous skills, groups and requirements for training. It was also clear that for both trainer and trainee the material could not be consolidated into a one-size-fits-all manual. We decided that a more flexible approach was required, so we utilized a sectioned, modular approach. This approach allowed mixing and matching of material to create a very custom fit for trainee needs without having to recreate new material for each different session, or have to introduce a generic set of material containing non-applicable material. The approach allowed us to focus on just the right amount of applicable material for each group. There were some sections of material that could be used for a variety of users and other material that was very specific for a skill or function. We worked very closely with the functional representative to get the functional specific information worded correctly with applicable and appropriate terminology. The training modules were then put into the training section onto a website so they could easily be referred to and copied. Electronically posting the manuals allows users access to the most updated material. The modular approach again made the maintenance of the material easier and printing less time consuming since users and trainers only had to print the sections that have changed and/or those sections that are of interest or applicable to them.
Custom-Fit Training Material
One of the most successful steps taken with the training program was to create customized material that utilized examples, exercises, and templates that were specific to our business and more specifically, the group that was being trained. When going through the training for creating a new plan we used the appropriate function's templates. All the exercises and examples used throughout the training always referenced or used the terms and references of that group or function. During report training we used the specific function or skill selection requirements or parameters, so that the outputs were meaningful and thus more understandable. Trainees participated more during the training, when they felt connected or familiar with the material. Real examples of drug development were much easier to relate to, retain and apply to their work, than say, building a house.
Exhibit 4. Training Database Event Details
Exhibit 5. Training Database User Details
Our training covered seven sites in three main countries. We originally interviewed trainers from one consulting firm to schedule training sessions and travel to all the sites, since that is how we had done training in the past. We changed our strategy significantly after several site visits and stakeholder interviews. It was very clear that a different approach was required this time for success. We quickly realized utilizing multilingual trainers that speak both American English and the language of the country the training was being conducted would be crucial. It not only created a familiar environment that eliminated the language barrier significantly, but increased the understanding of the information being trained. It also created a much more open, trusting and conducive learning platform for the trainees. The trainers also were much more comfortable and confident when answering questions or giving examples if they could do so in their native language. It was also important that the trainers speak excellent American English so that we felt confident our message was accurately communicated.
Training Information Database
A huge advancement for the global training rollout was the establishment of a training database for logging in all trainees, their training requirements, attendance, training sessions, locations, etc. We used Access on a global server, which allowed the trainers to quickly and easily enter and track the training sessions and attendees. It also allowed the users to see which sessions were available on their site. (See Exhibit 4.) The training database also allowed a user to see their current training status and identify what they had already attended and what was still pending. (See Exhibit 5.) The database allowed an organized platform for the sharing and monitoring training information. Reports and attendance sheets, email reminders and training sessions with dates and location were all generated and posted on a website for all the stakeholders.
Metrics are key in understanding what is and isn't working. Our analysis used data from two general types of metrics:
• Training Session Metrics—We collected metrics on the actual training itself with the use of a questionnaire. We used the same approach as we did in the user needs analysis. We kept it short and simple, using multiple-choice questions to reduce the chance of misinterpretation, and again we developed these questionnaires with input from the functional representatives. The questions were focused on a variety of things:
• Content—Did we cover enough information for their needs? Was the information applicable and understandable?
• Trainer—Was the trainer knowledgeable, understandable, interesting? Did they answer questions? Did they like his or her style?
• Training material—Was it easy to follow? Was it helpful? Would they ever refer to it again? Were the examples and exercises applicable to them?
• Effectiveness of the Training Metrics—Here we monitored system usage and information quality as a meter of how effective the training session were. We measured parameters like:
• How many users go into the system?—This metric is a quick way of seeing if the training initiated an interest and if the basics were understood
• How often is the system being used?—This metric allows monitoring how often an individual went into the system. If they only went in once, follow-up workshops might be required.
• What is the quality of the data?—This measured how current the data was.
By looking at both the training itself and the usage of the training, we felt we had the proper mix of metrics and feedback to adjust the training program to meet the changing business and user requirements. The system and the training have little value if the audience didn't get anything from the training and aren't using the system.
The data from the training questionnaires were very positive, so the training itself seemed well received and understood, but the usage of the system was not where we thought it should be. The results of some of the metrics prompted us to come up with the idea of follow-up workshops. This concept has been especially effective. We found that following up after the initial training and organizing practical workshops, benefited both the training team and the trainees. These sessions focused on using the tools and the processes on real cases or work, both the trainers and the system champions facilitated them. Actual projects and real cases were utilized during the workshops so that users ended up with a real result they could use. Real-life application of the training reinforced the need and usefulness of the training. It is a known fact that physically doing something increases the retention of training significantly, especially if the result is applicable to the trainee.
The time and cost of doing the research upfront and developing a well thought through training program following the above eight steps saves significant resource and cost in the long term for the business. It allows the focus of the training on the right set of people with the proper material, and a correct match of applicable content and time. This leads to less wasted time, better absorption of the material, and down the path to a successful system training and implementation.
Proceedings of the Project Management Institute Annual Seminars & Symposium
October 3–10, 2002 • San Antonio, Texas, USA