Great customer education functions have direct and meaningful impact on organizations, which is not easy to build unless you know the eight essential process capabilities of great training organizations. In the book, What Make a Great Training Organization? A Handbook of Best Practices, Doug Harward and Ken Talyor outline a list of eight things training leaders must do to build a great customer education organization.
Below I describe each of these eight capabilities at a very high level. If you want more detail, I suggest you buy the book. If you are trying to build a great training organization, you need it.
Here you need to make sure that the training you are developing and delivering directly supports the most important goals of the organization. Anything else should be eliminated. You should rarely be in a room, with just your training team, discussing only what learning needs to be developed.
The goal of a high-performing training team is to help grow the business through training.
Once you have aligned the training strategy with business needs, it is time to develop the content. The content could be for live training, eLearning, or even learning labs. Developing content might be the most difficult task because of how much time it takes to create content, not to mention the effort necessary to maintain current content, especially if you are dealing with training on software systems of any kind.
Do you have competent and engaging trainers for live training? Do you have a learning management system (LMS) that is easy for people to use and find the learning they need? Delivery comes in many forms, but whatever form it is, delivery of training must be a great experience for trainees or training satisfaction will suffer.
Diagnostics is about determining needs, a process that must occur between the strategic alignment and content development exercises. Once you know the overall business priorities and customer needs, you can use a diagnostic process to figure out what content must be developed.
Reporting and analysis
During the strategic alignment phase, you worked with business leadership to define priorities. Are you prepared to report on progress towards those priorities? To do this effectively, find a way to report out of your LMS and not in a spreadsheet. And when you do report data to leadership, analyze the data and provide insight in your report. You are not helping business leadership by providing only numbers. You must provide insight.
This is important, especially in a cloud, SaaS world. You must figure out a way to integrate your learning platform with other systems in your company. These could include CRMs, ERPS, payment gateway, and data analytics platforms, as a start. You cannot run a great training organization on an island.
There is the inevitable and critical administrative work that comes with running a great training organization. And if you think about it, what makes for a better impression on your customers than outstanding, responsive, and proactive administrative services? Think about it.
The portfolio management competency addresses the question of how you will allocate resources and assemble learning in a complete package. What content will be created versus purchased? When will you use internal trainers versus outside consultants? What proportion of your budget will be spent on live, classroom training versus self-paced eLearning? You must be able to effectively manage the portfolio of learning opportunities that the business needs.
Of the eight key process capabilities of a great training organization, which ones do you do well? Which of the eight could you improve the most? What capabilities are missing?