Why Strengthening Your Training Intake System Leads to Better Planning for L&D

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Productivity and how to maximize it is top of mind for many L&D leaders right now. With the demand for training skyrocketing due to unforeseen world events in 2020, training teams have had to quickly pivot with shifting priorities. Not only that, but they’re often having to manage these challenges with frozen budgets and staff layoffs.

All this has brought to mind the question: how can learning leaders ensure their team’s productivity matches the demand for training?

The answer lies in two areas of training development that rarely get the attention they deserve: training intake and capacity planning. 

By strengthening the training intake processes and workflows, learning leaders place themselves in a much better position to manage their team’s capacity and allocate resources strategically.

How to Strengthen the Training Intake Process

For most L&D teams, training intake is a scramble to assemble training requests, project schedules, and resource allocation to different training projects. It all starts at the initial request stage. 

1. Centralizing Training Requests

Now that digital transformation has been accelerated beyond all expectations, L&D are in the perfect position to centralize the way they receive, manage, and prioritize training requests.

The first step is to provide training request forms to business partners to formalize the request process. This enables you to:

  • Perform much of the training project needs analysis in the initial request stage
  • Standardize the intake process
  • Capture data to inform your request prioritization process
  • Spend less time fielding emails, phone calls, and instant messages with ad-hoc requests

The form should be detailed and capture as much information as possible. Start by thinking about how much information you need to go over during a kick-off meeting for a new training project. How much of that information could be gathered right off the bat on the request form?

This will also help to avoid surprises during the kick-off meeting when establishing the project scope and requirements.

2. Prioritizing What Matters

The next step is establishing a set of criteria that enables your team to quickly assess training requests and prioritize their execution accordingly. 

This may vary from organization to organization and should ensure that your team is best positioned to deliver business critical training that is in high demand and drives performance. 

3. Digitize Everything

Whether you choose to track and manage training requests through spreadsheets or whether you decide to check out Training Intake software, the key thing is to centralize everything. Only then can you have a birds-eye view into the demand for training in hard and fast numbers.

Leveraging Training Intake for Capacity Planning

So, why bother? Why should you invest the time to reshape your training intake workflows?

Even in an organization with a low volume of requests, digitizing and centralizing training intake will have a profound impact on all other elements of learning development and the management of your training team. 

Plus, when it comes to meeting demand, delivering on expectations, and establishing L&D’s position as a strategic influence on organizational performance, that’s where your new training intake process will really help you shine.

1. Capacity Planning

Do you know exactly how many training projects your training team has room for in a given time period?  

It’s almost impossible to say “yes” or “no” to new training requests if you don’t have a concrete grasp on what your team is capable of fulfilling. From the availability of specific skills to personnel hours, calculating the capacity of your team is essential to the efficient scheduling of training projects.

On the flipside of that equation, you can’t align training demand with your team’s capacity if you don’t understand the demands each training request will place on your team. 

That’s why capturing the training intake data as outlined above and properly modelling your team’s capacity means you are never under or over promising on deliverables for the organization.

2. Resource Allocation

Once you’ve prioritized your training requests and established your team’s workload for the foreseeable future, your next challenge is deciding how to allocate your resources (team members, skill sets, budget, etc.) onto different projects. 

Having established the needs of each project more thoroughly with your new training intake process, you’ll be better positioned to understand the optimal way to distribute your resources amongst projects.

And what does that mean for your team and your training projects?

  • No more missed deadlines due to unexpectedly time-consuming projects
  • No last-minute budget increases
  • Less stress for your training team as demand more accurately matches their capacity

3. Project Scheduling

You know your team’s capacity, you’ve accepted your limit of training requests, and now it’s time to schedule the kick-offs and deadlines for each training project. Before, this would have been a “guesstimate” with all sorts of surprises cropping up at project kick-off and team members experiencing periods of high pressure and periods of downtime.

But when you’ve invested the time to establish proper training intake and capacity planning, your project scheduling becomes much more straightforward. Not only that, but you’re much more likely to stick to that project schedule, too. 

Want to find out how agile your team really is? Test your ability to respond to changes in the business with this quick quiz!

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