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The Training Intake Process: A Practical Guide

As employees continue to ask for training in the workplace—94 percent of employees say that they would stay at a company longer if it invested in helping them learn, according to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workplace Learning Report—L&D departments can quickly become overwhelmed.

Further, employees don’t just want any training—they want to be able to choose the learning they feel is most valuable to them. This training is not only important for employees to do their jobs better but is also important to their greater professional development.

With employees seeming to drive the training function, leaders must find a way to set priorities and develop a process to decide which course gets built and which does not.

To address this issue and better track success, L&D has begun experimenting with a training intake process. The system is essentially a process for receiving and evaluating training requests from all employees across the organization. This standardized approach to training requests can help the L&D department to surface interest in particular learning, set priorities, and even jumpstart the instructional design process.

We’ve assembled a checklist to guide learning leaders through a learning intake system. Part strategy, part execution, it can help you manage your training requests and course development more smoothly.

1. Design and establish the training intake process

Think about the training intake experience from the perspective of both the employee and the learning leader. Employees know they want training—but they may not necessarily know how to articulate exactly what they need.

Part of the challenge is to create a process with the employee’s limited experience in mind. However, the more complete the information you receive upfront, the better informed learning leaders will be, so as to decide which courses get built and which do not.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when creating the system.

Who can submit? Will you be taking requests from all employees? Or should employees discuss the item first with their managers, who can then submit the formal request on the employees’ behalf? This decision by a manager may serve as a filter of sorts.

How can they submit? Most L&D leaders agree that the process must be moved away from informal emails and in-person conversations in order to ensure consistency in how requests are formatted and submitted. The best place may be through a link on your company intranet or through a training intake platform.

What information will they submit? Consider all the information that you usually collect over email communication or during in-person meetings with the requester—only to realize that training is not required or a course already exists. A significant amount of time can be saved by carefully framing questions on your training request form that will help you to quickly reject requests or direct employees to existing resources.

Who will decide? Place the management and prioritization of training requests in the hands of one or two people on the L&D team.

How will you decide? You also want to standardize the prioritization process utilizing a type of scorecard or points system to ensure that the requests most critical to business success are prioritized.

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2. Build the forms

Adopting a standardized approach to training request management begins with creating a request form that can be used by employees and managers across the organization.

Think long and hard about the information you need upfront, as reducing confusion is key. Capturing the right information on your request form allows you to:

  • Speed up the prioritization process once the request is submitted—saving time on meetings and follow-up discussions.
  • Transition smoothly into course design if the request is accepted. Indeed, substantial information given upfront can drive the Analysis stage of the ADDIE instructional design model.
  • Capture data on your training intake for analytics and insights.

Beyond the requester’s details, the two most important parts of the form include details related to the training itself and the potential business impact.

For training details, capture as much knowledge and awareness of the training from the employee as possible. Again, the employee may or may not be aware of what already exists within the organization. Here are some examples of questions that could be added to the form:

QuestionGuidance (including answer guidance on your form will help the requestor to provide well-rounded answers). 
What specific situation, challenge or need is prompting this request[Describe the scenario where the lack of this training has caused an issue.]
Type of training required[Provide a brief description of the topics and skills for which you require training.]
Preferred format for training[Online, instructor-led, 1:1, mentoring, etc.]
Do you have existing materials or resources that can be used as content for this training?[Briefly describe any existing resources.]

Asking the requester for business impact may be a bit trickier. No doubt, employees nowadays are accustomed to framing any request, be it office supplies, SaaS software subscriptions, hardware, or conference participation, in terms of the potential business impact on the organization. Here are some examples of questions that might appear in your form:

QuestionGuidance
What skills or competencies will be learned?[Describe the specific hard or soft skills that learners will gain.]
Please describe the desired business outcome from this training.
[How does the training relate to corporate goals and objectives?]
How will you measure the effectiveness of this training?[Performance reviews, skills checks, department performance, etc.]

As you start to create questions like these for your request form, you’ll see how you can capture data that frames the request in terms of strategic business importance. The questions can also provide early insight into the instructional design needs (again, think ADDIE) for a potential course as a result of the request.

You may want to do some testing of the system, then make adjustments as needed. You may find that certain questions do not receive an adequate number of responses, or the responses vary in length and quality. As such, you may need to re-phrase the question or provide examples to help the requester communicate more clearly.

As you receive these requests, we recommend that L&D create a scoring system that helps the team evaluate which training gets built and which do not.

If the training intake process is completely digitized—along with your course design system and authoring tools—you can measure the ROI of your courses from intake to final assessment. As such, your course development and delivery process now has an additional layer of insight added.

You can share this information with employees, too, as it will build excitement that a training request eventually became a course that delivered impact.

Want a ready-made training request form?

Check out this free downloadable template!

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