There’s a lot of attention on new delivery models, the desire to create shorter courses and the attempt to apply metrics to the training process. However, relatively little is being said about the fundamentals of the content development process. While there are absolutely differences in the way content is generated from one medium to another and from one organization to another, there are more similarities than there are differences. This article is the first in a series that will walk through the roles in the process, including how the process fits together and how the individual roles add to the result.

What is Training Development?

Training development refers to the creation of a training course or program designed to address a skill or cultural need. It’s development and not creation because, in some cases, the development of the training program will involve sourcing rather than creating. Sometimes, it will mean sourcing raw materials and customizing them to meet the specific organizational needs.

It’s always best to start with a search for off-the-shelf training. Much like how software developers often start coding before looking for existing tools and resources, training professionals often know they can create the training themselves. However, in many cases, that’s not what’s best for the consumer.

Understanding the Process

At the highest levels, the process of content development looks something like this:

Training Development Process

Let’s take a quick look at each of the roles:

  • The business owner is the person who is funding the project and who wants the training objective accomplished.
  • The subject matter experts are the people with the knowledge that needs to be integrated into the training program.
  • The learning designer is responsible for transforming the structure of the learning so that it is consumable by the learner.
  • The authoring role converts the structure created by the learning designer into the format required by the delivery medium.
  • The instructor delivers the training when it is instructor-led. They may also be involved as a part of the authoring process when the delivery is via prerecorded video.
  • The platform support specialist ensures that the platform is functioning when delivery is accomplished through a learning management system, video distribution network or other technology.
  • The quality control role is all about making the training better, whether during the development process or through continuing improvement.
  • The monitoring role is all about collecting the data on the effectiveness of the training program and where it can be improved. This person provides the key performance data that builds long-term confidence in the team to deliver effective training.
  • The learning manager prioritizes the various training needs across the business and coordinates resources, ensuring that the most important training needs are addressed as completely and as quickly as practical.

With the exception of the instructor and the platform specialist, each of these roles exists no matter how the training is developed and delivered. They represent the skills sets needed to produce a quality learning experience.

Roles, not People

It’s important to recognize that this model of the training development process is a set of roles, not necessarily a set of people or a prescription for staffing a training development project team. In some cases, roles like the business owner and the subject matter expert are the same person. Similarly, larger projects may require several instructional designers to accomplish the project, though there is only one “instructional designer” role.

Performance, not Training

The process of training development generally creates four types of output that improve employee performance and productivity:

  • In instructor-led training (ILT), the training development creates a program that instructors deliver to students.
  • Computer-based training (CBT) ranges from slides with voice-over to recorded ILT and in-depth simulations.
  • Resources are a grab-bag of content. They’re ad-hoc materials that employees reach for when they need a hand.
  • Productivity aids are a special class of resources designed either for use in planning for an activity or, like a checklist, for use while an employee is performing the task.

Some programs may include more than one of these outputs. In fact, good training solutions often do.

Our goal as training professionals should not be training at all. It should be improving employee performance. This broader goal is why two of the four output paths aren’t training but ways to help people perform better without attending a class, logging in to a simulation or waiting to receive the knowledge they need for what they are doing now.

While the process of creating training materials and improving employee performance may seem simple, the sheer number of roles that it takes to deliver great content demonstrates that it’s anything but simple. The next article in this series will dig into the first role: the business owner.