Corporations and other enterprises that operate training departments have essentially three basic organizational models to select from. Their training function can be centralized within a single entity, decentralized with multiple training groups to serve specific lines of business or geographic regions, or organized as a hybrid of the two, known as a federated model.


Here is a closer look at the three organizational models, along with an explanation of current trends that impact decisions by training departments.

A Centralized Training Organization is one in which all resources and processes are managed within a single entity, reporting to one senior executive or leadership team. The principal advantage of this model is the consistency it provides in the management of training processes across the enterprise. It is typically employed within small organizations that lack distributed facilities that span geographic locations.

A Decentralized Training Organization is one in which the training function is operated independently by certain entities throughout an enterprise. The model is often preferred to a centralized scheme by larger organizations with resources that are distributed across multiple lines of business or geographic areas. Many such organizations operate separate training departments for IT, manufacturing, sales, HR and other business groups and corporate divisions. Each decentralized training department has its own executive or leadership team that develops customized content for its specific audiences.

Federated Model centralizes certain processes of the training function within the enterprise and decentralizes others. Companies most commonly employ the federated model by centralizing processes associated with training administration while decentralizing processes for content development and delivery. Doing so combines the principal advantages offered by the other two models, a principal reason the federated model has become popular among large companies.


Many training industry consultants recommend that organizations with distributed workforces maximize their efficiencies by employing the federated model. They advise that the model represents the new world order in training organization – centralized for back office and other administrative processes yet decentralized by lines of business and/or geography for content development and delivery.

The trend is bolstered by advanced learning and internet-based technologies that enable organizations to operate popular corporate-wide learning intranet portals that serve both employees and customers. The centralized platforms allow organizations to distribute learning content to a vast audience in a consolidated way. Specific departments remain free to develop their own proprietary content for delivery to specific audiences via the site or other modalities.

By centralizing the training administration functions, including a learning content management system (LCMS), organizations can manage formal, informal and social content via the centralized site. They can also reduce redundancies throughout the enterprise, such as duplicate LCMS systems, and align learning strategies.