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Design & Development Time


What is the ratio of time for design an development of a training class?

e.g Is it 40 hours of D&D for 1 hour of class time?

What industry experts and/or reference material support this ratio?

Steve Jacobson

6 Responses

  1. I’ve got a piece of string
    …and I’m still wondering how long it is.

    Seriously though, we’ve had this discussion on training zone before and the answer is simply – it depends.

    If you want to use accelerated learning the development time maybe as little as an hour for a full day event.

    For structured (such as software) training it might be 20 hours for a day but if you do a lot of that kind of training you can re-use modules and get the time down.

    And so on and so on…

    People may quote standard ratios but I’d love to know how they justify them.

    It’s taken me less than a week to develop a two week course.

    it’s taken me six weeks to develop a one day course and all manners in between.

    Your best guide is experience – how long do you think it will take? Then add a bit of “padding” and you know how long to budget for.

    Sorry I can’t be more specific but honestly you just can’t be.

  2. String, rope, thread and beads
    I agree with Nik and suggest you can start refining the string/rope/thread you need and the amount of decoration (beads)through experience.

    Anything that needs university or professional level new qualifications, for example, will need far more than 40 hours D&D because committee meetings and their preparation take forever (about 20 personhours to one hour sat in a meeting is a working rule of thumb).

    Number-next course in a simple series of inhouse 30 minute training sessions can be 8 personhours including all the name tents, room books and suchlike.

    So, no industry standard – but perhaps one rule of thumb does work: no matter what the level of project it seems to take a day a month in standing-still admin when it is in “pending” or “slipped” mode. Most clients both accept this and pay for it – so anyone working within a company and needing to justify a timesheet, might like to factor that in.

  3. Design time ratio
    There is only one answer to a question like this – it depends.
    The design time is going to depend on many varying factors such as: the technical nature of the content, the complexity of any exercises or case studies, the difficulty in sourcing of materials, the number of handouts, the assurance process (and how many people want to put their finger in the pie), the technology involved, the amount of material currently available, and, most importantly, the experience of the designer.
    For the most complex programmes it might take as much as 40 days to design 1 day but I would regard that as an exception rather than a rule. Most of the training I am involved with takes about 3 days to design for 1 day of delivery. To tailor a programme where some materials already exist this often comes down to about half a day.
    So, as you can see, simple ratios are pretty meaningless. I think you need to work out what is reasonable in each circumstance and go with that.
    If the designer is inexperienced, give them longer at first but do expect them to get faster. If you want a quality design and you need it quickly, use an expert designer.

  4. Hopefully less vague than the string!
    I agree with all comments made before. However, when you are running a training business within a company (as I have done for many years), you have to use some metrics for development time vs. teaching time. So, I attempt to write here the ratios I have used…

    For experienced trainer and subject-matter expert, with totally new course – approx. 20 or 25 to 1. However, this can still vary with the complexity of the subject.
    For experienced trainer with less familiar subject, that can extend to about 40 to 1. For less experienced trainer who knows the subject well, this can also extend to about 40 to 1.
    These may sound like large numbers, but in my definition of design and development, it includes all learner materials, exercises, trainers materials, visual aids etc.. Even then, the person(s) concerned is/are working VERY hard!! Hope this helps…
    Last comment – you notice I haven’t put any numbers down for less experienced trainer with less familiar subject… Simply because it should not be attempted, if high quality training is required 😉

  5. how long is a piece of string…
    Apparently, a piece of string is exactly twice as long as half it’s length…

    Tongue firmly in cheek…!

    Best wishes,


  6. string or rope?
    As all the previous contributors have said it does depend.

    However I will disagree with Nik that acc learning can take very little development time. From my experience a programme that is developed using Experiential or action learning CAN take as little as an hour to develop IF you know the material well.

    BUT accelerated learning if done properly can take 10’s of hours to develop one hour of training delivery. Developing mnemonics, images, stories, tracing music, building & designing loops etc

    There are trainers that sometimes confuse “brain friendly” with experiential learning. This stems from one well known organisation running “train the trainer” in accelerated learning that actually teaches experiential learning – nuf said??

    Both are valid approaches depending on the output need, content and participant preferences.



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