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Sheridan Webb

Keystone Development

Training Design Consultant

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Doing More with Less


In common with many other independent trainers, I have found 'budget' to be a recurrent theme with clients this year. Companies still want to invest in training, but the dilemma of how to spend a limited budget has been an issue for many. In my years of providing training solutions through and previously, I've seen, heard about, recommended and implemented many different approaches that may help to stretch that training budget a little further. Here are my top 8.

1. Use self-directed learning. Whether it is e-learning, traditional 'paper-based' distance learning or task-based activities, giving individuals the resources, permission and time to take control of their own learning can produce excellent results with moderate up-front investment and almost zero on-going costs.

2. Use bite-sized learning sessions. Half of the work I have been asked to do this year is to design short (90 minute to 2 hour) training sessions on very specific topics that can be run in-house. This approach allows individuals to get the training they need, whilst limiting the impact on every day operations (no-one minds if you attend a 2 hour meeting, right?)

3. Use action-learning sets. One of my key clients encourages 70% of individual development to be 'experience-based' through projects, job-swapping and peer-support. It's a great way to take advantage of the learning opportunities that naturally exist whilst doing the work of the company.

4. Train internal trainers. As career progression may be limited in the current climate, asking people to volunteer to be departmental trainers is a great way of adding value to them, and ensuring on-going training for everyone else. One of my global clients has invested heavily in a select group, knowing it is worthwhile as they can then go and train hundreds or thousands of others in selected topics, in their own locations.

5. Use freelance consultants instead of large consultancies. An obvious one, but if you must buy-in expertise, take the time to find a freelancer that meets your needs. Ask for recommendations, and check out their credentials (most will be listed on or Generally, you will be paying around 50% of the the fees you would if you went for a larger consultancy.

6. Make better use of coaching. Use qualified coaches for senior staff, and train managers in basic coaching skills to encourage a coaching culture. Coaching can improve performance a tiny bit every day, but unlike workshops, the impact is day after day, not just one big hit. Again, a moderate investment can have a big impact.

7. Invest in quality design. Clearly I'm going to recommend this as this is my core business. If you pay someone to write bespoke training for you, you own it, and you can use it as many times as you want, using any trainer that you want. The initial investment is worth it as the more times you run it, the cheaper (per event/per head) it becomes.

8. Encourage social network learning. New platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and industry specific websites such as Trainingzone offer excellent learning opportunities through tips, discussion groups and links. Be clear about what people can and cannot use these platforms for, but don't simply switch off the raft of learning that is available for fear of misuse.

So, let's think more broadly about learning and development, keep training our people, and let's NOT let a limited budget stop of from achieving great things next year!

Sheridan Webb - Designer of flexible training solutions

One Response

  1. Spreading the goodwill around

    Hi Sheridan,

    great tips here for creating effective learning opportunities, and making the most of budget, in addition I would recommend Identifying opportunities for individuals to transfer learning as soon as possible following the training through post training assignments. This can be encouraged through an activity where the learners produce a job aid to help their managers support ongoing development of their new skills. Approx: 20% of the critical skills needed to do a job are provided by training programs; 80% are learned on the job. Effective assimilation or transfer of training is, therefore, highly important.

    Joy Wilson

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Sheridan Webb

Training Design Consultant

Read more from Sheridan Webb

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