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Impress Your Boss; Use Technology To Get More From Your Training Budget


When budgets are tight lots of buyers immediately try to squeeze their current suppliers and get the prices down.  It may work in the short term but generally it backfires in the longer run; it makes the suppliers unhappy and that frequently affects quality and commitment.

An alternative is to actually look at what you are doing overall.  Look at the typical “training and development spend”, it is predominantly made up of several different components:

1.     Development cost of the actual learning materials

2.     Cost of someone to actually come and deliver them (including their travel cost)

3.     Overhead costs of training room hire etc

4.     Loss of productivity costs for the people attending the training event

5.     Travel expenses for the people attending

Imagine how much more you could do if you were able to reduce the cost of #2 by 50%, remove #3 altogether and, reduce #4 by 50% and eradicate #5 altogether!

Here are three ways that you can use technology to impress your boss (and the MD and the Finance Director and probably everyone else as well!)

a. Use webinar technology to deliver trainer-led events. The technology has come a long, long way in the past three years; anyone can log on from their own workstation and can take part in a fully interactive, small group training session.  So long as they have and audio card and speakers or headphones they can enjoy all the benefits of tailored and engaging learning.  In fact they don’t even have to be at a “workstation”, one delegate is reported to have taken part from the departure lounge of London City Airport on her smart phone!  This methodology allows you to “push” learning opportunities to your people in a similar way to classroom learning but at a fraction of the cost.

b. Allow access to ‘on demand’ learning. A major benefit of technology is the ability of a person to access it “at the time of need”, rather than having to apply for a place on a course in three weeks (or months) time.  In other words this is “pull” learning; all you do as an L&D department is provide the access. There are numerous online “tool-kits” that allow anyone in the organisation to log in as and when they need to.  Say a manager has appraisals interviews coming up; he or she can immediately refresh themselves on the topic or pick up hints and tips.  Some have over 200 topics, organised in an easily searchable format. These can be as much for people who aren’t managers as it has for the management cadre; you can find personal development learning as well as management topics.  These sorts of sites range from the deliberately pragmatic and down-to-earth to the more academic and theoretical. They also range from being predominantly made up of free standing collected articles, to specially written ‘books’ to little couple-of-minute videos. This range suits all learner preferences that are available online. 

c. Tweet. Yes, twitter can be a genuine learning opportunity as well as a chance to tell people that you” just bought broccoli lol”.  You can use tweets to either send out pithy one-liners that are technical reminders, motivators, reminders of events or links to useful online resources.  It is virtually free and takes up very little time for the learners. Everyone carries a mobile phone with them so it is extremely accessible.  This allows you to “push” and it allows the learners to “pull” via use of the discussion hashtags.

I’ve set out three options in this blog; I’d love to hear your suggestions and/or recommendations for either other ways where L&D can offer useful learning stuff, free or low cost.

10 Responses

  1. Technology is a great

    Technology is a great alternative Steve but surely one of the biggest cost cutters is to simply have training done in house? That cut's out hire, travel and other expenses and let's face it the cost of the individual to provide the training won't really change. 

    Nothing wrong with tech by all means but you'll find that the content retention rate via a webinar may not be as high as a live face to face session. Nonetheless a great article!

  2. Really?

    TST1 says

    "…'ll find that the content retention rate via a webinar may not be as high as a live face to face session."

    That depends entirely on the content, the design, the delivery and the learners.  I have heard people come out of live face to face sessions declaring that they are brain dead and absorbed nothing after the opening H&S brief.

    Modern webinars are potentially brilliant when used properly.



  3. Yes but…

    I attended a webinar last week by a very profficient facillitator. Probably the best one I have ever attended…after 20 minutes I was cheking my email and multi tasking…it is good and definetely part of what "we" should be doing but 15 minutes max I think.

    If she couldn't keep my attention then a less experienced person wouldn't last 5 minutes.

    More importantly…what did I learn in 60 minutes?

    A) No idea  

  4. was it an interactive, small group webinar, Steve?

    if it was then your facilitator could should have been able to see that you were checking email and should have addressed you directly, as she might have done had you been spending most of the time in her classroom texting!


  5. Empower your learners!

    One of the things that strikes me as a huge waste currently, and an equally huge saving potentially, is doing what one can to capture and harness the learning that occurs  – unstructured and organically – in today's knowledge economy.

    We've all heard the oft-mentioned figure of '38% of knowledge worker time is spent searching for information' (Source: ) – even if this stat is wildly off, that amount of exploratory search time needs to be cut!

    Learning is happening within most organisations whenever a worker encounters a problem, challenge or gap in their skills and discovers or devises a solution that works. Putting systems in place to convert this informal just-in-time learning into an organisation-wide asset is itself a challenge to develop and deliver, but a huge amount of cognitive (and physical!) activity is being wasted currently by individuals assembling fragmentary skills and info that serves no-one but themselves, when there could be entire teams of people who would benefit from a shared space where the latest learning resources and skills can be assembled, curated, and validated.

    Steve is bang-on here in saying that social media tech is going to be a part of the mix. People share info and resources with their pals and peers every day via Facebook, Twitter or Youtube – getting them to do this in the workplace shouldn't be so hard!

  6. Great video

    Thanks Steve,

    Very light hearted approach to the webinar – shame we don't get to see the response!



  7. Good insight Rob

    It's interesting what you say there Rob, people learning in 'silos' then the next person having to learn the same thing. Maybe we need centralised FAQ/Wikipedia style internal company pages where posts can be made and other can search quickly – an online knowledge base. 

  8. Exactly!

    Hi Steve – I think that's true, but whatever knowledge-archive or system is put in place needs to be as reliable, dynamic and user-friendly as the already-mentioned spaces where people are already finding out the critical knowledge they need to do their jobs. It needs to be social, informal, mobile, allow for coaching and curation etc.

    If an in-house department can't supply this kind of space, the learners will design and construct their own personal learning networks, bypassing L&D entirely.

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