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Sally Bernham

Idyia Coaching and Development


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Preparation time for workshops?


 Does anyone know of any sector benchmarks as to what would be a reasonable time proportionately for trainers/learning and development advisers to prepare for soft skills or IT workshops?

I appreciate there are many variables such as experience, familiarity with material etc but any views or guidance welcomed. I have seen something which suggests a 40/1 ratio which seems excessive to me.

20 Responses

  1. Design Time

    I assume you are talking about the research, design and development of training materials, rather than the personal preparation that a trainer does before an event?

    I can’t comment on e-learning, but I’ve heard ratios from 8:1 to 40:1 as being usual, depending on complexity I guess. 

    For more traditional training, I usually quote clients 3 days R&D for each day’s delivery as a standard. Sometimes it takes longer (e.g. if there is a lot of detailed bespoke content, or if lots of case studies and role plays have to be created), occaisionally it takes less…if it is highly facilitative AND i’m going to be doing the delivery, but 3 days design to one day’s delivery seems to feel acceptable for clients, even though the reality is, it usually takes about 4 (by the time you’ve done the initial outline, done the proof-reading and all the supporting stuff like equipment lists and JIs).

    Bear in mind that I’m talking about detailed design of materials inc detailed workbooks (not just copies of slides) that may be used by trainers other than me, as I usually design training materials for businesses to use internally.

    Hope this is helpful,

    Sheridan Webb

    Keystone Development – For bespoke training design

  2. 34:1 that is the name of a game show isn’t it?

    Sadly, I have to agree with Sheridan…….

    that, BTW, is ‘sadly’ not because I have a  problem with Sheridan but just because I’d luuuuurrrrrrrrve to find a client who wanted to pay me 34 days pay to develop 1 day of training (I believe the 34:1 ratio is based on US civil service norms!) 


  3. My feeling too …

    Thanks for your response, Sheridan. I would agree with the 3-1 ratio and that it depends on so many variables.

    A client asked for guidance on what could be expected of their own internal trainers and I thought I would get views from the learning and development community.

  4. Interesting figures …

    Hi Mark

    Thanks for the link which offers interesting reading. I’m not sure where they get some of these generous estimates from. My experience tells me it is around a 3-1 ratio.



  5. Call my Bluff?

    Hi Rus

    Thanks for your reply. I’m seeking feedback on my own estimates for a client. I agree that some of these figures are very ‘generous’ …



  6. Sounds about right to me

    I agree with Sheridan and Rus – 3 or 4 to 1 seems to cover it. How can anyone justify charging for 40 days for a 1 day programme????



  7. Dugan Laird (1985)

    ….. of course everyone read the link I posted and noted that 3 to 2 hours of prep time per hour of training was quoted as estimates for the US civil service 🙂

    Experience wise I think that many trainers stick with what they know (particularly for ‘soft skills’) and adapt the same old tried and tested content to attempt to meet quite different needs and so both disappoint the client and fail to meet the learning objectives.  But it’s quick in terms of design! I think this is often because many trainers are not necessarily skilled instructional designers  and may be ‘afraid’ of realistically charging for time not spent in front of the client and time spent truly creating something new.

    As the world changes and more emphasis is placed upon technology enabled learning such as webinars, social media and asynchronous e-learning, wikis, communities of practice etc then the costing ratios of design to delivery change dramatically.  How do you calculate the ratio of design to delivery for a community of practice?

    In the end, is it about design time or the value created?


  8. Another resource

    Another resource is Chapman’s 

    How Long Does it Take to Create Learning? A Chapman Alliance, Research Study, September 2010 ( ) .

    This is based on research from a large number of companies (349) and shows development times for classroom, elearning and simulation. However, it is possible that these are developments from scratch and do not include reuse/customisation of learning objects and course structures. However, having said that the research is useful as a negotiation tool/proof that you are giving the client a good deal!!!

    Jeremy Hall


  9. ?

    Mark’s comment;

    "I think this is often because many trainers are not necessarily skilled instructional designers  and may be ‘afraid’ of realistically charging for time not spent in front of the client and time spent truly creating something new."

    The two statements are not really linked; there are many highly skilled instructional designers who can and do regularly create genuinely new and innovative material that fulfills the need sof the client, but if we extrapolate the figures from the resource quoted, we would be asking a client to pay the equvalent of a year’s salary for a one week programme.

    That would have been a very hard sell even back in the good ol’ days of milk and honey.  In the current economic climate, if I proposed a fee in this sort of region they would probably either

    a) laugh as they threw me from the building or

    b) phone for the chaps in the white coats or

    c) suggest that I had more chance of winning the National Lottery


  10. For what it’s worth

    For what it’s worth we work on a 20/1 ratio. Thats for a "proper" full blown technical course with good qualty delegate and trainer notes and supporting material.

    If someone wanted a days Training in Presentation Skills or Train the Trainer etc it would be more in the region of 3/1

  11. 20:1


    are you including in this 20 the time of an SME and an instructional designer, if they aren’t the same person?


  12. 20/1


    Most of our new courses involve 3 or more people to produce so this includes all time from all involved. SME’s Graphic Designer and me…all combine into 20/1.

    20/1 is mostly used for costing new projects and is based on an average of any previous course that has been produced.

    Bearing in mind these are not 1 off events but are sent to 80 countries and delivered by many different trainers and could have a shelf life of many years so 20/1 not too bad.

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