The importance of training requests and how you process them cannot be understated. The information you capture will inform everything else that follows, and a mistake or misinterpretation at this stage could cost you precious time when you have to correct the problem further down the line.
The training request should capture information about the goal and objectives and expected performance improvement or skills acquired as a result of the training. Other information captured at this stage usually includes things like department, manager/sponsor, intended audience, and method (instructor-led, elearning course, etc).
In many organizations, the process of capturing training requests is still highly manual. Employees and managers are using email, PDF forms, Word docs, and spreadsheets to submit requests, often on an ad-hoc basis and expecting a quick response. This can put the training department under a lot of pressure to quickly process and respond to an overwhelming amount of urgent requests.
Even if you have a more sophisticated intake process, if your intake form is not properly formatted, you could find yourself scheduling unnecessary meetings to fully understand the request before deciding whether to accept it.
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Effective training requests = effective course design
The trick with training requests is to try and ensure a seamless flow from request to design. If you’re capturing the right information and using the right technology, an accepted training request should provide the framework for the course to be built. Copying and pasting information from training request forms to development tools adds time, costs and complexity to the training development process, especially if the information is irrelevant or incomplete.
Here are some of the most important pieces of information to capture at the initial request stage:
A name and email won’t tell you much about the person requesting the training program. You should also be capturing things like job title, department, and line manager. This information will tell you the seniority of the person which can be an indication of how urgent the training is or how you should prioritize the request.
Topic of training
A lot can change from the initial request to the final version of a course. An employee might request training on a certain topic, only for you to conclude that this is something best done in a peer-to-peer training format.
For L&D, you may receive many requests for the same topic, and being able to group them accordingly can highlight the demand for a specific skill.
Encourage employees to be as specific as possible when it comes to the topic so you can categorize and prioritize accordingly.
The person submitting the request is not always the employee taking the training. If a request is being submitted on behalf of the learner by their manager or another stakeholder, it’s important that you capture the learner information as well as the details of the person submitting the request.
You should know the positions, titles, and existing knowledge/skill level of the learners at this stage of the training development process. When it comes to a smooth transition from request to development, you’ll already have captured the information you need about your audience in order to design effective training.
Desired skills/knowledge from training
You may receive requests for skills or topics that are only loosely related to an employee’s role or a department’s function.
What you really want to look for at the initial request level is the business impact. Requests for training that have the biggest potential impact on the business’s bottom line should be prioritized, whether that’s risk-mitigating compliance training or performance improvement for a particular skill.
Ideal format for training
This field is often seen in training request forms. While it’s useful to know how the employee wants to take the training on an individual level, it may be more cost-effective to take another route, especially if it is a department-wide request.
For example, the request may state a preference for instructor-led training, but your experience and the rest of the request tells you that producing an elearning course would be more efficient. Understanding expectations from the start will help you to manage them later on when you begin the training development process.
Requested start date
Employees will always want to take the training sooner rather than later, but you know that resources don’t always allow for that. However, getting an initial understanding of the requester's expectations (coupled with their seniority in the organization) can help you to prioritize requests accordingly.
Is there existing training?
Again, it’s all about quickly prioritizing your workload. Is this an entirely new course that needs to be created, or is it a much quicker update or add-on to existing training? Does peer learning already take place on this topic or is this a brand new skill for the department?
Ideally, there should be a simple way to capture the training request, capture the requirements at whatever level of detail is provided, and seamlessly collaborate with the originator and others. And this should continue as you move into the needs analysis and then downstream into the design, development, delivery, and content management. Without a systematic way to organize and manage this, you will wind up with a collection of disparate documents and forms with duplicate information, which will lead to errors and delays.