Since the beginning of 2020, many companies have moved quickly to implement agile, effective learning and development programs. With these programs came a sudden shift to new processes, priorities, and content. While these programs are essential to staying effective in 2021, they have also left many learning and development departments disorganized, content-logged, and inefficient. Now that organizations are beginning to settle into the new normal of virtual, remote, and agile work, it’s a great time to analyze your learning and development resources, more particularly their organization, and their necessity.
When examining your learning and development content, lets first take a look at how it’s structured. There are two ways in which your organization can house educational programs:
- Through a central LMS. Many large corporations opt to utilize a Learning Management System (LMS) to keep their employee development programs in one central place. This can be beneficial for businesses that implement many learning programs. Furthermore, it can help organize, deliver, track, and report on training programs, which can clean up quite a bit of bothersome peripheral work.
- Individually, on a project-by-project basis. Many organizations prefer to design, develop, and implement their learning projects independent of one another through different platforms. This is a more agile approach that eliminates the overhead of an expensive, complex LMS, but it sacrifices some efficiency and simplicity.
Both of these methods can be effective organizational formats, but what’s more important is the intentionality behind them. If you’re a large organization that frequently implements company-wide training initiatives, having an LMS (or similar alternative) can save you time and money. Similarly, if you value agile learning solutions, you can still stay organized without an LMS.
One great way to evaluate your learning and development origination is through a content audit. A content audit is the process of collecting and analyzing your L&D materials, such as learning modules and performance support tools. This will give you a good baseline of what content you have, what you are working on, and what you will need in the future. Here’s how we suggest you set up your content audit.
Step 1: Think of your objectives and goals. Ultimately, the purpose of a L&D content audit is to create a more organized, effective learning and development program within your organization. The goal of your content audit should be to identify and analyze every aspect of your learning and development library, and then take the necessary steps to streamline and clean up those content pieces. You can also align audit goals with broader organizational goals; if management wants to see process streamlining across departments, a learning and development audit is a great place to start.
Step 2: Gather your content. This is perhaps the most “easier said than done” section of a content audit. If your organization has a designated learning and development team, you’ll have to work to gather content from team members. Start by collecting all of your recent projects, then work on finding resources that are no longer being used. If you do not have a designated learning and development department, this can be more complex. Try to work with Human Resources to gather current training content, then consult with them on where performance support, archived courses, and other learning and development content might be housed.
Step 3: Categorize your content. Assuming you were able to gather all of your learning and development content, the next step is categorizing it. We suggest breaking it into four separate groups:
- Courses that are currently being used
- Courses that are not currently being used but may be used in the future
- Performance support content
- Content and courses that are useless
Once you’ve gathered, identified, and sorted your learning and development content, the next step is to create action items. Action items help you establish goals that can be acted upon to improve your L&D programs. Action items can vary from organizing content to further development of content, or even to the elimination of certain programs.
Start with your current courses—what do you want to see change? More often than not, courses that are currently being used can be left alone. You’ve worked hard to craft a solution for your learners, so we suggest you wait until those courses are completed to make any changes. One action item to consider is setting measurable goals or metrics to help you determine the effectives of these programs. This will help you better develop in the future.
Courses that are not currently being used but will be used in the future can have a few action items assigned to them. The most important is considering whether or not these L&D materials need a refresh before their return. Often times, learning programs are set aside to be used later and slowly become irrelevant as regulations, in demand skills, and priorities change. If you have programs that are planning on a comeback, consider setting some goals to refresh them so they’re up to date.
For content and courses that are useless, consider a few action items. Company policy may require that these courses are archived for records. In that case, sorting and categorizing those courses is the best course of action. If you really want to take a deep dive into your learning and development history, you can attempt to extract metrics from those courses—depending on how they were developed, they may have some data available that will help you better design future courses.
Learning and development professionals have done a great job of shifting to support new business priorities over the last 12-16 months. Taking time to re-evaluate your learning and development content and courses will position your organization for a successful L&D future, and can lead to better learner outcomes in the future.