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How to assess if a training course will be effective

Assessing the effectiveness of a training course  

Before commencing a training project, you need to identify its cost effectiveness. In an earlier blog we spoke about cost effective training, click here to read more.

Part of the evaluation is to ensure you look at the cost of training vs the benefits and outcomes of the training.  A training course might be expensive, but if the outcomes and benefits provide the ROI, or more, then it is cost effective training.  The calculation is easy to identify, however, foreseeing if a training session will be successful is not as easy.

How to identify if a training event will be successful

Releasing a short course to your staff and hoping that knowledge transfer and skill acquiring will just happen is a dream but not reality. Standalone and one-off training sessions may have the potential to be successful when launched in the right environment. Successful training and development is acquired over time as staff have opportunities to learn, practice and apply. If you are not providing staff with opportunities for continuous learning nor enhancing knowledge retention through refreshers and repetition, then the training may not be successful.

This does not mean that the standalone training delivered was unsuccessful, rather, the execution failed. Which brings us back to where we started, it is difficult to determine if a training session will be successful. However, you can put procedures and best practice in place to implement a culture and environment of successful training and development.

Best practices for a training and development environment

When planning training sessions, look at the bigger picture. What are the outcomes of the training?

  • Is it to introduce a new staff member to the policies and procedures?
  • Do you want to increase productivity by 5%?
  • Do you want to decrease customer response rates to less than 24 hours?
  • Is it to refresh staff of fire and safety regulations?

Each of these outcomes requires a different style of training and require post-training for retention. You cannot expect that customer response rates will decrease to less than 24 hours after a standalone short course. Nor can you expect longevity and sustainability of a 5% productivity increase companywide with no revision or refresher strategy.

Once you have identified the outcome of the training you can then create the best cost-effective strategy to reach (and maintain) the outcomes.

How can you find these outcomes and opportunities for training?

Firstly, these outcomes may be decided in board or management meetings that you were not an attendee. At a later stage you are bought in to build a learning and development (L&D) plan for a predetermined outcome. Alternatively, you may be heavily involved in identifying L&D opportunities through the needs analysis you conduct with managers in performance reviews, click here to read more.

For example, during individual performance reviews of a team, you start to notice a pattern. Staff are unproductive in Microsoft Office where a lot of time is wasted in day-to-day tasks. Reports take too long to format and deliver, data is not correctly analysed and misinformation is provided requiring reworks, presentations are not visually pleasing and do not have supporting graphics inserted as expected. These errors of not knowing how to use platforms may require double entry work, which is only adding to the stress of unproductivity.

You want a highly skilled team that is productive and time-efficient. In the above example, not only is it enough to offer a short course on Microsoft Office, but to be cost-effective and successful, you need to develop an environment where staff can revisit, refresh and revise tips and tools.

Here are Corporate Training Solutions Australia (CTSA), we have created Training as a Service (TaaS) where your staff can attend any of our public training events that are guaranteed to run each month. For you, you can easily enrol staff requiring upskilling in productivity into our courses. Additionally, we offer free refreshers to your staff so that they can keep up to date with their skills.

We have combined this with the Save a Million Minutes email series that provides shortcut tips in using Microsoft Office.

Here are two examples from our email series.

Finding Unique Values in a Spreadsheet

Do you have a list of items with duplicate values and you want to quickly get a list of the unique values? Then use Advanced Filters.

  1. Select Data > Advanced.
  2. Click Copy to another location
  3. In the List Range: select the range which you would like to see a unique list from
  4. In the Copy To: select the first cell where you would like to put the results.  This must be on the same sheet.
  5. Check the Unique records only checkbox.
  6. Click OK.


Automatically updating Pivot Tables

PivotTables are an essential element of many business reporting systems.  However, they are only as good as their underlying data. This data can change quickly and, if not refreshed, risks not being reflected in the PivotTable. As PivotTables use a hidden PivotCache to speed up calculations, it is crucial to refresh the PivotTable to ensure data updates are reflected.

However, you cannot expect all users to refresh pivot tables constantly to have up to date data. Of course, it isn’t hard to refresh a pivot table, but if you have multiple in a spreadsheet that are being accessed daily (or more) that is a lot of minutes lost across the business. Here are two examples on how to automated the refresh of PivotTables.


Refresh when opening a workbook

If PivotTables are linked to an external source, you will certainly want latest data. To guarantee the most up-to-date information is included in your PivotTables, set the PivotTables to refresh when opening the file as follows:

  1. Right-click any pivot table and choose PivotTable Options.
  2. In the PivotTable Options dialog, click the Data tab.
  3. Check the Refresh data when opening the file option checkbox.
  4. Click OK and confirm the change.

When this option is set, Excel will update all PivotTables based on the same data source when opening.  Note: if you have multiple PivotTables based on different data sources, you will need to do this for each data source.


Refresh at intervals

For time sensitive data, you might need to refresh more often. This can be achieved but you will need to create the PivotTable and save to the data model.  

  1. Create the PivotTable as usual using the Insert > PivotTable command.
  2. In the PivotTable dialog box, check the Add this data to the Data Model option.
  3. Click OK and set out the PivotTable.
  4. Click into the PivotTable to activate the PivotTable.
  5. Click the Data tab. Select Properties in the Queries & Connections group.
  6. In the Connection Properties dialog box, check Refresh every and set the number of minutes for your refresh schedule.
  7. Click OK.


The Wrap Up

With TaaS, and our shortcut tips, this is how we can support you to increase your productivity and it is not a huge cost from your training budgets. TaaS is offered on a subscription-based model where the number of staff you enrol each month does not change the cost. 

Click here to learn more about TaaS and how we can support you to deliver successful and cost-effective training and development.