The Role of Instructional Design Once a training specialist has written the course's learning objectives and confirmed…
Timeliness vs. Quality
Sometimes, a company has to choose between getting a training project done (timeliness) and getting the training project right (quality). Here are some reasons that companies make their choices:
|Reasons to Choose Timeliness
|Reasons to Choose Quality
Although some companies try to save time by skipping the needs analysis, they may not save time overall. Unanswered questions from the analysis phase can bring the design and development process to a complete halt.
The First Steps to Quality Training
The first phase in the ADDIE instructional design model is the analysis phase. Great training programs don’t come together by accident. They require planning and analysis. You’ll produce the best training if you first analyze three important areas:
- Business Goals – what do you want to achieve
- Content – what kind of material is being trained
- Learners – what are the current capabilities of your audience
Let’s examine how the ADDIE analysis phase works.
The Value of a Needs Analysis
We’re regularly contacted by clients that have important and urgent training projects. Sometimes, a client will ask Intulogy to skip the analysis phase and jump straight to training development. They’ll say, “Let’s get people writing training materials now!” However, that can be a risky and very costly approach.
Carpenters utilize the old adage, “measure twice; cut once.” Even though carpenters are talking about wood, and we’re talking about training, we share a common goal—do it right the first time. So, we could change the carpenter’s old adage to fit the ADDIE methodology. “Analyze fully; design once.”
The ADDIE analysis phase serves a major role in the quality assurance process. It defines the project’s needs and ways to measure its success. If you skip the ADDIE analysis phase, you can easily introduce mistaken assumptions into the project.
- Wrong focus—the course content may not address the company’s business needs
- Too easy or too hard—the course could bore or frustrate the learners
- Incomplete, redundant, or inaccurate content—the course might not teach the correct material
If you rush to development, you may not catch those errors until you launch the course. At that point, it can be very costly to fix or redesign the course. In essence, the training needs analysis is time well-spent.
Who Guides the Needs Analysis?
During the needs analysis phase, the training specialist may speak with many people to learn about the project and its overall goals. Here are just a few examples of individuals who can provide information:
- Project sponsors (executives or senior leadership)—who can discuss the business goals and objectives
- Subject matter experts—who can describe undocumented knowledge
- Representative members of the target audience—who can demonstrate their current skills and behaviors
It is often critical to work with anyone who will be impacted by or have influence on the final training product.
Questions that Drive the Analysis
When you start your project with a training needs analysis, you collect critical information about business needs, learners’ capabilities, and course content. Here are some of the questions that a training specialist may ask during the ADDIE analysis phase:
- What are the business needs driving this training project?
- What are the goals and objectives for this training project?
- How will you define success for both the learner and the project?
- How will you measure that success?
- Who is the intended training audience?
- What do the members of the learning audience already know?
- What do they need to learn?
- What resources are already available?
The training specialist uses the answers to these, and any possible combination of other questions, to write the course’s performance objectives.
Steps in the Needs Analysis
There are five steps that Intulogy’s training specialists perform during the ADDIE analysis phase:
- Discover any existing materials
- Define measurable business goals
- Conduct an instructional analysis
- Analyze learners and contexts
- Write learning objectives
We’ll review each of these steps in more detail in coming blogs. Let’s take a look now at what can happen in the real world.
ADDIE Analysis in the Workplace
Real World Choices
If your company has an immediate training need, it’s tempting to skip over the training needs analysis phase and just start writing the actual training materials. You could save production time, but will you actually save money? Many companies wrestle with this question, because they want to make the right choice.
In this article, Intulogy looks at the ADDIE analysis phase from a real-world perspective. We offer some insights into the general risks, benefits, and tradeoffs involved when you reduce or omit the analysis phase. We can’t make this decision for you, but we can help you ask intelligent questions that can lead to the right choice for your project and your company.
The Tough Questions
If you’re thinking about reducing the scope of your project’s training needs analysis, here are some questions that will help you assess your level of risk:
- What might happen if our company skips over the ADDIE analysis phase and starts creating course content?
- How will the course’s quality (and results) be affected?
- How much development could the company save?
- If we discover something later on and have to fix it, will it take more time or cost more in the long run?
In many ways, your choice will be an economic one. If you choose speed over quality, you want to make sure that you’re not stepping over dollars to pick up dimes.
Analysis and Quality Assurance
The ADDIE analysis phase serves as a formal planning and quality assurance process. It defines the project’s objectives using the language of instructional design, and it validates that the course will meet the company’s needs and the learners’ needs. If you don’t perform the needs analysis, you will increase the project’s risk.
In many ways, a training project is very similar to a software development project. If you were leading a software project, you could start the project by asking engineers to analyze the project’s needs and plan the application. However, you could also start the project by asking programmers to start writing code. If the programmers write code without a plan and a clear goal, they’re likely to produce a software application that doesn’t quite do what it needs to do. The code may also have a lot of bugs that may not be discovered until late in the development cycle or even post-launch.
In the software industry, one standard metric states that QA planning and review activities produce a 10:1 return on investment. It’s less costly to prevent software bugs through planning than by fixing them line by line in the code. The same principle applies to training projects. If you can identify mistaken assumptions during the assessment phase, it’ll be easier and less expensive to correct them. If you wait until the training materials have been written, it’ll be more expensive to go back and make changes.
A Risk-based Scenario
Imagine that a pharmaceutical company creates a training program for newly-hired account managers. However, time is short, and the company decides not to perform a training needs analysis. The instructional designer creates the course with the assumption that the new account managers will have some previous experience in the pharmaceutical industry.
The course doesn’t explain important industry jargon and terms. However, the company’s management chooses to hire experienced account managers who don’t have experience with pharmaceuticals. When the company discovers this problem, the training specialist must redesign the training at the proper level for their learners.
Although the company saved some time and money by skipping the analysis phase, they lost money because the program needed to be reworked to fit the learners’ needs. Thus, the company would be under more time constraints to get the redesign done before launch. With redesigns, it doesn’t take long to add up to the point where the analysis phase might have comparatively cost dimes and the redesigns and patches cost dollars.
Watch for our next blog where we’ll talk in detail about the steps in the Analysis phase of ADDIE.