How to prioritise training for evaluation

Should all training be evaluated? Not always and certainly not at all levels is my view.  Resources are scarce and whilst training evaluation is a vital activity, it should be applied intelligently to ensure that it is money, time and energy well spent.

I have developed a simple method that you might find useful, in an attempt to prioritise training that should be considered for evaluation.  It is most applicable to those within organisations who want to evaluate their own training.  I’ll consider a different approach for external training providers another day.

My priority scoring system…

It is based on a system of creating different categories upon which you score a particular training event or programme to determine how important you feel conducting training evaluation is.  Stay with me whilst I discuss ‘scores’ and ‘categories’, I will explain these in a moment.   If you go through the scoring process for all your training you’ll generate a prioritised list which should help you identify where your training evaluation effort is applied first – in theory, those that score the highest.

The scores you will have determined for each of the categories you have created will involve some subjective judgments.  However, you will at least have a logical (and auditable if this is important) path to illustrate the rationale behind your decision-making.  In generating the scores, where necessary you should engage othersothers may include department heads or senior management in order to gain their perspective on the potential contribution made to the business by various training courses. within your organisation to make sure your final priority list remains credible.  This may mean that the training department can’t complete this task in isolation.

How do you score?

In order to score each category you will need to develop a scale relevant to that category for you to judge your training against.  For example, if you have a category that looks at cost you may generate a scale similar to the following:

Scale <3k 3k <10k 10k <25k 25k <50k 50k+
Score 1 2 3 4 5

Naturally, the scales that you adopt will need to be relevant to your particular business or service.  Note that you’ll need to maintain a consistent scoring value, unless you want to give more ‘weight’ (ie importance) to one category over another.

What are the different categories?

Ok, let me now explain my categories….they’re based on the following acronym that I have developed: EVAL-IT?

E = Evidence
V = Value generated
A = Annual throughput
L = Liability
I = Investment levels
T = Time
? = Decision time

Hopefully each category that I have outlined should be sufficiently generic to be applied to your workplace.  Below is an explanation of each one in a little more detail:

E is for Evidence…

How important is it to you or your stakeholders that you have actual evidence to prove that a particular aspect of your training is really hitting the spot.  If you (and senior management) are happy to go with an intuitive feel then a process that collects lots of data may not be necessary.  Clearly, the judgment you reach should vary depending on the training in question being content with intuition for all your training may not be the most sensible way ahead).

V is for Value generated…

How core to the organisation is this particular training programme?  Are the skills and/or knowledge gained from the training vital in raising revenue for the business?  Are the skills and/or knowledge critical in providing the key outputs of the service?

A is for Annual through-put…

Whilst it shouldn’t always be a matter of numbers, you may be particularly keen to ensure your getting those training courses right that large numbers of your employees have to attend.

L is for Liability…

What are the consequences if a particular element of training isn’t right?  Could there be the potential for injury or even worse to either the individual themselves or a member of the public?

I is for Investment levels…

You may have a course that even though annual through-put numbers are low, the training programme is very expensive for the few that complete it.

T is for Time-lag…

When did you last evaluate this particular event?  If it was 5 years ago it may be worth confirming that your training hasn’t drifted away from the needs of the business.

? is for decision time…

Once you have generated your total scores it’s time to decide which training your going to evaluate first.  The next step is then to develop a plan of action for the training that you’re going to evaluate.

A one-to-one webinar to develop your own EVAL-IT? matrix…

Hopefully this method introduces a useful start point to prioritise which training to evaluate.  I am going to develop a webinar that will enable us to explore this technique on a one-to-one basis.  The output of individual webinars will be a customized EVAL-IT? matrix for use in your own organisation.  I’ll post again once the webinar is complete but if you think you might be interested then get in touch.

What methods do you use when selecting training for evaluation?  Do you think the EVAL-IT? process would work for you?  Please leave a comment below.

2 Responses to How to prioritise training for evaluation

  1. Waithera at 10:34 am #

    Thanks Richard,
    Just wondering can EVAL-IT? be used for other purposes apart from scoring but still in training evaluation?

    • Richard at 10:55 am #

      Hi. Did you have something specific in mind? You could certainly use it as a general framework for considering whether you were going to evaluate a particular programme or not. The scoring element is really focused on helping prioritise activity where resources are limited. Let me know in the comments below if you are thinking about something in particular and I’ll see if I can help further. Regards, Richard.

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