Training Department Success: Start Small and Scale up Fast!


Training departments have always had to do more with less. Today, getting more done with fewer resources is much easier. Technology can easily handle the operations side of running a training department. That is, if you have the right technology. Everything we’ve learned over the last 25 years has led to amazing advances in the automation of the training function.  This is making it easier and easier for small businesses to run training departments like large organizations. And it’s allowing large organizations to spend more time on broader solutions and less on the manual processes of training operations. Training departments can and will be more productive and valuable to their organizations than ever before. Special thanks to learning platforms.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, consider a new company, or new division within an enterprise, that is just getting started. In the past, training responsibilities were spread across the organization with engineers, product specialists, and others, leading instructor-led training sessions. Until they grew enough to hire a training professional to manage the process and take the burden off the subject matter experts. And then, if things are going well, the company is still growing and you need to scale up the training organization to meet the demand. This may be oversimplifying a complicated process, but it’s the common story of every successful business that one day scales up enough to be running large global training and certification programs.

You probably find yourself somewhere on this spectrum of training maturity.

  1. Training responsibilities spread across team of subject matter experts
  2. One training professional responsible for managing all aspects of the training function
  3. Small training team managing training operations and growing the course library
  4. Large training team managing training operations scaling up to meet demand
  5. Enterprise Learning and Development Org centralized within HR providing broader learning solutions

And as enterprises continue to grow their L&D organization, new divisions within the same company are often starting specialized training process back at #1. And the entire growth process continues.

And, of course, there are variations. Nothing is ever so perfectly defined. You may already be a small training team but just starting your conversion from classroom to online courses. You get the idea. The spectrum of 5 states is a massive generalization. There are many reasons for how you may define the current state of your training initiatives. But it’s important to define that state, and know where you are, before you can develop a successful plan to scale up.

Starting small may seem obvious, but it’s not. I’ve been a part of implementations that required all old courses shut down, and all new courses launched at exactly the same time. That’s no fun. And it’s normally filled with major challenges after the launch. There are many reasons why you cannot avoid this “flip the switch” scenario. In certain business situations it is the only option based on many other complicated factors. But, if that is not your case, then you are positioned well to start small and scale up utilizing the power of new SaaS based learning management platforms.

Platforms like Litmos offer solutions across the entire spectrum. Litmos will grow as your organization grows. Non-training professionals can support the training function (#1) with Litmos because of its ease of use. Subject matter experts can quickly plan and launch courses intended to free up their time devoted to individual support calls. And when a training professional is finally hired to manage the training function (#2) Litmos is fully loaded with reports, and advanced administrative features possibly ignored by the subject matter experts. And as you begin to build a team (#3) and distribute other training responsibilities to team leaders, Litmos handles that as well. Your team members and other employees can be given different levels of access to help spread the responsibilities of scaling up the training function. And scaling up with a large company maturing into a global enterprise (#4 & #5) is not a problem. Cloud solutions solve the problems of scaling up. And they give you the tools to scale up quickly. There is no need to wait for long hardware implementations, or epic software updates. When you have a learning platform like Litmos you’ve got everything you need.

Start small and scale up fast. It’s how you should be thinking about your course design. But the concept also applies to the growth and maturity of your training department as it grows with the business. If you have inherited an existing training function, you should start by defining what you have. Then define where you need to go. And then invest in the Litmos platform to get you there…and beyond.