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If you are spearheading your organization’s implementation of a new policy, process, or system, don’t wait until a month before go-live to start thinking about your training needs.  Custom processes or systems require custom training. Just like building a custom system takes longer than installing Microsoft Office, so does preparing the training for that system.

Building the training begins with finding the right training team.  A quality instructional designer can make the difference between user acceptance and project failure.  How do you determine quality?  Look for these qualities in your instructional designers:

  1. Instructional Design background: Look for someone who has formal education in Adult Education, Educational Technology, Instructional Design Process, Training and Development, Performance Improvement or similar fields.
  2. Experience conducting training courses: Not all trainers are instructional designers and not all instructional designers are trainers.  Instructional designers who double as trainers have a better understanding what typically occurs in the classroom and tend to create training material that is easier to execute.  Additionally, they can train others how to conduct the course.
  3. Experience developing courses for others to teach:Many trainers can build a course that they can teach.  Usually, their course notes are just that: notes.  They are shorthand for knowledge in their heads.  Unfortunately, that is not enough for large-scale implementations. Instructor guides need to precisely convey the content and mechanics of activities to the trainers.
  4. Flexibility: Because training development projects often run in parallel to system development projects, designers often create courses based on vaporware or skeletons. Details, screens, rules, and timelines change frequently.  A quality instructional designer is flexible enough to adjust the training development process to match the constant changes inherent in such a project.
  5. Excellent communication skills: Without question, instructional designers should have excellent written and oral communications skills.  However, communication skill also means using different software to convey ideas.  At a minimum, the instructional designer should have advanced skills in Microsoft Office products.  Knowledge of project management software makes it easier to communicate with project stakeholders.  Knowledge of authoring tools like Articulate expand the choice of training products.

You may have noticed that subject matter expertise is not on the list.  While subject familiarity is beneficial, it is not critical.  You already have subject matter experts on the project who can explain the system to the instructional designer.  The instructional designer’s value-add is translating the expert’s knowledge into something that novices or beginners can understand. A resume with projects from different industries is a good indication that the designer can learn quickly on the job.

At Comprehensive Learning Solutions, we only use quality instructional designers with years of experience developing training material that others can train. If you need to train your staff on a new policy, process, or system, contact Comprehensive Learning Solutions.

Karen Feeley
Karen Feeley

Instructional designer

Karen Feeley is a seasoned professional with over 25 years of experience in workplace learning and development. She is a published author, trainer, instructional designer, editor, and project manager with a proven track record of success in the private, public, and non-profit sectors.