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Best Training Practices
Will Kenny
3927 York Ave N
Robbinsdale, MN 55422

Out-Of-Phase Budgeting

good intelligence gathering adds power to your training efforts

(reprinted from The Training Tipsheet)

My wife and I enjoy bicycling on our recumbent tandem. Now, all tandems come with their two sets of pedals "in phase," that is, synched up with one another. When the front (captain's) pedals are in vertical position, the back (stoker's) pedals are also vertical.

Now, you do not get the same power out of every position in the cycle, in the stroke of the pedals. And when they are in phase, the two sets of pedals hit the strong and weak points of the cycle at the same time. So one of the first things I do with a tandem is set the pedals out of phase: when my pedals are vertical, my wife's pedals are horizontal. Out of phase, they complement one another, so that it smooths out the stroke and delivers more consistent power to the drive train.

In most organizations, putting together the training budget for the next year parallels the budgeting of the various company departments. They are "in phase." But in truth, training plans should be a response to those department plans, as training services are there to help those functions achieve their goals. You can't put together a good training budget without knowing what your client departments will be doing differently in the coming year, how their needs are changing, and how you may have to shift focus and reallocate resources to contribute to your clients' success.

Now, in practice, nobody's management is going to allow them to submit a training budget two weeks after everyone else has turned in their numbers. I'm just trying to get you thinking a little more "out of phase" so that you go looking for the information you need -- and that's a lot more information than "what did we do last year?" -- to help get more power to the company's drive train, if you will.

After all, when some function in the company decides on a new initiative, whether that's a new product line, or a different process, or a new approach to penetrating the target market, they look for resources they will depend on and skills they will have to acquire to be successful. And then they ask those resources for help.

So if their new process will require modification of company software, they might ask the technical staff for inputs to their budget. If new manufacturing or shipping arrangements are indicated, or new sales or customer service staff, they go to those supporting departments to estimate requirements.

But for some reason, many departments make their own assumptions about training needs. They say something like, "we'll need three days of training for everyone to get up to speed on the new product line" when they have no idea how best to prepare the right employees to work the right way.

That's why it is up to you to stay in touch with your client departments, including some that may not have used your services this past year. Intelligence gathering helps you foresee demands on your services, and it not only leads to better budgets, it leads to more opportunities to deliver the most support at the optimal cost (and cost is not just about money, of course).

While there is no actual time shift in the budgeting process with this kind of intelligence gathering, it does put you in the position of responding to anticipated company needs, rather than responding to your own budget from last year. That allows you to deliver your "power stroke" directly after your client departments have delivered their, in planning the coming year, and that is sure to deliver more consistent, efficient outcomes from your planning efforts.

© 2012 Best Training Practices -- Will Kenny

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