The purpose of this tool

This tool is designed for anyone responsible for finding solutions to training problems and who is interested in undertaking a thorough review of the available training methods. The tool will be most useful when the training problem is complex, when there are many alternative options or when you wish to critically examine your assumptions.
Defining the problem First, on the Input page, enter in a description of the training situation that you wish to analyse: the name of the overall training programme, the specific target audience and the broad learning objective. Do not try to use the tool to analyse more than one audience or objective - if you have a complex programme to plan, the best way of dealing with it is to break it down into its elements and deal with them one by one.
Specifying criteria The tool allows you to weight the criteria that are used to compare the various methods, according to your own priorities. A weighting of zero means that this issue is ignored in the overall score; a weighting of four means that the issue has four times its normal effect on the outcome. There are five criteria:

Direct cost: the cost of trainee travel plus the purchase of services, facilities, materials or equipment specifically for the training.

Indirect cost: the cost of using existing labour and facilities plus the cost of trainees being away from work to travel to and receive the training.

Efficiency: the time taken to deliver the training.

Effectiveness: the degree to which the training is likely to achieve its learning objective.

Mix: the degree to which trainees get to mix and make contacts with eachother.

Completing the questionnaire Now work your way through the questionnaire, answering all questions that are relevant to your particular situation. Be careful where you are asked to enter in the cost of off-the-shelf materials - only enter a figure where suitable materials are available and you would prefer these to a tailor-made solution. If you enter a figure for 'externally-run classroom courses', this will over-ride any entry for classroom course materials'.

Note: none of the data that you enter is saved, either to the web server or to your local drive.

Viewing your results When you have finished answering the questions, go to the Results page. You will be presented with a table showing the results achieved by each method for each of the criteria. Costs are shown in 000s. The figures are approximate and intended primarily to show relativities between methods. The other criteria are shown as percentages of the maximum score available. Finally, the overall total brings together all the criteria, according to their weightings, in the form of a final percentage. The higher the percentage the better the score.

If you are uncomfortable with the results and believe that a particular weighting or answer has skewed the outcome disproportionately, you can go back to the Input page and modify your selections. You can go back and forwards between the Input and Results pages as often as you like.

Altering the tool's assumptions There are a number of assumptions made by the tool in terms of labour costs, efficiencies of methods, design and development times, equipment costs, group sizes, facilities costs, travel costs and travel times. You can adjust these assumptions by altering the figures displayed on the Assumptions page.
Building up a training plan A major training exercise is likely to incorporate a number of training objectives aimed at multiple audiences. Use the tool to address each element one by one, then bring your results together to summarise your findings. It may be that one method can be used to meet more than one purpose, even if it wasn't the highest scoring option in each case. There are likely to be cost and practical advantages to minimising the number of methods. On the other hand, it is quite likely that a number of methods is required to fulfil the requirements of a major training plan.
Printing You can print your results using the browser's normal print facility.
Improving this tool Real life is never quite as clear cut as your algorithms would like. No doubt the tool will initially be a blunt one. What's needed is feedback on how it helps in real situations, so it can be enhanced to be more useful to more people. Any help you can give will be much appreciated. Just e-mail the author at clives@fastrak-consulting.co.uk.

try out the tool

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