Best Master Level Course For Finance And Modeling With Programing How Long Does it Take to Design and Develop a Training Activity?

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How Long Does it Take to Design and Develop a Training Activity?

That’s a question that’s often asked on one or two of the training forums I occasionally visit. Unfortunately, the question falls into the category of unknowable, just like the question “How long is a piece of string?” Equally unfortunate is that respondents give answers that are wild guesses; have ranged from 40 hours per training hour to various nominal percentages over the past six months.

As humans, we like to put everything into quantifiable or qualitative boxes… neat little boxes of comfortable, familiar dimensions. We can feel safe and secure with quantities or qualities that we can understand and control. Of course, it is true that we also have to deal with the practical need to allocate costs to activities, and therefore we need to know how long these activities take. We need to know how much we should pay a specialist to develop a program. At best, there is always a large element of guesswork. The assumption occurs because of the large number of variables that are aggregated in any instructional design activity. For example, how much content must be covered to achieve the program’s learning outcomes? What is the expected take-up rate from the proposed audience? How will it be delivered (interventions for classroom delivery are less labor intensive than, for example, e-learning designs)?

Not only are there structural variables, there are also variables related to the instructional designer or design team. People with extensive content knowledge in a specific area can produce step-by-step instruction much more easily than someone with less extensive knowledge. It is often necessary to identify one or more subject matter experts to tell instructional designers how content knowledge, skills, or attitudes apply in workplaces.

My experience has been that while it is nearly impossible to determine precisely how long a training activity (one of substance) will take to develop, there are some ways in which an estimate can be more reliable. Some of the methods below may help.

Based on past experience, calculate the cost on averages or work on maximums. That is, if it took an average of 10 hours to design a series of instructional programs, it is a reasonable proposition that it will take about 10 hours to design something similar. When estimating, it is always better to err on the side of higher cost. So instead of using average times for development, if you use maximums, your calculations can have some leeway for delays. If you were considering averaging, you would pick the maximum duration from the list of programs being used to calculate the average and use that.

It is also possible to allocate hours and then design instructions to fit the available time. This can be risky, but it is not as unprofessional as it may seem at first. Let’s say, for example, that an hour has been set aside for everyone in an organization to receive up-to-date information on occupational health and safety issues. Perhaps a suitable delivery strategy might be to do a ‘show and tell’ with a handout at the end for further consolidation. I have always considered that “chalk and talk” presentation methods are not “training” because they lack a form of evaluation; we do not know whether the participants learned what was intended. However, sometimes these types of presentations can be useful and it’s hard to argue that people don’t leave with knowledge they didn’t have when they arrived.

A third method is to ask someone who has done a similar project how long it took. This can be a rough guide, but often more useful than guessing without any real reason to do so.

As a training manager, when I estimated my annual budget I included a bulk figure for development if I did it separately, or I included a charge on my training delivery costs, say 25%. The massive development figure was the most I had calculated in previous design activities. Typically my team would overspend on one activity and underspend on the next, and when the budget ran out we had the option of canceling other planned training activities and redirecting funds, not developing any more activities for the year, or making a business case . to our Finance Department for additional funds.

The message of this article, then, is not to blindly follow the hours, percentages or other information about people who hang out on training forums, often with such a belief that they are “standard”, “industry accepted” or whatever. Do your own research and come up with estimates that fit the sets of variables that exist in your internal and external environment.

A well-thought-out training proposal (or outline) can be of great help in estimating development costs because it focuses on facts, for example target audience, learning outcomes, training duration, delivery method and more more This is the data that informs your instructional design team. An added bonus is that if you have your training proposal approved by a funding delegate, your design and development estimate is more likely to be approved as well.

Published May 2005. Copyright Robin Henry 2005

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