Feature: Maximise Your Budget

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piggy bank In today’s business environment companies demand so much more for so much less. Amanda Clarke, managing director of Optimum Training, offers some pointers on how to maximise your training budget.

When things are tough, one of the first things that the average company does is cut their training budget. Yet everyone knows that training is not just important, but crucial to the longevity of an organisation. Rather than cutting the budget, perhaps the focus should be on how could you increase the impact of the training you can do with the budget you have available. After all, your people deserve the best - just because the budget has been frozen (or even decreased), it doesn’t mean you can’t get great value.

There are hidden costs associated with training that cut into the training budget. Travel, time to travel, lost productivity, hotel accommodation, meals, renting training facilities, instructor fees (internal or external), course materials (including storage), support call costs, to list but a few. So what can you do to maximise your budget?

1. Identify needs
It’s worth spending some time identifying and agreeing training needs properly. Carry out training needs analysis regardless of the size of your business or your business focus. It’s imperative to do if you really want to maximise your budget. Poorly thought out training wastes money, time and effort on all sides. Make sure that those needs align to company objectives and show a Return of Investment (ROI).

2. Get the senior management team on board
Without the support of the senior executives you’ll always be fighting a battle. They want to see ROI, so show them what it will be.

3. Manage costs effectively
Have written procedures on how to organise training events and then train less senior members of staff to do this. The more junior the person arranging events, the more cost effective it is for you.

For example: Setting a rolling programme of training for one year. If you have clear and concise guidelines, with dates to avoid like holidays, busy business periods, preferred day of the week etc, even a very junior member of staff can go through the diary for the following year and fill in the dates. A more senior member of staff can then check these for accuracy.

In many organisations the training manager will sit down and work out the dates then get a more junior member of staff to check it. This wastes valuable time and effort. The same could be done for all pre and post course administration and follow up.

4. Use the power of leverage
Find providers who can use their own purchasing power to get you the best deal with training providers, local venues for hire etc. This can reduce your own costs dramatically – especially if you have a high turnover of staff.

5. Reduce Travel.
Eliminate the need for your staff to travel by considering in-house training. This will not only save on expenses but also on time – both in terms of travel and tuition time.

6. Using External Providers

    If you commission an external provider for your in-house courses, follow these guidelines:
  • Request a copy of the course materials so that you can check them against objectives and relevance to your business. This way you can also check the fit in terms of values of the organisation and ensure they are effective both during and after the training.
  • Find out what pre- and post-service you will receive. What back up do you get for your learners? Compare suppliers on a like for like basis to decide which is best value.

6. Get your database working effectively
For courses that require refresher training – like some legislative training (first aid for example) – make sure you don’t rely on the supplier to remind you. Some smaller providers don’t have the resources (or business acumen) to do this. Make your own database and ensure that the individuals get onto refresher courses before it expires. This will save not only approximately 40-50% of the course fee, but also 50% of course attendance time.

7. Consider forms of blended learning
This could be online learning with coaching or classroom training rather than full-blown classroom training; or event internet/intranet/CD-rom training with coaching or classroom elements. With the advances in technology it’s so easy to get far more from your budget in so many ways by using technology. This is particularly useful for legislative or where staff turnover is high. Technology used along with the human element makes far more effective training than online only programmes.

8. Always check the results!
Provide management information on training results and check your ROI every time. A couple of years ago, I identified a training need for myself and attended a course that cost me £5,000. Within four weeks I made over £30,000 with my new skills. Since then, it’s been an awful lot more. That’s a great ROI for my company. Evaluate the ROI before carrying out the training.

9. Remember…
Cheap isn’t always cheerful. You get what you pay for. Sometimes it’s worth paying the extra to get the quality you and your team deserve. If you get the results you want, it is worth paying for.

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