Training Price Drivers (Part 1)

Creating a custom training solution involves consciously making a large number of tradeoffs between the nature and scope of the training and its costs, in order to achieve the objectives of the training. As each of these tradeoffs is being made, we like to put our clients in the driver’s seat. To that end, let’s take a look at some of the key drivers that affect the nature and scope of training solutions and their costs.

Under each heading, the lists below describe the characteristics of a learning solution that indicate greater or lesser scope and complexity and thus price, going from low to high complexity:

Length of the Training

(LOW): The training will be less than one day long.

(MEDIUM): The training will be several days or up to a week long.

(HIGH): The training is comprised of multiple courses or an entire curriculum.

Complexity of the Subject Matter

(LOW): The subject matter is straightforward and easy to learn.

(MEDIUM): The subject matter is complex and requires ramp-up time to thoroughly understand and apply.

(HIGH): The subject matter is very sophisticated and requires considerable ramp-up time or prior knowledge base to thoroughly understand and apply.

Number of SMEs/Stakeholders

(LOW): There is one or a small number of SMEs and stakeholders that are easily accessible. Decision making and approvals will be fairly straightforward.

(MEDIUM): There are a fairly large number of SMEs and stakeholders. Decision making and approvals will be more difficult.

(HIGH): There are a large number of SMEs and stakeholders that may be geographically dispersed. Decision making and approvals will be difficult.

Extent of New Training Material

(LOW): The training involves an update of existing training materials and may require a change in delivery method. The content exists either electronically or on paper and is fairly up-to-date.

(MEDIUM): The training involves development of a new training course. The content is more difficult to obtain and may require working closely with SMEs.

(HIGH): The training involves a new training course or curriculum or extensive changes to existing training. The content is more difficult to obtain and may require working closely with SMEs and stakeholders and/or conducting outside research.

Training Price Drivers (Part 2)

These price drivers relate specifically to those issues which drive the price of e-learning development.

Complexity of the Presentation

(LOW): The training includes text, graphics, and simple audio.

(MEDIUM): The training includes text, graphics, audio, custom graphics and some animation.

(HIGH): The training includes text, graphics, audio, software simulations, animation, and video. A photo shoot is required, custom graphics need to be created, professional audio needs to be recorded, simulations of software need to be captured, custom animations need to be created, and video needs to be recorded.

Level of Interactivity

(LOW): The training is a page-turner with no branching or interactivity.

(MEDIUM): The training includes interactivity, such as branching scenarios or simulations.

(HIGH): The training includes extensive interactivity including branching scenarios and simulations.

Mode of Delivery

(LOW): The training is delivered via the Internet or via CDs or DVD, with no tracking or LMS involved. Participants have access to the latest technology to access the training. Testing can be performed remotely.

(MEDIUM): The training needs to be delivered via the Internet, or via CD or DVD. Cover art and instructions need to be created, CDs/DVDs pressed, tested, and delivered. The training needs to be loaded onto an LMS and tested. AICC and/or SCORM tracking needs to be tested. Testing can be performed remotely.

(HIGH): The training needs to be delivered via multiple modes, including CD, DVD, and Internet. LMS must be implemented. The multiple modes need to be tested. Testing needs to take place both at the client’s site and remotely. Testing is required on multiple platforms and browsers.

Training Price Drivers (Part 3)

These price drivers describe other issues that will drive the price of training development.

Extent of Needs Assessment

(LOW): Minor or moderate needs assessment is required and the project is fairly well pre-defined and scoped. Stakeholders and SMEs can answer most project questions in a kickoff meeting, but the project may require additional review of training materials or other data for scoping.

(MEDIUM): A fairly involved needs assessment is required. The project is partially defined and scoped. The needs assessment requires a few of the following: interviews with end-users, stakeholders, business partners, customers, and SMEs; surveys with the above groups, observation of end-users, independent research, and/or review of available data.

(HIGH): An extensive needs assessment is required and the project is not well defined or scoped. The needs assessment requires extensive interviews and surveys, observation of end-users in their job roles, work-flow analysis, review of end-user output, independent research, and/or review of available data.

Pre- and Post-Assessment

(LOW): Industry standard pre- and post-tests are required. Kirkpatrick level 1 assessment (i.e., did they like it) is required.

(MEDIUM): Complex, interactive scenarios or simulations are used to assess pre- and post-training knowledge. Kirkpatrick level 1 and 2 assessments (i.e., did they like it, what was learned) are required.

(HIGH): Complex, interactive scenarios or simulations are used to assess pre- and post-training knowledge. Kirkpatrick level 1, 2 and 3 assessments (i.e., did they like it, what was learned, how did behaviors change) are required.

Audience Types and Numbers

(LOW): There are a fairly small number of participants. The participants may all be in one geographic location or all have the same job, and have no technological issues. Turnover is low.

(MEDIUM): There are a fairly large number of participants. They may be geographically dispersed and/or have different job roles and varying technological issues. Turnover is moderate.

(HIGH): There are a large number of participants that are geographically dispersed, have different job roles, are of different ages, and have varying technological issues. There is extremely high yearly turnover.

Audience Level of Customization

(LOW): All participants will go through the same training using the same training materials.

(MEDIUM): Participants may require different paths through the training. Different materials may be required for the other paths. Translation into another language is required.

(HIGH): Participants will require different paths through the training or special accommodations to take the training. Different materials are required for the other paths. Translation into multiple languages is required.

What are the Price Drivers for Training on Software Applications?

As with any custom training, defining the best solution involves consciously making tradeoffs between the nature and scope of the training and the costs involved. In addition to the normal price drivers for custom training solutions, the following factors specific to software application training will play an important part in this calculation:

  • The amount of domain or business knowledge on which the participants must be trained (e.g., a debit is … a credit is …)
  • The degree of complexity inherent in the software application
  • The size of the software application
  • The stability of the software application
  • The level of user ability
  • The desired level of interactivity
  • How Software Training is Built

Software training solution developments follow our standard development process with a few tweaks:

  • We make sure that we understand the domain or business knowledge that also must be communicated in the training.
  • We locate and leverage any existing training materials or technical documentation on the application.
  • We make sure we know the skills that are necessary to run the application, the skill gap level of the potential audience, the receptivity to various learning strategies, and any location or department customization needs.
  • We sit with the application itself and with your technical liaisons and subject matter experts to ensure that we understand and can use the application the way it was intended.
  • We construct useful job aids.
  • We rely on your technical liaisons and subject matter experts at each key decision point in the Rigorous Project Management process to validate the technical accuracy of the material and pay particular attention to testing any interactive simulations.

The Technical Writing Process

Project Management plays a part in technical writing projects as well as well as custom learning solution developments.

The first thing we do is assess the need, through conversation and review of relevant resource material. For software application work, we would download and explore the software application itself.

We would then prepare a project description and estimate, detailing the scope of the project and nature of the deliverables to be produced.

For software application help files or user manuals, price drivers include:

  • The amount of domain or business knowledge on which the participants must be trained (e.g., a debit is … a credit is …)
  • The degree of complexity inherent in the software application
  • The size of the software application
  • The stability of the software application
  • The level of user ability

Upon acceptance, we would proceed with the work. And when we create help files and user manuals, especially for new software applications, you receive the extra added free bonus of having a separate set of eyes on every screen of your application. You would be surprised how many bugs an astute technical writer can find!

The Deliverables

Help files and user manuals always contain the same content, generated from a single source, and this content typically includes the following:

  • Table of contents
  • An explanation of any necessary domain or business knowledge
  • A high-level explanation of what the software application does
  • Platform requirements
  • Launching / Login / Logoff
  • An explanation of general software navigation and menu structure
  • Helpful tricks and tips
  • A quick-start tutorial
  • The body, organized either by application function, by menu structure, or both
  • Glossary
  • Technical help contact information
  • An index if desired

All documents receive our review to make sure they are accurate, complete, concise and usable, and are reviewed by you to insure that they meet your requirements before acceptance and sign-off.