Agile Training Development – Lessons from the world of project management

Agile management or agile project management is an iterative method of determining requirements for engineering and information technology development projects in a highly flexible and interactive manner that is based on the following tenets:

Individuals and interactions over processes and tools
Working software over comprehensive documentation
Customer collaboration over contract negotiation
Responding to change over following a plan

There is a lot we can learn from the Agile project management when it comes to the development of training. To often in this industry I think we tend to operate on an alomost waterfall methodology when it comes to developing training. We collect all the requirements from the business (or at least what we think are all the requirements) and then we go away and build a training course or a program, consulting with the business when we need subject matter expertiese. Then when it is all done we take it back to the business and present it and more often than not find that the outcomes the business wanted from the training are not going to be met by what we have developed.

Agile methodology with its very iterative nature gives us the opportuity to not only develop and deliver better training that more fully meets the needs and outcomes of the businesses we work with, but ensures that we dont waste time and resources in developing programs and courses that dont meet business need.
The idea of talking to the business getting an idea of what they want, then going away and over a short period of time namely 1-2 weeks coming up with an initial idea and program and then going back to the business and testing it, getting more requirements, looking at what works and doesnt work, what give us the outcomes we want and what doesn’t appeals to me and is the kind of process we have adopted to a greater or lessor extent in most of the organisations I have worked with. And it seems to work.

Should we therefore be much more iterative in the way we develop training, will a continuing process of “requirements gathering + development + review” repeated until we have the product or program we need give us better training, or will there be additional costs both in terms of the development of the training and the amount of interaction required from the business which may at least in the eyes of the business devalue the process.

I personally think the answer is no! I think improved outcomes provided by developing and deliverying training utilising an Agile Methodology far outweigh any perceived (and I am yet to be convinced it does actually “cost” more to the agile) additional costs assoicated with it.

About pauldrasmussen
Paul Rasmussen is one of Australia’s most widely read Vocational Education and Training Commentators. He provides deep, unbiased analysis and insights not only on topical issues, but also on the underlying structure and policy which supports the industry. His writing and analysis has been praised for its uncompromising and thought provoking style and its ability to focus on the issues of real importance to the sector. He has advised various government departments and ministers, training providers, public and private organisations, not for profits and small to medium enterprises on the VET sector and the issues and opportunities facing it. He is one of Australia’s most awarded learning professionals and a regular speaker at a range of conventions and forums. His extensive experience in vocational education, and learning and development coupled with formal qualifications in philosophy, ethics, business and education management allow Paul to provide a unique view of the road ahead and how to navigate it.

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