Corporate Training: 5 Steps for Developing a Training Program

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So, just what is an Instructional Designer” is a question I hear a lot. My answer is that an instructional designer is where a training program starts. That person creates the content and describes how it is going to be presented online.

Where do we start? At the beginning of course! That’s easier said than done. The best way I’ve found is to use the ADDIE model.

The ADDIE model perhaps best demonstrates how the process works. What’s ADDIE? It stands for

  • Analyze: what learning needs are to be addressed
  • Design: who is the target audience and how are they best reached?
  • Develop: create the eLearning
  • Implement: present the eLearning in a meaningful and engaging manner
  • Evaluate: test to see if the eLearning was effective

Let’s take a couple of minutes and I’ll walk you through it. At the end, you’ll have a much better idea of how the e-Learning process works. We’ll begin with the first step.

Corporate Training: 5 Steps for Developing a Training Program

1. Analyze – What are we teaching?

Let’s say that you have a problem with employees keeping track of their billable hours. What is the issue? Is it that they don’t understand how to use your tracking software? Is it that they just don’t care?

If it’s the first one, it’s a training issue. If it’s the second one, your employees lack motivation and training isn’t likely the solution.

The key in the Analyze stage is to determine what issues the training needs to address. A thorough needs assessment is critical at this stage and often uncovers issues that you may not have known existed. It helps break the issue down so that all of the contributing factors can be examined and prioritized.

2. Design – Who are we teaching?

How do you reach the people you are trying to teach? This is where design becomes important. How will your learners best learn? Do you use video? Should the content be in a game format? Do you need audio? How do I test for knowledge retention?

There is a LOT to consider when you are designing your eLearning. But, eLearning also offers a LOT of options. A good training program is:

  • Rich in experience for the learner. It captures the learners’ attention and engages their minds.
  • Relevant to the learner. It is framed in a context that is in line with the learners’ needs and goals.
  • Ready and available to use, anytime and anyplace.

A good training program challenges the learner with problems to solve, media that adds to the learning experience and allows learners to use their knowledge as they learn in a way that is meaningful.

3. Develop – Create the e-Learning

Training programs begin with a storyboard. This document captures your content and your design ideas on paper. Many instructional designers use Microsoft Word or PowerPoint to create storyboards. Some use authoring tools that allow you to create the storyboard and complete the online authoring at the same time.

You will want to create storyboard templates or use some of the many that are available online. Here are some sites to check out:

A few things to keep in mind when developing your content include:

  • Inject a bit of humor into your content if it’s appropriate but only a bit. Too much humor is distracting and takes away from what is being taught.
  • Use real examples or case studies to help bring the lesson home.
  • Use relevant photos and other visual media to enhance the learning experience.
  • Add online links to relevant websites when possible.
  • Ask questions that check the learners’ knowledge at regular intervals.
  • Parcel the content into manageable bits rather than having one great big lesson.

After the storyboard is written, it’s time for one of the scarier moments in instructional design – the client review. Clients will be tough and thorough regarding the content and an instructional designer needs to develop a thick skin. Remember, this is NOT YOUR CONTENT. It belongs to the client. They are the ones have to be happy with it.

After the reviews and a couple of drafts (documents, not beers), and the client has approved the storyboard, it’s time to move the content into production. Here is where the magic happens and the storyboard becomes a training program.

4. Implement – Present the training program in a meaningful and engaging manner

How your eLearning is presented depends on your (or your team’s) creativity and the authoring tool you use. Don’t get confused! We’re not talking about a word processing program here – it has nothing to do with being an author.

An authoring tool is a type of software that allows users to use all sorts of media to create professional, engaging and interactive e-Learning. You can find a variety of authoring tools on the Internet. Many of them offer free trials. One place to start is this website:

The Ultimate List of HTML5 eLearning Authoring Tools

After your e-Learning has been produced, it’s time for another scary moment. That’s right, it’s client review time once again. Clients should review the e-Learning content BEFORE it goes online to make certain that the content is correct and that it is correctly presented.

5. Evaluate – Is the training program effective?

Most clients will also insist on a course pilot. Think of this as a training program test drive. A group of select learners will go through the course with critical eyes. They’ll tell you what they liked and what worked for them. More importantly, they’ll tell you what they didn’t like and what didn’t work. Based on that feedback, changes may have to be made before the e-Learning goes live on line.

Evaluation is an ongoing process. A good LMS will provide clients with reports on exam questions (most passed, most failed) and learner progress. A survey at the end of a course will allow learners to evaluate the effectiveness of the course and provide feedback on how it can be improved.


As you can see, creating eLearning is a process. We’ve discussed the five steps that make up the ADDIE process. I’ve included some useful links and we’ve had a bit of fun.

So, what’s next? Creating training programs is not easy at first, but with practice, you’ll get better. Check out the Web. There are hundreds of blogs and discussion groups devoted to instructional design. Look at related articles on Instructional Design. Look at e-Learning websites for ideas and inspiration. Take courses.

Just remember, it all has to “ADDIE” up!

So, do you want to convince managers and executives that training is worth investing in? Download our eBook now and get tips on how to properly measure and optimize both the ROI and the overall effectiveness of your training program.

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Peter Exner

Peter is an Instructional Designer with BaseCorp Learning Systems. He has been writing and creating learning materials for just over 20 years and is still relatively sane. When he’s not working you can find him on a golf course or on a sunny deck with his trusty Martin D-28 guitar in hand.

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