Project managers leading training development teams use project management tools, such as plans, to organize and direct task completion. The basic elements of a project training plan allow a project manager to succinctly communicate the types of tasks required to complete a project. Using a free template, such as one available from the American Society for Training and Development website, a manager can develop a comprehensive plan that contains all the information required for sponsors and stakeholders to approve the effort. Additionally, the project team uses the plan to adhere to schedule commitments and accomplish training project goals by measuring, evaluating, and correcting any issues that arise.
The background information element of a training project plan typically describes the purpose of the training program, expected outcomes, target audience, current performance levels, and desired performance levels. The project manager uses information gathered during the analysis phase of this project or previous projects to complete these sections. Establishing clear performance objectives ensures that the training program and its participants can be evaluated. Without defining this aspect, the project manager cannot prove her work has made any difference in improving operations.
The risk assessment element of a project training plan usually lists the events that, if they occur, could impact the completion of the project. This section also includes a description of the strategies that can be deployed to minimize or eliminate the impact. Common risks include lack of subject matter expert input, slow review cycles, and limited funding to produce training products and services. Project managers handle risk throughout the project life cycle.
The change management portion of a training project plan describes what will change a result of the training project. The project manager should include details about why the change is necessary, implementation details (such as the scheduling of lectures, workshops or seminars), the impact anticipated and type of resistance (if any) expected. This section should also describe how to overcome obstacles and ensure the success of the training project.
The communication techniques section of a training plan lists the messages, responsible sender, format, and time frame of communication required for the project to be a success. Types of messages include course announcements, testing results, and requests for input on new training projects.
The milestones section of a training project plan summarizes the tasks, due dates, and accountability for completing all tasks. Creating a realistic schedule (that everyone on the team endorses) ensures that the project completes successfully. Listing a high-level summary in the project plan sets expectations about when the project tasks will be completed and by whom. Project managers may also use software tools, such as Microsoft Project or Excel, to develop a work breakdown structure including additional details such as dependencies and start dates.
The basic elements of a training project plan coincide with those required for any other type of project plan. Training development and delivery projects do have some key differences. The expected outcomes usually involve changes to human performance, not products or services. Writing a training project plan for projects of even the smallest scope, ensures that sponsors, subject matter experts, managers, team members, and even students all agree on the intent and purpose of the effort.