A partnership has to be two-way and if you are trying to achieve a different working relationship with the business it can seem to be an uphill struggle. Equally, very willing and interested internal teams can sometimes be passed over in favour of using external consultants. Internal teams often need sponsorship to help them build relationships with the business. However with perseverance, professionalism and a genuine interest in the business, partnerships can be built.
One way of achieving this is to focus on developing the knowledge about your business and by helping your internal clients to focus on their needs. A good place to start is by asking the question 'At the end of the training or learning process what would you like people to be able to do that they cannot do now, or what would you like to be different?' By helping people to think about the future you begin to identify the start of their journey. If it is a significant training or development need you may need to undertake your analysis at a number of levels within the organization.
Within this process you may find it helpful to consider the following steps:
Identify client/corporate goals/desired outcomes.
What are the specific business objectives linked to this need?
How will the development meet those needs?
What training or learning intervention has already taken place?
What is working well that we can build on?
What needs to be developed, improved?
What new skills, competencies are required?
Who needs to attend?
What options for delivery are possible? Do not assume it is a formal training course. Outline the different options.
Who will endorse/sponsor the learning and development?
How will you evaluate/measure the effectiveness of the training?
What information is available about the participants - what do you perceive to be their needs?
Once you have gathered this information you will be in a better position to make an assessment of what could be offered and how the different components could be combined into an overall solution.
Another key aspect will be the financial implications of any intervention and at a time of reducing budgets it will be important to prioritize development needs. One of the criticisms often levelled at learning and development functions is their lack of ability to evaluate the effectiveness of any learning and development intervention and to identify the proposed return on investment, often because the nature of the development is seen to be developing 'soft' skills. One of the first actions should be to identify what happens currently, to find out what mechanisms are in place to measure the effectiveness of any solution. In today's learning environment many organizations are questioning their investment in learning and development. At times of cost reduction a learning and development function can look an easy target.
Every part of an organization including learning and development should always be examining their contribution to the bottom line. The effectiveness with which you conduct the analysis of training needs is critical to the eventual success of your training event. If you miss vital clues in establishing what your client or participants need to learn, the outcomes will not maximize your training intervention/impact. However effective your design, delivery or evaluation, if you have not clearly identified the needs you are potentially wasting your, and more unfortunately your client's/participants', time.