Best Practices in Managing External Training

The pandemic forced many changes, including government reconsidering the way it handles training. For one, in-person training quickly shifted online. This includes not only virtual instructor-led training, but the addition of more ondemand resources, such as pre-recorded or text-based courses.

The ability to offer – and manage – options for students and teachers alike became more important than ever.

Still, engagement is hard. Communicating with constituents, volunteers and the public at large can be fragmented. Several factors make reaching these audiences difficult, including language barriers, inequality in internet access and competition with other distractions in general.

But the effort agencies make to provide training to external learners is worthwhile, generating goodwill, social impact and mission awareness.

To make the most of trainings for external customers, agencies should keep five things in mind:

Streamline compliance-based certification programs

Using an online learning portal to build certification programs for contractors, businesses that require licensing, volunteers and others results in a more streamlined and efficient process.

Leverage a tool that allows for delivery of your training content and third-party training content, and tracking of course completions and analytics to help your agency stay in continual alignment with changing regulations. Offer scalable, sustainable personalized training.

Rather than delivering courses in person, requiring folks to travel across potentially large geographic areas, reduce barriers for learners and save your agency money with virtual training, both asynchronous and live instructor-led.

“It’s important to have agile tools in your pocket,”Bennion, Director of Product Marketing at Cornerstone. Cornerstone is a learning management system (LMS) provider. “It’s easy to be agile for a defined process, but it’s not easy for the humans that surround it.”

Contain costs

An online learning platform gives your agency the ability to recoup training and travel costs, and gives you the opportunity to break even on training and development. It can give your agency a secure payment gateway where constituents can pay for training as needed, allowing for payment tracking and record keeping.

Provide a personalized learning experience

Sure, customers can seek out new training, but marketing to a core group who could benefit is also important. Enable administrators to configure one-time or recurring training assignments that are most relevant to them. These can be based on specific criteria, such as the person’s role, location or actions they’ve taken within the portal. Ensure that the right people have seamless access to the right training when they need it. “The primary research you can do with an audience helps a great deal,” Bennion said.

Focus on customer experience

People are used to navigating online to shop or find information, so make sure your online learning portal is easy to use and has self-service options for registering and paying. No longer is a training administrator required to manually set up an account and assign courses. Training can be sold either through the member learning portal and e-commerce sites or delivered for free based on your agency’s needs. “You have things in an email service, you have attendance in specific meetings, you have trainings that you’re doing in person, and it’s hard to get a view of the success or failure or how you need to pivot,” Bennion said. “We alleviate that by putting it all in one system.”


This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, How Agencies Are Stepping Up External Training Initiatives.” Download the full report here.

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