Summary: After any maintenance phase for the Corporate University, you must take the time to re-evaluate all aspects of the program. This re-evaluation is bigger than an assessment, so let’s look at how to accomplish it.
First, you must take the information you’ve gained in the assessment and analyze it. Are courses being utilized, both online and in the classroom? Are additional resources, such as Quick Reference Guides, being accessed and used as well? From the course assessments, you should be able to determine if the course materials and content are useful and appropriate for the job functions, especially if you surveyed participants and their managers after thirty or forty-five days. You can also determine if the online course deployment strategy is working. In addition to the courses, you must determine if the staff is being used appropriately. Instructors should spend 70 to 90% of their time in the classroom, depending on the amount of “desk work” or coaching they have to do afterwards. Are all instructors being utilized to that degree? If not, it’s time to re-evaluate the strategy for all of these aspects. Course materials and content can be changed or “revamped” and instructors can be reassigned to the areas that may need them.
In relation to University usage, take a look at which classes, either online or classroom, are being used the most and determine why. Are classroom courses barely meeting the minimum number of participants? If so, is this related to the organization itself or due to material that is not quite relevant at the time? When you look at the courses from this perspective, you can consider allocating them to different times, turning them off, or saving them for a future time period. Be sure that anything and everything that is on offer from the University is timely, appropriate, and is moving the organization toward its overall goals.
When you look at the organization’s strategy, though, be sure to analyze it completely. Sometimes, even if a training department is in “good graces”, they get left behind on cutting edge decisions and new strategy implementations. For this reason, it’s important to keep up with the executive team and their decisions – and in turn, keep up with the mission or strategy. If the organization has very detailed goals, such as “open 100 new locations by 2015”, you’ll need to make sure the numbers are still the same. If not, consider how much more new hire training or sales training will have to go into use in order to keep up with the change. Also in relation to the organization’s strategy, are the courses you’ve provided having an impact on the numbers? It may be difficult to tell, so look at the general trend. If the organization is performing, you can make the assumption that the University’s programs may have had an impact.
Re-evaluation should also involve some industry comparison. Start with the big organizations, such as the American Society for Training and Development, the Society for Performance Improvement, or the Society for Human Resources Management, to look for benchmark organizations. Alternatively, you can easily research organizations within your industry to determine what their Universities are doing. Keep in mind that there are also cross-industry University standards, such as Motorola, Disney, 7-Eleven, and Pfizer, which can provide some ideas on performance. But don’t confine your research to training organizations that call themselves “Universities”. Organizations within your industry may be providing state of the art content and delivery methods without a Corporate University structure, so be sure to examine what they are doing, as well. From your research and benchmarks, you can determine if your content is fresh and if your delivery methods are comparable. In addition, you can find out whose learning organizations are leading the industry – and why.
After the undertaking of a re-evaluation, you must take a look at all of the other resources you have, such as staff, marketing, and infrastructure. If you find that efficiencies are lacking, make adjustments to your infrastructure. Or, if you find that your courses are not being utilized but the content is fresh and appropriate, look at your marketing, branding, and delivery systems to determine where the fault lies. Just remember that no Corporate University functions perfectly and that annual assessment and re-evaluation is the only way to stay healthy and adjust to changing markets and organizational strategies.