Quality Assurance for Training: Is it worth the effort?
This is a definite, solid maybe.
We want to make sure that each program meets the needs of the learners, the standards of our training group, and the technical requirements of the delivery system we are using. This applies to computer-based training or online training (OLT), as well as to classroom and on-the-job training and instructor-led training (ILT). From a pure learning and development management perspective, we should put everything through the quality assurance (QA) process to make sure that we are serving our various customers.
But let’s be realistic. Does every solution require a full QA run? No, not really. There is a judgment call about when and how much QA to do. But the more you’re investing in the solution, the more thorough the QA process should be. It really comes down to your professional standards–we meet the real learning needs, we do what we say we will do, we use only effective methods, we adhere to copyright and intellectual property laws, and so forth. The QA process is an important part of the L&D process to help you and your organization set and maintain high standards.
How to do QA on a Training Program
Here is the process I’ve put in place for several organizations. There are a couple of points about this. One is that this looks like the E from the ADDIE process. This is intentional. At the same time, this can be used in the newer, more iterative ISD processes, as well. Another point is that steps 2 and 3 can be reversed in order, depending on the situation and preferences. (Just don’t skip one in favor of the other.)
- Review the training request, scope docs, impact maps, and other material that lays out the needs and requirements. Make sure that you know what the program is supposed to do.
- Go through the program material in detailed sequence (screen by screen for OLT; page by page and activity by activity for ILT). Look for these things: (not all will apply to all programs, and this may be swapped in order with Step 3)
- Is the content accurate?
- Are all parts present and ready to put in front of learners?
- Does everything that learners can interact with do what it is supposed to do?
- Is there anything present that learners should NOT be able to interact with that is distracting or that is not functioning as intended?
- Does this adhere to our principles (learner-focused; performance-based; efficient, effective, and impactful)?
- Does the presentation of the content adhere to our branding guidelines, to the extent it makes sense?
- Are we complying with appropriate copyright law and other regulations, as applicable?
- Go through the program material at a high level, looking across modules, sections, and so on. Look for these things: (This may be swapped in order with Step 2.)
- Is this a complete solution to the need?
- Is this program going to engage the intended audience?
- Is this program going to produce the impact we want?
- Is everything in the program needed, or are there parts we can make optional to save learner and trainer time and cost?
- Are the logistics of delivery going to work reliably?
- Test the program in its intended delivery mode. (Usually, this is a test in the pilot instance of the LMS for OLT and a pilot session or detailed walkthrough delivered for ILT.) Work out any bugs.
- Add a document labeled “QA Notes” to the project folder with comments, improvement suggestions, findings, test results, and other information. Include details that would be helpful to someone tasked with making the next upgrade to the program or auditing how the program was designed.
Quality assurance doesn’t have to be hard, costly, or time-intensive. Is it worth doing? If you have a commitment and dedication to your customers, you may want to consider making it a routine part of your process. After all, how can we say that we deliver quality programs and services, if we don’t routinely stop to check our work?