Deep Dive: Budgeting for Your Organization’s Training Needs


It’s that time of year again—budget season. A time of evaluating, strategizing, planning, and allocating. Organizations have to anticipate what kind of spend they will have, and hopefully a decent portion of that spend will go toward training and development initiatives.

Organizations also have to anticipate any changes and occurrences that may happen during the coming year. This can include new strategic plans and goals, training staff availability, incoming talent volume, new products or services, budget cuts, and much more.

According the 2016 Training Industry Report, here are the top reasons that small, medium, and large organizations saw a fluctuation in their training budget:

Increased training budget due to:

  • Increase in the scope of their training programs and added training staff
  • Increase in the number of learners served
  • Purchase of new technologies or equipment

Decreased training budget due to:

  • Reduction in training staff
  • Decrease in scope of training
  • Attendance at fewer outside learning events
  • Other (acquisition costs, legislative cuts, new director does not see the importance)

As a training professional, you need to be strategic in your planning to ensure that you get the portion of the budget that you need to adequately serve your learners. Start planning for next year’s training by doing a little primary research around your organization. What are the key business goals for the year?  What gaps are there in terms of knowledge and skills that prevent employees from meeting these goals? What innovative ways exist for me to close these gaps within my budget? Asking these questions and seeking them out will help you to allocate your budget much more effectively.

Remember that from an organizational point of view, every training initiative needs to directly or indirectly further an organizational goal. From a learner’s perspective, effective training needs to be engaging, relevant, and timely. Perhaps consider:

1.  Shifting to online training

Online training has allowed organizations to cut costs dramatically. Learners are also becoming more exposed to and accepting of this training delivery method. The 2016 Training Industry Report tells us that classroom instruction made up 41% of training hours—down 5% from the previous year. Alternately, for that same period, online training jumped from a little over 26% to more than 30% of training hours.

2.  Measuring your results

Your use of the training budget will be judged in terms of its ultimate contribution to organizational success. You need to be able to articulate how your programs have contributed. Designing a methodology for measuring the effectiveness of your training programs is critical to getting ongoing budget support. Design your measurement approach up front and not as an afterthought. Become skilled at using Kirkpatrick’s approach to learning evaluation: Reaction, Learning, Behavior, and Results.

Looking for more on budgeting and developing your training program? Download our comprehensive and interactive Employee Training Planner for Maximizing Budget and Effectiveness.